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Jeff George
Position(s)
Quarterback
Jersey #(s)
11, 1, 3
Born December 8, 1967 (1967-12-08) (age 42)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Career information
Year(s) 19902006
NFL Draft 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
College Illinois
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 154-113
Yards 27,602
QB Rating 80.4
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" George (born December 8, 1967) is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League. He was the first overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. George played for the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears.

Contents

Early life

George was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Warren Central High School, where he was awarded the Dial Award for the national high-school scholar-athlete of the year in 1985 and was the first Gatorade National Player of the Year. Collegiately, he attended Purdue University and the University of Illinois.

College career

George transferred after a year at Purdue University because the coach who recruited him, Leon Burtnett, was fired. Burtnett's replacement was Fred Akers, who had been known for his teams that used an option type offense that was not to George's liking. He subsequently committed to the University of Miami, but he backed out when coach Jimmy Johnson would not guarantee him a starting job at the QB-rich school. The schoolboy legend from Indianapolis ended up leaving the home-state school and became a Fighting Illini. He stayed at Illinois for two years, leaving with a year of eligibility remaining after being assured he would be drafted in the first five picks of the NFL draft (he was picked #1).

Pro career

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Indianapolis Colts

The Colts traded to draft George, making him the first pick in the 1990 draft, and then rewarded him with the richest rookie contract in NFL history. What should have been a dream career with his hometown Colts turned ugly almost from the start. By the time it ended after four seasons with a trade to the Atlanta Falcons, he had made vile gestures to the hometown fans, argued with coach Ted Marchibroda, held out for 36 days, and tried to get a trade.

Atlanta Falcons

After four seasons with Indianapolis, the team that drafted him as their quarterback of the future, George was shipped to the Falcons, where he enjoyed a measure of success as the ringleader of their run & shoot-themed offense. In 1995, he led the Falcons to their first playoff appearance since 1991. On September 22, 1996, in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, George got into a heated argument on the sidelines with then-Falcons coach June Jones, all of which was caught on camera for a national television audience. Jones suspended George for the remainder of the 1996 season and Atlanta dealt George to the Oakland Raiders after the season. Years after the incident, Jones actually became an advocate for George, stating that the TV argument was overblown and George was actually a good quarterback, a team player and worthy of being on an NFL roster.

Oakland Raiders

George looked like a perfect fit with the Raiders, who have always loved vertical passing in the Al Davis era, and whose fans seem to embrace players who have long since worn out their welcome in other NFL cities. And George did fit in, for a while: in 1997, George tied for the NFL lead with 29 touchdown passes, compared to only 9 interceptions, plus a lofty 91.2 passer rating. The team, however, struggled to a 4-12 season. The next year, the offense had changed to head coach Jon Gruden's West Coast scheme, a controlled-pass approach, that did not suit George's strengths. George was inconsistent at the beginning of the year, and later struggled with a groin pull, telling a local radio audience that he was finished for the year, which was news to the team. He also ignored the Offensive Coordinator's play calls during the 1998 season and ran his own plays through a wristband containing plays. The Raiders then ended George's Oakland tenure when they signed free-agent quarterback Rich Gannon.

Minnesota Vikings

Next, George went to the Vikings, where he would sit behind incumbent QB Randall Cunningham, who was coming off a fantastic 1998 season. Cunningham, however, struggled at the start of the 1999 season and was benched. Out of the wings stepped George, who in 10 games as a starter went 8-2 and put up excellent numbers (23 touchdowns, 8.6 yards per attempt, a 94.2 rating) in leading Minnesota to the playoffs. George won his first career playoff game, throwing three touchdown passes to lead the Vikings over the Dallas Cowboys 27-10. The Vikings lost the next week to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Rams 49-37. The Vikings chose not to renew George's contract after the season, and George ended up signing a lucrative contract with Washington.

Washington Redskins

George had hopes of either returning to Minnesota as starter or signing with another team as their starting quarterback, but he waited too long to make a decision prior to the 2000 season, and as a result had to settle for being Brad Johnson's backup with the Washington Redskins. Johnson went down in week 9; George replaced him, and went 1-2 in the next three games, though one of the losses came down to a missed Redskins field goal attempt. Johnson returned, but played poorly against the New York Giants. George replaced him, and led the Redskins back into the game, but again a missed field goal attempt cost the Redskins a chance to win. George started two games, both losses, after Norv Turner was fired in favor of interim coach Terry Robiskie. After the season, Johnson departed Washington for Tampa Bay, leaving George as the Redskins' starter going into 2001.

