|Cornerback / Safety|
|Date of birth:March 8, 1975|
|Place of birth: Phoenix, Arizona|
|High school: McClintock High School|
|NFL Draft: 1997 / Round: 3 / Pick: 94|
|Debuted in 1997|
|Last played in 1999|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
|Stats at DatabaseFootball.com|
Kenneth Tyron Wheaton (born March 8, 1975 in Phoenix, Arizona) is a former professional American football defensive back in the National Football League. He was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He was a CFL All-Star with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
Wheaton attended McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona. He played college football at the University of Oregon, where in his freshman season in 1994, he made arguably the most famous play in Ducks history known as "The Pick." As time was winding down and the University of Washington was driving down to the Oregon nine-yard line, Wheaton intercepted a Damon Huard pass and ran it back for a touchdown not just to save the game, but also signaled the start of a new era of winning football for the University of Oregon. After his junior season, he became the first player in school history to declare early for the NFL draft.
In 2011 he was inducted into to the Oregon Hall of Fame.
Wheaton was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. His rookie season was a difficult one, a separated shoulder he suffered in a scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders, caused him to miss the first 3 pre-season games, he would return to play in the last exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans, but he re-injured the shoulder and was forced to miss the first 14 regular season games. At the end of the year he also missed time, in order to deal with the death of his younger brother (Derrek), who was killed in a drive-by shooting. He still would play in the last two games, registering four tackles against the New York Giants in the season finale.
In 1998, after considering that he was the fifth cornerback on the depth chart and that Deion Sanders and Kevin Smith were the team starters, he asked the coaches to convert him to free safety. At his new position, although he was effective defending the pass, he had problems in run-support.
In 1999, he suffered a knee injury while playing against the Indianapolis Colts in the 8th game, that would require season ending surgery, that placed him on the injured reserve on November 17, 1998. The injury would turned to be career threatening and the Cowboys didn't renew his contract at the end of the year.
Detroit Fury (AFL)
After being out of football for two years rehabbing his knee injury, in 2002 he signed with the Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League, playing nine games ( 6 starts). He was traded to the Colorado Crush during the offseason, only to be cut by the team in training camp.
In 2004, during a playoff game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Wheaton intercepted a pass in the end zone. In a play reminiscent of "The Pick" in his famous college game, Wheaton returned the interception from deep in his own end for a touchdown setting a CFL post-season record for the longest ever interception return for a touchdown (116 yards). Wheaton went on to help his team win the 92nd Grey Cup championship with the Argonauts that season.
Wheaton was named to CFL East Division All-Star team each year between 2005-2008.
On January 9, 2009, Wheaton was released by the Argonauts.
Wheaton's younger brother Derrek also attended McClintock High School playing varsity football, basketball, and baseball. He went on to play college football at Phoenix College and received a football scholarship to attend the University of Oregon. Derrek was killed on his way home from the Phoenix College football banquet, he was the random victim of a drive by shooting. The Arizona Junior High School Basketball Tournament honors Derrek's memory with the Derrek Wheaton MVP Award.[dead link]
Wheaton's younger cousins Marquese Wheaton played for University of Southern Mississippi, became a Free Agent and was picked up by Tampa Buccaneers for 2012 NFL Season. Marquese's little brother Markus Wheaton played for Oregon State University, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 79th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
- "The Toronto Argonauts Football Club has released #30 DS Kenny Wheaton".
- Bellamy, Ron (July 29, 1998). "Dream keeps Wheaton going". The Register-Guard. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
- "Derrek Wheaton MVP Award".
- "Two Parade All-Americans Highlight UTEP Football Recruiting Class". Retrieved November 26, 2009.
- Oregon Hall of Fame bio
- Kenny Wheaton Foundation
- Video of "The Pick"
- Oregon Coach Rich Brooks looks back at “The Pick”