January 20, 1967|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||265 lb (120 kg)|
|High school:||Erie (PA) Cathedral|
|NFL Draft:||1989 / Round: 3 / Pick: 57|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Mark Matthew Stepnoski (born January 20, 1967) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League. He attended Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, Pennsylvania, and went on to star at the University of Pittsburgh. Stepnoski's professional career in the NFL was spent with the Dallas Cowboys (1989–1994 and 1999–2000) and the Houston Oilers (1995–1998). Stepnoski won two Super Bowls while with the Cowboys, both of them against the Buffalo Bills and he was a five-time Pro Bowler, attending the game from 1992 through 1996.
He signed with the University of Pittsburgh and became a four-year starter at offensive guard, helping clear the way for Craig Heyward and Curvin Richards to become two of the leading rushers in the nation.
Stepnoski was a third team All-America as a sophomore, a first team All-American in 1988 and one of the three finalists for the Outland Trophy as a senior. He was a two-time Academic All-American (1986 and 1988). Played in the East–West Shrine Game.
His play earned him a spot on his home state's All Century Second Team, compiled by the Pennsylvania Football News.
Dallas Cowboys (first stint)
Stepnoski was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He dropped in the draft because the scouts thought he was undersized for the National Football League.
The Cowboys switched him to center, although he had never played that position. During his rookie year he was tutored by Tom Rafferty, who was playing his last season in the NFL. He became a starter for the last four games of the season. Stepnoski used his athletic ability, leverage and balance to outmaneuver bigger defensive players and become one of the league's best centers of his era. By the end of the 1991 season he was selected to the first of five straight Pro Bowls. From 1992 to 1994, together with Erik Williams, Mark Tuinei, Nate Newton and Kevin Gogan, he was part of some of the best offensive lines to play in NFL history, that also helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. In 1993, he suffered a knee injury that required surgery while playing against the Minnesota Vikings in the 13th game of the season. He was replaced by John Gesek and couldn't play during the playoffs and Super Bowl XXVIII. He became a free agent at the end of the season, but the Cowboys could only sign him to a one-year contract ($1.2 million and a $500,000 signing bonus).
Dallas Cowboys (second stint)
Stepnoski played 13 years in the National Football League, including five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and a place on the National Football League 1990s All-Decade second team.
Stepnoski is also a marijuana legalization advocate and is an active member of NORML. His position on this subject made his high school alma mater, Cathedral Preparatory School, rescind his nomination to the school's athletic hall of fame. For that same reason, he immigrated to Canada.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 18, 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- Dudley, John (2007-11-04). "Q&A with Mark Stepnoski". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
- Armentano, Paul (March 10, 2003). "Lineman for Liberty". Reason. Archived from the original on October 24, 2006. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
- "'A Football Life: The Great Wall of Dallas'- Where are they now?". NFL.com. Retrieved April 23, 2016.