Before the 2001 season, Washington hired Marty Schottenheimer as head coach, and Schottenheimer promised to install a West-Coast scheme similar to that of Jon Gruden in Oakland. George clashed with Schottenheimer over the offense, though Schottenheimer promised to work George through any problems he might have with the scheme. That uneasy agreement lasted exactly 2 weeks into the regular season, when Washington released George on the heels of a 37-0 Monday Night loss to the Green Bay Packers. After the game, George had a 34.6 passer rating, ranking last in the NFL, and the Redskins were 0-2, having been outscored by opponents 67-3. George was replaced by Tony Banks, who lost the next three games before stunning the league and winning 5 in a row, the first time an 0-5 team improved to 5-5. The Redskins still finished 8-8, and their coach was fired.

Seattle Seahawks

George seemingly retired after his last game in Washington, but he proceeded to make several sideline appearances in the following years. He signed briefly with the Seattle Seahawks in late 2002 as an emergency quarterback but never saw any playing time.

Chicago Bears

In 2004, after two years away from the game, the Chicago Bears became the seventh NFL team to employ George, signing him to a one-year contract in November for a partial season backup role; but again he never took the field during a game, and he wasn't retained by the Bears for the 2005 season, and was not signed by any team. The Detroit Lions worked him out during their bye week in the event they needed another quarterback. However, George was not offered a contract.

Back with the Oakland Raiders

On August 28, 2006, the Oakland Raiders signed George. He was expected to compete for the third-string quarterback position. However, he was released by Oakland just five days later, on September 2, 2006.

Retirement

While George spent time on active NFL rosters through 2006, he had not attempted a pass since the 2001 season with the Washington Redskins. It was speculated that he might have replaced third string quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo due to his friendship with Randy Moss. Moss has previously stated that George was his favorite of all the quarterbacks he's worked with. He has also commented in the past that he and George would take weekend fishing trips together when they both lived in Minnesota.

On October 30, 2007 during Mike and Mike in the Morning, Michael Kim in a SportsCenter update reported that George was interested in making another comeback, this time with the Minnesota Vikings, a team where he once had some success.

In November 2008, in an appearance on Sirius NFL Radio, George said, "I find it hard to believe there isn't a place in the game for me. My arm feels like I'm 25," he said. "I'm not asking to be a starter, I just want a spot on a team. I still hold out hope I can play in this league. I'm working out three or four days a week, staying ready. Some people might laugh about it. I've been hearing the excuse, 'You're too old,' but I look at guys now playing near 40, and if you can throw it like I can throw it ... Why wouldn't you take a look at me?"[1] He said of coming back: “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back in, and it just amazes me that I’m not on somebody’s roster. I’ve been throwing two or three times a week, and every time I go out there to throw, I can’t believe I’m not a backup somewhere. I know it’s a young man’s game, but you can’t tell me I’m not better than some of the quarterbacks that are out there. I look at teams like Minnesota or Chicago, and I want to scream at the people in charge, ‘What are you thinking?’ ”

Media

George has made occasional appearances on NFL Total Access with Rich Eisen and Terrell Davis.

For years since George's most recent seasons in the NFL, Jason Whitlock has written several columns expressing his belief that George could still play and was deserving of an NFL try-out.[2] George and Whitlock are both longtime friends, having both played high school football together.[2]

References

External links

Preceded by
Troy Aikman
1st Overall Pick in NFL Draft
1990
Succeeded by
Russell Maryland
Preceded by
Jack Trudeau
Indianapolis Colts Starting Quarterbacks
1990-1993
Succeeded by
Jim Harbaugh
Preceded by
Bobby Hebert
Atlanta Falcons Starting Quarterbacks
1994-1996
Succeeded by
Chris Chandler
Preceded by
Jeff Hostetler
Oakland Raiders Starting Quarterbacks
1997-1998
Succeeded by
Rich Gannon
Preceded by
Randall Cunningham
Minnesota Vikings Starting Quarterbacks
1999
Succeeded by
Daunte Culpepper
Preceded by
Brad Johnson
Washington Redskins Starting Quarterbacks
2000
Succeeded by
Brad Johnson
Preceded by
Brad Johnson
Washington Redskins Starting Quarterbacks
2001
Succeeded by
Tony Banks

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