Hostetler during his collegiate career with West Virginia
|Date of birth:||April 22, 1961|
|Place of birth:||Jerome, Pennsylvania|
|NFL draft:||1984 / Round: 3 / Pick: 59|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
William Jeffrey Hostetler (born April 22, 1961) is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League for the New York Giants, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, and Washington Redskins. His nickname is "Hoss".
Hostetler started his career at Penn State, where he started three games for the 1980 season. But Todd Blackledge beat him for the job, and Hostetler transferred to West Virginia. Hostetler sat out the 1981 season, due to NCAA transfer rules, while Mountaineers' quarterback Oliver Luck led the Mountaineers to an upset win against the University of Florida, led by Frank Presutti, in the Peach Bowl.
Hostetler's first game as a Mountaineer was a 41-27 win over the #6 Oklahoma Sooners, when he threw for four touchdowns and 321 yards. The upset victory earned Hostetler Offensive Player of the Week honors from Sports Illustrated. Another big win that '82 season was a week later against the University of Maryland Terrapins, who were led by Boomer Esiason. The Mountaineers won 19–18 against the Top 10 ranked Terps. The Terps lost the game on a two-point conversion, while Hostetler threw for 285 yards and a touchdown. Hostetler led the Mountaineers to the 1982 Gator Bowl, where they lost to Florida State 31–12. Hostetler totaled 1,916 yards with ten touchdown passes that season.
In 1983, Hostetler led the #7 Mountaineers over Big East rival Pitt after a fourth quarter run to beat the Panthers 24–21, the first victory over Pitt in seven years. Hostetler led the game-winning drive that he capped out with a bootleg touchdown run for victory. In the 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl, Hostetler pulled out a come-from-behind 20-16 victory over the University of Kentucky, throwing two touchdowns. Hostetler finished his college career in the 1984 Hula Bowl and in the Japan Bowl. Hostetler threw for 2,345 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior season.
Hostetler's two-year tenure at WVU led him to an 18–6 record under coach Don Nehlen. Hostetler ranks among single-season leaders at WVU in total offense, passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, touchdown passes and passing efficiency. Hostetler also is the career leader in interception avoidance. Hostetler was named to the WVU all-time roster. In 1998, Hostetler was inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Hostetler was named to the 1984 GTE/CoSIDA academic All-America team and that same year won the National Football Foundation postgraduate scholarship. He was also a fan favorite in Morgantown and inspired a record, "Ole Hoss (The Ballad of West Virginia's Jeff Hostetler)".
Hostetler was drafted by the Giants in the third round of the 1984 NFL Draft, where he served as backup to Phil Simms. In his first five seasons, despite earning a Super Bowl ring with the 1986 Giants, he played sparingly, rarely making an appearance as he was the third string quarterback behind both Simms and Jeff Rutledge. His first start came late in the 1988 season, where he helped lead the Giants to victory in a road game against the New Orleans Saints. In 1989, he started a key game in the middle of the season, leading the Giants to a Monday night victory over the Minnesota Vikings. However, outside of these games Hostetler's primary roles were mop-up duty and holder for kickers Raul Allegre, Bjorn Nittmo, and Matt Bahr. In 2007, in the episode of America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions that profiled the 1990 Giants team, Hostetler noted that he was frustrated with his lack of playing time and volunteered to play other positions including receiver and blocker on the punt return team. Hostetler's frustration reached a boiling point during the week leading up to the Giants' matchup with the Buffalo Bills on December 15, 1990. Hostetler recounted that he was all but done with football and would retire at the end of the season.
As fate had it, Hostetler was going to get his wish for more playing time but it would come at the expense of Simms. During the game against Buffalo, Simms went down with a foot injury and Hostetler was called on to replace him. The Giants lost the game against Buffalo, dropping them to 11-3 on the year, but Hostetler led them to victories in their last two regular season games and their first playoff game against the Chicago Bears.
In the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Hostetler was injured in the fourth quarter when Jim Burt tackled him below the knees. Although his knee was injured on the play, Hostetler was able to walk off the field on his own and later led the team to two late scoring drives, culminating with a Bahr field goal, and a 15-13 victory.
The next week Hostetler led the Giants past the favored Bills in Super Bowl XXV, 20–19. During the game, he completed 20 of 32 passes for 222 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. In 2008, ESPN ranked Hostetler's performance #30 for the best quarterback performances in Super Bowl history. Hostetler reconsidered his retirement and elected to return for the 1991 season.
During the summer of 1991, new coach Ray Handley made a decision regarding his quarterbacks. Instead of giving the starting job back to the now-healthy Simms, the coach allowed Hostetler to compete with the veteran for the spot. Hostetler beat out Simms for the position and led the Giants to victory in the season opener against the 49ers at home, snapping their NFL-record 18 game road winning streak. Hostetler started 12 games for the Giants in 1991, winning six. However, in his twelfth start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hostetler broke his back and missed the rest of the season. Of the games Hostetler started (including the one he didn't finish), the Giants went 7-5. Simms, meanwhile, lost his first three starts against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals (who won only three times that year), the Philadelphia Eagles (a loss which eliminated the Giants from playoff contention), and the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. The Giants managed to win their final matchup against the Houston Oilers to finish 8-8.
When Hostetler returned from his injury in 1992, he once again was placed in competition with Simms for the starting quarterback position. Simms won the job, but after a Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders, Hostetler again was pressed into service as Simms suffered a season-ending injury. Again, however, Hostetler was unable to stay healthy and he only managed 9 starts, playing in four more games, and missed three other games with injuries including a concussion. While Hostetler had the best record of any Giants starter in 1992 (5-4), he was not retained by the team following the season and signed with the Los Angeles Raiders to be their starter in 1993.
During his four years as a Raider, Hostetler was voted to his only Pro Bowl, in 1994. He also led them to an impressive 42-24 playoff win over the Denver Broncos in the 1993 season, throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns in the last NFL playoff game played in Los Angeles. He finished his career with two seasons with the Redskins (1997 and 1998); during his last season he spent much of his time on injured reserve and did not see any playing time.
Hostetler retired with 1,357 of 2,338 completions for 16,430 yards and 94 touchdowns, with 71 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,391 yards and 17 touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive about Hostetler was his ability to perform very well in the post-season. In five playoff games, he completed 72 of 115 passes (62.6 percent) for 1,034 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 112.0 passer rating while going 4-1.
Hostetler now lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, and owns a construction company. Hostetler is a descendant of the Amish-Mennonite immigrant, Jacob Hochstetler. With his wife, Vicky (the daughter of his college head coach), he has three sons. Hostetler graduated with a 3.85 GPA in Finance from West Virginia University. His nephew is Ryan Nehlen, who played wide receiver for the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Chris Cuomo of ABC News interviewed Hostetler as part of One Moment in Time: The Life of Whitney Houston, a two-hour special on ABC shortly after the 2012 death of singer Whitney Houston. In Super Bowl XXV, Houston performed "The Star-Spangled Banner", and Hostetler and Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson reflected on Houston's performance in that game.
- DAVE ANDERSONPublished: October 12, 1997 (1997-10-12). "Sports of The Times; Not a Quarterback Controversy. It's Simply a Contest.". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- The Hoss Foundation: A charitable organization founded by Jeff Hostetler
- Oakland Raiders biography of Hostetler, 1996 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 1, 1997)
- Pro Football Reference