Desmond Howard Bio: Career, NFL, Wife, ESPN & Net Worth

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Desmond Howard is a former American football player who played as a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) and is mainly known as a kickoff returner. Currently, he serves as a college football analyst for ESPN.

Howard played professional football for several teams like Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions.

He played college football for Michigan Wolverines and won the Heisman Trophy with them.

In addition, he was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXI and was ranked as the ninth greatest kickoff returner in NFL history.

Desmond Howard, Football Analyst For ESPN
Desmond Howard, Football Analyst For ESPN (Source: Desmond Howard)

Moreover, Desmond is also a College Football Hall of Fame inductee. He had a successful career as a football player and is now having a great time as a broadcaster.

As of 2024, the former football player has an estimated net worth of around $14 million. 

You may be familiar with his face and voice during pre-game shows and commentaries on ESPN.

But most of his fans are not aware of his career as a football player. Thus, we have packed a summary of his NFL career and personal life. Let’s begin, then. But first, we shall look at the quick facts table;

Quick Facts

Full Name Desmond Kevin Howard
Birth Date May 15, 1970
Birth Place Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Nick Name Desmond Howard
Religion Christianity
Nationality American
Ethnicity African-American
Education St. Joseph High School
University of Michigan
Horoscope Taurus
Father’s Name JD Howard
Mother’s Name Hattie Howard
Siblings One brother
Brother Jermaine Howard
Age 54 Years Old
Height 5’10″/1.77 m/177 cm
Weight 85 kg/187 lb.
Shoe Size Not available
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Dark brown
Relationship Married
Girlfriends No
Spouse Rebekah Howard (m. 1959)
Children Two Sons and One Daughter
Sons Desmond Howard Jr.
Dhamir Howard
Daughter Sydney Howard
Profession Football Analyst
NFL player (former)
Jersey Number #21( Michigan Wolverines), #81 (Jacksonville Jaguars), #81 (Green Bay Packers), #80 (Detroit Lions)
Teams Washington Football Team
Jacksonville Jaguars
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Net Worth $14 million
Salary $100k
Broadcasting Affiliations ESPN, Detroit Lions Television Network, Fox Sports
Social Media Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
Merch Jersey, Autographs, Rookie Cards
Last Update July, 2024

Early Life, Family, And Education

Howard was born on May 15, 1970, in Cleveland, Ohio, to his parents, JD Howard (father) and Hattie Howard (mother).

His father, JD, was a formal semi-pro basketball player who has toured with Jolly Jokers. Later, he used to work at a tool and die plant. Likewise, Desmond’s mother, Hattie, used to work as an administrator in a school.

Desmond has one brother, Jermaine, with whom he grew up.

The former NFL player went to St. Joseph High School in Cleveland and played for the school’s basketball and football teams.

He played as a tailback in his senior season at the school. For his excellence in football, he received All-American and All-Ohio honors.

During his school career, Desmond recorded 18 touchdowns, 5,392 rushing yards, and 10 defensive interceptions. In addition, he bagged varsity letters in all the sports he played, track, football, and basketball.

Collegiate Career

The college football analyst attended the University of Michigan. He was a star for the Michigan Wolverines football team, who set 12 Wolverines records and tied 5 NCAA records.

During the 1991 season, he bagged the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award.

Desmond made it to the All-America first team and the former Michigan football legend was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Desmond’s college career began with less playing time and he was helped by the Michigan counselor in boosting his confidence.

The former Detroit Lions wide receiver finished his college career with 249 rushing yards, 134 receptions for 2,146 yards, 1211 kickoff return yards, and 339 yards returning punts, while making 37 touchdowns.

For his brilliant collegiate career, fans voted him as The Mount Rushmore of Michigan Football for the Big Ten Network in 2014.

The Heisman Trophy

Desmond had impressive stats in the 1991 season. This made him a favored contender for the Heisman Trophy, and he eventually won.

His “The Heisman pose” celebration of imitating the football player on the Heisman trophy received much media attention. He did the celebration after scoring in a game against Ohio State.

