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Neil O'Donnell
Jersey #(s)
12, 14
Born July 3, 1966 (1966-07-03) (age 43)
Morristown, New Jersey
Career information
Year(s) 19902003
NFL Draft 1990 / Round: 3 / Pick: 70
College Maryland
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 120-68
Yards 21,690
QB Rating 81.8
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Neil Kennedy O'Donnell (born July 3, 1966 in Morristown, New Jersey) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League for 14 seasons (19902003) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tennessee Titans. He played college football at the University of Maryland.




Early life and education

O'Donnell grew up in Madison, New Jersey, and played high school football there at Madison High School.[1]

NFL career

O'Donnell played in Super Bowl XXX but threw two interceptions to Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown to set up short touchdown drives in the second half.

Following the Super Bowl letdown, O'Donnell signed as a free agent with the New York Jets, where he was 0–6 in his first season as starter before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury despite throwing for 292 or more yards in three of these starts. His performance would improve the following season under new coach Bill Parcells the following year, 1997.

In 1998, with the then-1–3 Bengals, O'Donnell threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carl Pickens with 20 seconds remaining to score the winning touchdown against 3–1 Pittsburgh. O'Donnell's 90.2 passer rating was sixth among regular starting quarterbacks in the NFL and third in the AFC. The Bengals would go on to finish 3–13 under O'Donnell and coach Bruce Coslet. O'Donnell was released at the end of the season to make room for rookie quarterback Akili Smith.

From 1999 onwards, O'Donnell was Steve McNair's backup with the Titans. He performed well, winning four of his five starts for an injured McNair in 1999, leaving a perennial .500 team at 5-1 upon McNair's return. Later, he came off the bench and led Tennessee to a Week 17 47-36 victory in Pittsburgh en route to the AFC Championship.

O'Donnell was lured out of retirement in December 2003, when McNair and Billy Volek were injured. O'Donnell started the regular-season finale and was highly effective. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Titans to a 33-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

O'Donnell ended his career with the lowest interception percentage in NFL history, averaging just 2.11 interceptions for every 100 pass attempts.[2] His record has since been surpassed by Donovan McNabb, David Garrard, and Jason Campbell.[3] O'Donnell also wore number 14 during most of his career except during his one-year stint with the Bengals, where he wore number 12. The Bengals haven't issued number 14 since the retirement of former quarterback & West Coast offense pioneer Ken Anderson--ironically, now the quarterbacks coach for the Steelers.

Post football career

O'Donnell permanently retired after the 2003 season. In 2004 he declined head coach Bill Cowher's offer to return to the Steelers after starting quarterback Tommy Maddox sustained a season-ending injury.[4]

O'Donnell found work as a sports analyst, primarily covering the Titans at WTVF, Nashville's CBS affiliate, from 2005-2007. He is currently a sales representative for FieldTurf in Kentucky and Tennessee.[5]


External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bubby Brister
Pittsburgh Steelers Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Jim Miller
Preceded by
Boomer Esiason
New York Jets Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Glenn Foley
Preceded by
Jeff Blake
Cincinnati Bengals Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Jeff Blake


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