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Mike Vrabel

Vrabel in February 2008
No. 50     Kansas City Chiefs
Outside linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: August 14, 1975 (1975-08-14) (age 34)
Place of birth: Akron, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 261 lb (118 kg)
Career information
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft: 1997 / Round: 3 / Pick: 91
Debuted in 1997 for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Career history
 As player:
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
Tackles     669
Sacks     57.0
INTs     11
Receiving TDs     9
Stats at NFL.com

Michael George "Mike" Vrabel (pronounced /ˈvreɪbəl/; born August 14, 1975 in Akron, Ohio) is an American football linebacker of Macedonian heritage, for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. Vrabel played college football at Ohio State.

He also spent eight seasons with the New England Patriots, where he set NFL records as a linebacker.

Contents

College career

After attending Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Vrabel played defensive end at Ohio State. He was named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team.

Due to Vrabel having played at Ohio State, and former Patriots teammate Tom Brady having played for the Buckeyes' arch-rival, Michigan, the two players make an annual wager over the outcome of the yearly meeting between the two schools.

Professional career

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Vrabel was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round (91st overall) of the 1997 Draft.

He spent the first four seasons of his career in Pittsburgh (wearing #56). His most notable play as a Steeler came in his rookie season, when he sacked Drew Bledsoe in the 1997-98 AFC Divisional Playoffs to clinch a 7-6 win for the Steelers. Nevertheless, Vrabel was a backup for the Steelers throughout his tenure there, and had considered retiring from the NFL before he signed with the Patriots.

At the end of Vrabel's tenure with the Steelers, it had mostly been an issue with the numbers game at linebacker, as the Steelers had veterans Jason Gildon and Earl Holmes firmly in as the starters as well as the emergence of Joey Porter at the position. Before leaving for New England, Steelers head coach Bill Cowher told Vrabel that while he believed Vrabel would be a starter in the NFL, he wouldn't be a starter with the Steelers. Vrabel has since credited Cowher for his decision not to retire and sign with the Patriots.

New England Patriots

Almost immediately upon joining the Patriots, Vrabel became a major player in their defense: he played in every game his first season in New England, starting 12.

Vrabel has exemplified the versatility sought by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: in addition to his work as a linebacker, Vrabel frequently checked in as a tight end in short-yardage situations, which makes him an eligible receiver. Belichick took advantage of this in Super Bowl XXXVIII: in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Vrabel, making Vrabel the first defensive player to score a Super Bowl touchdown on offense since William "Refrigerator" Perry did so for the Chicago Bears against the Patriots in Super Bowl XX in 1986. Vrabel was one of the defensive stars in that game as well; he had two sacks (one forcing a fumble) of Carolina's Jake Delhomme, and was a contender for the Super Bowl MVP award that went to Brady.

Despite Brady's penchant for throwing to Vrabel in such situations, teams are often unable to cover Vrabel properly: in Super Bowl XXXIX, Vrabel caught a 2-yard touchdown pass, despite being held by Philadelphia's Jevon Kearse; that catch is pictured on the cover of the 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. The reception makes him one of 17 players to catch two or more touchdown passes in Super Bowls.

As of October 2009, Vrabel has had eleven career receptions, and all for 1- or 2-yard touchdowns (one in 2002, two in 2004, three in 2005, and two in 2007 in the regular season, and one each in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX) with the Patriots and one in 2009 with the Chiefs (thrown by former Patriot Matt Cassel). According to the website Cold Hard Football Facts, no other player in NFL history has as good a record of converting receptions to touchdowns. His versatility was good enough for NFL Network to rank him #7 on their Top 10 episode of the Greatest Versatile Players.

In week 8 of the 2007 season, Mike Vrabel forced 3 fumbles, had 3 sacks, recovered an onside kick, and scored an offensive touchdown against the Washington Redskins, for which he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. In December 2007 he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time, as a starter; in January 2008 he was named to the NFL All-Pro team.

On December 26, 2005, on the final Monday Night Football game on ABC, Vrabel became, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first player—since the official recording of sacks began in 1982—to have two touchdown catches and a sack in the same game.[1]

Vrabel was also key in the final game of the 2007 regular season when he recovered an onside kick, thereby sealing a perfect 16-0 season for the Patriots.

Though right outside linebacker had been Vrabel's primary position in the Patriots' 3-4 scheme in his first four seasons with New England, in 2005 Vrabel moved to inside linebacker, because of the limited effectiveness of inside backers Monty Beisel and Chad Brown, although he had never before played inside in the NFL. By the time Tedy Bruschi had returned from injury, he and Vrabel were the two men starting inside. Rosevelt Colvin successfully filled Vrabel's old spot, and many cite the change in positions as a major contributor to the Patriots' rebound in the second half of the season. Vrabel moved inside again late in the 2006 season, after Junior Seau broke his arm.

Kansas City Chiefs

On February 27, 2009, the Patriots traded Vrabel, who was in the last year of his contract, to the Kansas City Chiefs for an undisclosed draft pick.[2] The following day it was revealed that Patriots traded both Vrabel and Matt Cassel in exchange for the Chiefs' second-round pick (#34 overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft.[3]

Personal

His father Charles Vrabel is a high school teacher and principal in Ohio and currently is the principal at Buckeye High School. Vrabel, his wife Jen, and their two sons, Tyler and Carter, live in Easton, Massachusetts. During the off-season he lives in Southern Delaware county, just North of Columbus, Ohio.

References

External links


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