College Stats

  Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
1989 Michigan Big Ten   WR 12 9 136 15.1 2 5 11 2.2 0 14 147 10.5 2
1990 Michigan Big Ten   WR 12 63 1025 16.3 11 5 58 11.6 0 68 1083 15.9 11
1991 Michigan Big Ten   WR 12 62 985 15.9 19 13 180 13.8 2 75 1165 15.5 21
Career Michigan         134 2146 16.0 32 23 249 10.8 2 157 2395 15.3 34

Professional Career

The Super Bowl XXVII champions Washington Redskins drafted Howard as the 4th pick overall in the 1992 NFL Draft.

His performance as a receiver was secondary to his skills as a kickoff returner and a punter.

“The return specialist” name came to him as he recorded 92 receptions in his first four seasons with the Redskins.

In the 1995 NFL expansion draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars picked him. Howard played one season with the Jaguars and recorded 26 receptions, 1 touchdown, and 10 kick returns.

Super Bowl With Green Bay Packers

Later, in 1996, Desmond joined the Green Bay Packers. He had 58 punt returns with them, an NFL record of 875 punt return yards, 15.1 punt return average, and 460 kickoff return yards in a single season.

In 1996, the Packers reached the Super Bowl XXXI defeating the 49ers and clinched the title by winning 35-21 against the New England Patriots. Howards made a 99-yard kickoff return resulting in a Packers touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Desmond Howard
Desmond Howard With Smith (Source: Instagram)

He won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award and is the only player of special teams in NFL history to win the prize.

The Oakland Raiders signed him as a free agent in 1998. He recorded 61 kickoff returns before rejoining the Packers in 1999.

The Packers released Howard in the middle of the 1999 season due to his poor performance and recurring injuries.

The Detroit Lions

Later, the Lions signed him. In his debut for the Lions, he scored a special touchdown. The former wide receiver made his first and only Pro Bowl appearance as the NFC’s kick returner in February 2001.

After completing the 2002 season, Howard retired from football. He ended his football career with 123 passes for 1,597 yards, rushed for 68 yards, returned 244 punts for 2,895 yards, and gained 7,595 yards returning 359 kickoffs.

Broadcasting career

It has been almost 21 since Desmond last played football. After leaving the profession as an NFL player, Howard rested for a while.

Then he joined ESPN, where he currently works. Since 2005, he has been traveling along with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstreit to the match sites where they cover the pre-game show ESPN College Gameday.

Desmond Howard
Desmond Howard Covering ESPN College Gameday (Source: Instagram)

Howard mostly appears as an in-game studio figure. You can hear his voice in commentaries when you tune in to the Detroit Lions Television Network during Detroit Lions’ pre-season games.

Moreover, he has also called games for the NFL on Fox Sports. Desmond served there for one season, sharing the studio with former ESPN colleague Carter Blackburn.

Currently, Desmond is at ESPN serving as a college football analyst.

He has got prominent roles in College GameDay & College Football Live. He evaluates the NCAA games and other college-level games with his expertise.

Video games

Howard has been featured in EA Sport’s NCAA Football video game series. He was the cover athlete for the series’ installment in NCAA Football 06.

Desmond Howard Striking The Heisman Pose
Desmond Howard Striking The Heisman Pose (Source: ESPN)

The renowned Desmond’s celebration “The Heisman pose” was the illustration for the game’s new feature, “Race for the Heisman.” The picture is an icon for all those who are interested in college football games.

Achievements And Honors

Howard was a brilliant player in his college career. The 1991 Heisman Trophy winner bagged honorable awards like Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and Chicago Tribune Silver Football award in the 1991 season.

Sporting News honored him with the College Football Player of the Year 1991. The last ever UPI College Football Player of the Year title is held by him.

Desmond Howard Showing His Heisman Trophy (Source: Pinterest)

The Super Bowl XXXI Most Valuable Player had received Big Ten’s Athlete of the Year 1991 award.

the College Football Hall of Fame inductee has had his jersey no. 21 retired by the Michigan University’s football team.

