Joe Paterno's Most Famous NFL Players to Come Out of Penn State
The list of former Penn State players to reach the NFL is extensive, and the school's list of All-Americans even more so. As we all know, a successful career in the college ranks doesn't guarantee professional prominence on Sundays, but many who cut their teeth on big-time football in State College managed to do just that, and I've included a list of them here. Coincidentally, they're all products of Joe Paterno, the only football coach Penn State had for the last 45 seasons. Until late last night.
This isn't necessarily a list of the best NFL players to come out of Happy Valley, but it is a list of former Nittany Lions who managed to carve out some sort of notoriety for themselves on Sundays. You might be surprised by who we left out. Of the five PSU alums enshrined in Canton, we only included three.
Feel free to make an argument for anyone we might have unfairly excluded in the comments.
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Harris (left) was the author of the Steelers' "Immaculate Reception," the famous broken play in 1972 that sent Pittsburgh to their first-ever Super Bowl. Harris' club would win that Super Bowl (and three others) en route to becoming the "Team Of The Decade."
The running back claimed Pro Bowl honors nine times. He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1990.
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Matt Bahr was named a consensus All-American kicker in 1978. He was playing pro soccer in America before being drafted by the Steelers in 1979.
Bahr's moment of glory came in 1991 as a member of the New York Giants. Matt went 5-for-5 in field goal kicking in the NFC Championship game, propelling the Giants into Super Bowl XXV, where they would face the Buffalo Bills and their placekicker, Scott Norwood.
Bahr played his last NFL game in 1995 with the New England Patriots and retired with 1,422 career points.
Matt's brother, Chris, also attended Penn State and earned All-American honors in both soccer (1972, 1973, 1974) and football (1975). Chris spent 14 years in the NFL with three different teams.
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Munchak could be described as a company guy. As a young offensive lineman coming out of Penn State in 1982, he was drafted by the Houston Oilers and has never left the organization.
Mike played 12 years with the Oilers and was named to the Pro Bowl nine times. He stayed with the organization after retirement to coach the offensive line. He even followed the team to Tennessee, where they were re-branded as the Titans in 1999. When Jeff Fisher was dismissed as head coach in this last offseason, Munchak got the call.
Mike was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2001.
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The 1994 Heisman runner-up is famous for all the wrong reasons, having been one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory.
The Cincinnati Bengals took the running back with their first-overall pick in 1995. In his first-ever preseason game, Carter blew out his ACL, an injury which lingered throughout his 10-year career.
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Millen (left) sports a curious work history of his own. After a distinguished 12-year career in the NFL as a linebacker, Millen went into broadcasting and earned high marks as an analyst.
But in 2001, the four-time Super Bowl winner was named general manager of the Detroit Lions, and the underperforming team virtually flatlined under his leadership. The latter half of his tenure there was marred by "Fire Millen" campaigns that persisted until his firing in 2008.
Millen returned to TV thereafter and currently works as a studio analyst for ESPN.
The only Heisman Trophy winner that Penn State ever produced had a journeyman's NFL career. Cappelletti spent 10 years in the league with the Chargers and Rams before retiring in 1983.
Grier (76) was a renown defensive lineman with the Rams as part of that "Fearsome Foursome" front for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s. He spent 12 seasons in the NFL in total.
Grier also carved out a niche for himself as an entertainer, appearing in various movies and television shows, and even recorded a single that made the pop charts in 1968. But Grier's weirdest attribute has to be his affectation for needlepoint, a pastime that's as opposite from pro football as one could fathom.
Ham anchored the famed "Steel Curtain" along with fellow interior linebacker Jack Lambert. He played 12 years in the league—all with Pittsburghbefore being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1988.
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Arrington represents the newer embodiment of "Linebacker U.", having earned two-time All-American honors in 1998 and 1999. He played six years with the Redskins and a seventh with the Giants, reaching three Pro Bowls. He currently works as a sports talk radio host in the Washington D.C. area.
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Collins won the Davey O'Brien award with Penn State, judged to be college football's top quarterback in 1994. But his NFL career was (is, technically) less prestigious.
Collins spent 17 seasons with five different teams in a career marred by alcoholism and racial intolerance. In July, Collins announced his retirement, only to change his mind when the Colts were looking for an experienced player to back up Peyton Manning. Collins struggled when called into action, and eventually suffered a concussion. He will finish his 18th, and almost certainly last, NFL season, on injured reserve.
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The 20th-overall pick from 2006 is currently anchoring the Chiefs linebacking corps. He finished second in the NFL with 15 sacks in 2010.
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The linebacker known to his teammates as "Poz" was the 34th-overall selection by the Buffalo Bills in the 2007 NFL draft. He signed a lucrative contract in the offseason with the Jaguars, which will pocket him $42 million over six seasons.