Jeff Blake

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Jeff Blake
No. 9, 8, 18, 11
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1970-12-04) December 4, 1970 (age 53)
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:223 lb (101 kg)
Career information
High school:Seminole (Sanford, Florida)
College:East Carolina
NFL draft:1992 / Round: 6 / Pick: 166
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT:134–99
Passing yards:21,711
Passer rating:78.0
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Jeffrey Bertrand Blake (born December 4, 1970) is an American former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons. Blake was a member of seven teams during his career, playing his longest stint with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1994 to 1999. Prior to his five seasons in Cincinnati, he was selected in the sixth round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, who he was a member of for two seasons.[1] He spent the second half of his career playing for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2001 and one season each with the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Chicago Bears.

During his Bengals tenure, Blake was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1995. He holds the record for the longest Pro Bowl touchdown at 92 yards.

Early life and college[edit]

Blake was born on December 4, 1970 in Daytona Beach, Florida to Peggy and Emory Blake. His father was a slotback for the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts. Tragedy struck on July 5, 1976 when his mother died when trying to rescue her younger sibling from drowning at Wekiwa Springs State Park. Emory decided to cancel a tryout scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and find a job to be with his only son. He was soon hired as a physical education teacher and coach in the school system of Sanford, Florida.[2] Blake was near his father's side growing up, whether that involved singing in the choir at Progress Missionary Baptist Church to his pastor father or as a sideline helper at Seminole High School to his coach father.

Blake was a star quarterback at Seminole High School in Florida, with his father Emory as offensive coordinator. When it came to recruiting, Florida, Miami, and Florida State tried to recruit him outside of the quarterback position, which he resisted. Of the three to actually offer him a chance to play the QB position, Blake chose East Carolina University, who heavily recruited him and gave him confidence that he could play at the school because "They were used to having black quarterbacks there...so in their eyes I was simply a quarterback."[3] After playing sparingly in his first two years, he got more time to play as the starter in 1990. They were 5-6 that year, but the 1991 was a shock all the way around, as they ultimately won eleven games (three of them versus ranked teams) while Blake finished sixth in the 1991 Heisman Trophy voting and the Pirates finished with a #9 ranking at the end of the season. He was inducted into the East Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.[4]

College statistics[edit]

Season Team GP Passing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rtg
1988 East Carolina 3 4 9 44.4 62 0 0 102.3
1989 East Carolina 11 37 71 52.1 488 2 2 113.5
1990 East Carolina 11 116 219 53.0 1,510 13 10 121.3
1991 East Carolina 11 203 368 55.2 3,073 28 8 146.1
College career 34 360 667 54.0 5,133 43 20 133.9

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Vertical jump
5 ft 11+34 in
(1.82 m)
202 lb
(92 kg)
32+78 in
(0.84 m)
8+12 in
(0.22 m)
4.86 s 1.68 s 2.81 s 4.60 s 30.5 in
(0.77 m)
All values from NFL Combine[5]

Blake was not valued highly as a draft prospect due to his height, which was measured slightly under 6 feet.[6] Blake was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Jets in 1992 but he played little before being cut in 1993. He credited head coach Bruce Coslet in instilling the steps to have a lengthy career by having a focus on defense and trying to read defenses, which they did for the first four weeks Blake was with the Jets. When Coslet was fired after the 1993 season, he soon was hired as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. He encouraged the Bengals to pick up Blake, who was brought into a roster that had David Klinger as the starter and Donald Hollas as the presumed backup. The 1994 Bengals were 0-7 with David Klingler before Blake was thrust into the starting role due to injuries by Klingler and Hollas. He threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against the Dallas Cowboys in a narrow 23-20 loss. Blake went 3-6 as a starter, throwing for 2,154 yards with 14 touchdowns to 9 interceptions. He was named the starter for the 1995 season. That year saw local interest for his play, with a rap song even being composed called "Shake-N-Blake"; he established great rapport with Bengal receivers Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott, helping the former vie for the receiving title in 1995. They won only seven games, but Blake threw for 3,822 yards with 28 touchdowns to 17 interceptions as Blake made the Pro Bowl. One writer later argued that his play helped influence Ohio voters in Hamilton County to approve a sales tax increase to help fund a new new stadium for the team, as the measure passed in March 1996 (the stadium opened in 2000).[7] He signed a five-year, $13.1 million contract not long before the Pro Bowl selection. The 1996 season, where the Bengals went 8-8 with Blake as starter, was the only one between 1991-2002 that did not result in a losing season. He threw for 3,624 yards with 24 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. The 1997 season was less successful. Amidst a year that saw him start just 11 games (with others filled by Boomer Esiason), Blake threw for 2,125 yards with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. 1998 saw Blake passed over for free agent Neil O'Donnell for all but two games. He was given the bulk of the time in 1999 while they tried to nurture newly drafted Akili Smith, with Blake going 3-9 and throwing for 2,670 yards with 16 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

