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Kenny Wheaton

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No. 30
Position: Cornerback / Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1975-03-08) March 8, 1975 (age 41)
Place of birth: Phoenix, Arizona
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Career information
High school: McClintock (AZ)
College: Oregon
NFL draft: 1997 / Round: 3 / Pick: 94
Career history
*Inactive and/or offseason member only
Career highlights and awards
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Games played: 22
Interceptions: 1
Stats at
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

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 Hall of Fame.

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

Wheaton was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round 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 on November 17, 1998. The injury would turned to be career threatening and the Cowboys didn't renew his contract at the end of the year.[3]

Detroit Fury (AFL)

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

Toronto Argonauts

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). Wheaton 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. On January 9, 2009, he was released.[5]

Personal life

Wheaton's 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.[6] The Arizona Junior High School Basketball Tournament honors Derrek's memory with the Derrek Wheaton MVP Award.[7]

His cousin Andre Bailey also played football at McClintock High School and went on to play college football at Mesa Community College before attending the University of Texas El Paso.[8]

Wheaton's younger cousins Marquese Wheaton played for University of Southern Mississippi, became a free agent and was picked up by Tampa Buccaneers for the 2012 NFL Season. Marquese's younger brother Markus Wheaton played for Oregon State University and the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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