Likewise, he had also been inducted into the State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Wife, Wedding, And Children

Howard married his longtime girlfriend, Rebekah, in a private ceremony. The pair happily lives in their house in Miami, Florida. 

Rebekah is an authorized attorney. Besides, she also serves as an executive in event management and marketing.

The couple has three children: two sons (Desmond Jr. & Dhamir) and a daughter (Sydney).

Desmond spends adequate time with his wife and children. No controversies or tensions have been reported about the Howard family until today.

Net Worth And Salary

Howard had an outstanding college football career and an 11-long-season professional football career in the NFL. He has an equally successful career in broadcasting and currently serves at ESPN.

Henceforth, it can be speculated that the man has accumulated a significant fortune throughout his life.

Desmond Howard’s net worth as of 2024 is estimated to be around $14 million.

Some sources report that Howard amassed a total of $190 million from salary only during his football career. Well, the figure cannot be suspected regarding his success during those days.

Desmond reportedly earns around $100k while working as a football analyst at ESPN.

Age, Height, and Body Measurements

The football analyst is 54 years old as of 2024.

He stands at 5 feet 10 inches (177 cm) and weighs around 85 kg (187 pounds).

Howard is an American citizen born in Cleveland, United States.

Desmond Howard Leaves Ohio State Out of His College Football Playoff Top 4

Desmond Howard isn’t quite sold on Ohio State’s performance this season as college football gears up for Week 9.

As anticipation builds for the release of the initial College Football Playoff rankings, the College GameDay team has given us a sneak peek at their predictions.

In Howard’s top 6, he placed Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, and Oklahoma as his likely top 4 contenders.

Notably, Howard slotted Washington as the team just outside the top 4, securing the 5th position.

When it came to Ohio State, his appraisal was more reserved, placing the Buckeyes no higher than 6th.

Howard initiated his segment by acknowledging Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame as significant, albeit not a dominant victory.

He also critiqued Kyle McCord’s performance, highlighting that the young quarterback struggled to find his groove against Penn State until connecting with what Howard dubbed “the best wide receiver” in the country during the second half.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who made the Heisman pose famous?

esman Howard imitated the posture of the man in the Heisman Trophy during his celebration after scoring against Ohio State University in 1991. The photo went viral. It was a subject of discussion in almost every sports media for weeks. Besides, some critics compared the act to Muhammad Ali’s way of teasing opponents.

Where does Desmond Howard live now?

Desmond Howard resides with his wife and children in his house in Miami, Florida. He works at ESPN as a college football analyst.

Is Desmond Howard a vegetarian?

In an interview, Desmond stated that he takes egg whites as his post-workout meal but does not eat any meat. Thus, whether you call him a vegetarian or not depends upon you.

What was Desmond Howard's 40-yard dash time?

Desmond Howard's 40-yard dash time was 4.35 seconds.

How much is a Desmond Howard rookie card worth?

Desmond Howard's rookie card price ranges from $0.05-$41.79 on Amazon.

Is Desmond Howard available for an autograph signing?

Yes, Desmond Howard is available for autograph signing both publicly and privately. Howard has signed at numerous shows, including the National Convention.

What did Desmond Howard say about Devonta Smith?

Desmond Howard says that Devonta Smith is the best wide receiver of the 2021 NFL draft.

Who won the 1991 Heisman Trophy?

Desmond Howard won the 1991 Heisman Trophy.

Aaditya Bhatta
Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta is a dynamic writer and sports enthusiast, whose passion for both realms is reflected in his work. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Aaditya brings a unique perspective to his writing, captivating readers with his engaging content.


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  • Aaditya has consistently delivered insightful analysis and captivating content across various platforms.
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Aaditya's journey as a writer and sports aficionado began at a young age when he discovered his passion for both pursuits. Throughout his academic and professional endeavors, Aaditya has honed his skills in content creation and sports analysis, immersing himself in the intricacies of the games he loves.

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