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Wayne Messam: FSU football 1993 champ, now 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful

He didn’t put up huge numbers, but he did have a memorable role against Miami.
Florida State's Wayne Messam (89) gets tackled during a 1996 game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. [AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker]
Florida State's Wayne Messam (89) gets tackled during a 1996 game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. [AP Photo/ Karl DeBlaker]
Published Mar. 28, 2019
Updated Mar. 28, 2019

Florida State’s 1993 national championship team produced a Hall-of-Fame linebacker, an NBA guard and now … a presidential candidate.

Former Seminoles receiver Wayne Messam announced Thursday that he was joining the Democrats’ crowded 2020 field. The 44-year-old is the mayor of Miramar.

The Florida Gators' Johnny Rutledge tackles Wayne Messam in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1996 season. (Times 1996)
The Florida Gators' Johnny Rutledge tackles Wayne Messam in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1996 season. (Times 1996)

I’m not going to detail his platform or break down his chances of winning. I’ll leave that to our political writers.

But I’m a sports writer, so let’s look at his time with the Seminoles. It’s clearly a key part of his identity. His introductory video includes highlights, pictures and rings from his days at FSU.

Messam didn’t have a huge impact on FSU’s title team. He appeared in 10 games but caught only five balls for 39 yards. His lone touchdown came in a 57-0 blowout win over Clemson.

Messam’s statistics increased later in his career. Over his final three years, he recorded 57 catches for 754 yards. His other three touchdowns came in his senior year, 1996.

Even though he didn’t put up eye-popping numbers on the field, he had a memorable role in a momentous game. Messam had the privilege of taking a clump of Orange Bowl sod to bury in the Sod Cemetery after FSU’s 34-16 win over rival Miami in 1996. It was FSU’s first road win over the ’Canes in 22 years, and it came in a top-10 matchup.

Bobby Bowden and Wayne Messam embraced after Florida State's win at Miami in 1996. (Times 1996)
Bobby Bowden and Wayne Messam embraced after Florida State's win at Miami in 1996. (Times 1996)

“We’re going to bury them in our cemetery as soon as we get back to Tallahassee,” Messam told reporters afterward.

“History doesn’t win games. Players win games.”