This holiday season, when you kick your feet up to watch football, remember this: There are engineers out there. Not just on college teams, but in the pros, as well.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle, Eric Fisher, for example, is a mechanical engineer. So is James Develin of the New England Patriots. This year, the National Football League (NFL) also has three cheerleaders with engineering degrees, including a systems engineer, chemical engineer, and computer engineer.
Going back a bit further in history, the founder of the NFL, George Halas, was an engineer. At least five NFL Hall-of-Famers were also engineers. One former NFL quarterback was an engineering professor. And one family, well-known to football fans (the Matthews), has had two engineer-footballers.
We’ve collected photos of current and former NFL players, coaches, and cheerleaders who once wrestled with thermodynamics. From fullbacks to mechanical engineers, we offer a brief list. Did we forget anyone? Tell us in the comments section below.
Click on the photo of Bruce Matthews below to see who else made our list.
Bruce Matthews, son of Clay Matthews, Sr., spent 19 years as a professional lineman. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California. “You know, I think playing football actually helped my grades,” he once told a USC newspaper. “My GPA was always higher in the fall, during football season, because my schedule was so tight.” (Source: Tennessee Titans)
Chuck, as the last slide mentions, many engineers don't fit the mold. It is a very interesting slide show. When I was at the University of Maryland in the 1970s I remember meeting the quarterback of the team who, I was told, was a Rhodes Scholar.
While many of these people do not "fit the mold", I did experinece a situation where you could tell who did what based on their looks. In the 1980s I was working on a large Army project. There the officers did look (had a body type) that matched their profession. The engineers we generally smaller and often wore glasses. I wonder if that was a part of the screening process.
Any student on an athletic career path would be wise to get a backup professional education. A very small percentage makes it into pro sports due to an extremely wide variety obstacles. There are far more positions available for engineers, doctors, accountants, and lawyers than there are professional for professional sports players.
I agree. I have two sons who play high school basketball and they're thoughts are on becoming NBA players in the future. Although they play good basketball, my wife and I always stress academics as the real focus while they're in school. As you mentioned its quite difficult to become a pro athlete because of the strong competition among players. Therefore, chosing a career as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer is easily obtainable than becoming an athlete and can provide a comfortable lifestyle as well. As the slides depict, these remarkable athletes and cheerleaders have an engineering career to fall back on which truly makes them superstars in sports.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
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