He was a first round draft pick (23rd pick overall) of the Detroit Lions in the 1996 NFL Draft, and he played for the Lions from 1996 to 2000. He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent in 2001, where he moved from right guard to center. He has been selected to represent the AFC at the Pro Bowl twice (after the 2004 and 2005 seasons). Hartings retired following the 2006 season, citing recurring knee problems as one of the reasons for his decision.
Jeff Hartings was a high school teammate and graduating classmate of former Ohio State, Philadelphia Eagle, and Oakland Raider quarterback Bobby Hoying at St. Henry High School, a school with an average graduating class of about 100 students. St. Henry High School also produced accomplished former NFL offensive tackleJim Lachey.