Kenny Wheaton

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Kenny Wheaton
No. 30
Position: Cornerback / Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1975-03-08) March 8, 1975 (age 42)
Place of birth: Phoenix, Arizona
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight: 204 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school: McClintock (AZ)
College: Oregon
NFL Draft: 1997 / Round: 3 / Pick: 94
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 22
Interceptions: 1
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR
Player stats at

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.

Early years[edit]

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 University Athletics Hall of Fame.

Professional career[edit]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Wheaton was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round (94th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft. His rookie season was a difficult one, a separated shoulder he suffered in a scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders,[1] 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.[2] 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 list on November 16.[3] The injury would turn to be career threatening and the Cowboys didn't renew his contract at the end of the year.[4]

Detroit Fury (AFL)[edit]

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).[5] He was traded to the Colorado Crush during the offseason, only to be cut by the team in training camp.

Toronto Argonauts (CFL)[edit]

In 2003, Wheaton signed with the Toronto Argonauts and was their starting defensive half back.

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). He 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. He was released on January 9, 2009.[6]

Personal life[edit]

His 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.[7] The Arizona Junior High School Basketball Tournament honors his memory with the Derrek Wheaton MVP Award.[8]

Wheaton's cousin, Markus Wheaton, played for Oregon State University and the Pittsburgh Steelers. His other cousin Marquese Wheaton played for the University of Southern Mississippi, and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Buccaneers for the 2012 training camp.[9]


  1. ^ "Cowboys get four injured in scrimmage". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Dream keeps Wheaton going". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Cowboys Aikman to sit vs. Cardinals". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Wheaton in waiting game". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Arena League stats". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  6. ^ "The Toronto Argonauts Football Club has released #30 DS Kenny Wheaton". 
  7. ^ "Athlete dies from shooting". The Daily Courier. November 21, 1997. Retrieved November 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Junior Hoops Arizona". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  9. ^ "No surprises as Bucs reach 75-man roster limit". Retrieved February 19, 2016. 

External links[edit]