And it's an accomplishment the former Upper Darby resident and ex-Monsignor Bonner star still takes great pride in.
"It's nice that with all the talented players who have been involved in the Penn State program, I'm the only one to win the Heisman Trophy so far," Cappelletti said in a telephone interview from his home in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
"That's a good feeling. Some players who went on to the pros achieved more on that level, and some people who played at Penn State gained more yards. But I feel good about the fact that I achieved that honor."
Cappelletti gained national attention from the award with his emotional acceptance speech dedicated to his brother, Joseph, who was dying of leukemia.
Cappelletti had an undistinguished NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams
from 1974 to 1978 and the San Diego Chargers from 1980 until 1983 before retiring. He missed the 1979 season because of stomach and groin injuries.
"It (Penn State) was a good place to develop overall, not just as a football player," said Cappelletti, who is in the swimming-pool and landscape construction business. "I could have gone to a place where there's a football dorm and where you don't have to do much in the classroom, but that would have been a little bit different for me.
"I probably could have adjusted. But Penn State is the way it is. It makes you aware of the way you have to do things to be productive on the football field and in the classroom.
"It was an extension of what I had learned growing up from my family and my parents. It was something that made me feel comfortable."
Up front in the people department, of course, was coach Joe Paterno.
"Joe is just a sincere and genuine person," Cappelletti said. "If he tells you something, you can pretty much believe it.
"I remember when I was one of four co-captains in my senior year, not one time did I go to Joe with a player's problems. I never knew if I was the best guy to do the talking.
"I wasn't afraid of him, but it felt like I was approaching my father with a problem. It's the type of thing where you don't know if it's the best thing to do, to tell him or not."