Frustrated by management, Blake left the Bengals after the 1999 season in free agency.[8] He signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. Blake started 11 games at quarterback before breaking his foot late in the 2000 season and being replaced by Aaron Brooks. He threw for 2,025 yards with 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions as the Saints were 7-4 with him as starter as Brooks led the Saints to the playoffs. Blake left the Saints after the 2001 season saw him get no starts in favor of Brooks. He started 11 games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2002 (after injury to Chris Redman) and 13 games for the Cardinals in 2003, but neither team expressed interest in signing him to a long-term contract.

Blake was signed by the Chicago Bears before the 2005 NFL season to replace back-up quarterback Chad Hutchinson. Following an injury to the Bears' starting quarterback, Rex Grossman, coach Lovie Smith opted to select rookie Kyle Orton to fill the slot. During the last game of the regular NFL season, Blake was put in to replace Kyle Orton during the fourth quarter, completing eight of nine passes. Despite stating that he wished to continue playing for the Bears and work with Grossman,[9] the Bears did not express any interest in re-signing Blake. His contract with the team expired before the start of the 2006 NFL season. His position was filled by Kyle Orton, who was demoted after the Bears signed Brian Griese to serve as Grossman's back-up. At the conclusion of his fourteen-year career, Blake amassed 21,711 passing yards, with 134 touchdown passes, and 99 interceptions. A mobile quarterback, Blake ran for 2,027 career rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. He made 100 career starts.

Personal life[edit]

Blake settled in Austin, Texas after retirement. He met his wife Lewanna as a sophomore in college, and they had four children in Emory, Torre, Trey, and Lahne. His son Emory won a national championship with Auburn in 2010. He threw footballs for his son for Auburn's Pro Day.[10] In 2017, he expressed interest in trying to open a football academy, as he had done a handful of sessions with football players over the years. He worked as a coach at IMG Academy as Director of the QB Academy.[11] In 2023, he was hired to serve as head coach and offensive coordinator for Valley Sports Academy with the Prepstar 7-on-7 football team in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1992 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  2. ^ Fleming, David. "SUDDEN SUCCESS JEFF BLAKE WAS ON THE BRINK OF NFL EXTINCTION WHEN THE BENGALS CALLED; JUST LOOK AT HIM NOW". Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  3. ^ Bembry, Jerry (November 30, 2017). "For starters, Jeff Blake never lacked confidence". Andscape. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  4. ^ "ECU Athletics Hall of Fame". East Carolina University Athletics. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "Jeff Blake, Combine Results, QB - East Carolina (NC)". nflcombineresults.com. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  6. ^ "No critic can shake QB Blake". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  7. ^ Makdook, Dadio (August 9, 2021). "Paul Brown Stadium is arguably the "house that Jeff Blake built"". Cincy Jungle. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  8. ^ Makdook, Dadio (August 11, 2015). "Exclusive interview with Jeff Blake". Cincy Jungle. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  9. ^ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20060321/ai_n16151519[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Former NFL QB Jeff Blake throws to his son at Auburn's Pro Day". Yahoo Sports. March 6, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  11. ^ "Jeff Blake". IMG Academy. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  12. ^ Choroser, Philip (January 31, 2023). "Former NFL QB to Coach 7 on 7 Football Team". www.weau.com. Retrieved January 10, 2024.

External links[edit]