Chad Pennington was once one of the most promising young names in the NFL thanks to his ability to run an offense and show up when it mattered. His post-NFL life is something that you wouldn’t ever expect, however. After seeing the highs and lows of being both a college and professional football player. Pennington has found a way to stay in the game in some ways while also finding some surprising hobbies in the process.
Chad Pennington’s college career
Chad Pennington took a couple of years to break out at the college level. After a solid but unspectacular college career, Pennington impressed Marshall coaches and recruits enough at a summer football camp to get him to the school.
There, he started as the fourth-string quarterback. While not the Division I-A school that many college hopefuls desire, a player who did not see a collegiate football future ahead of him was more than pleased.
Pennington joined a growing Marshall program that still had not fully recovered from the tragic plane crash that took the entire team’s lives 25 years earlier. A series of injuries meant that the school had to call upon their unproven bench quarterback, and Pennington didn’t disappoint. Marshall would make it to the I-AA final, where they lost.
That success was short-lived, however, as Pennington would be demoted and red-shirted as a sophomore. In 1997, Pennington was back, and he did not waste any time to making a name for himself with a little help from a teammate named Randy Moss.
He erupted for a 42-touchdown season against only 12 interceptions on over 3,800 throwing yards. By 1999, he was fifth in Heisman voting and good enough to be a first-round pick in the NFL.
Chad Pennington’s professional career
Chad Pennington was selected 18th overall in the 2000 draft, but it would take a while for him to make it into the rotation. After playing sporadically over his first two seasons, Pennington finally got his chance to shine in 2002, when he took over for Vinny Testaverde and turned the 1-4 Jets into a 9-7 team.
This, combined with a playoff run put lofty expectations onto Pennington and the Jets. Unfortunately, a preseason injury caused him to miss the first five games.
In many ways, this would define Pennington’s career. He’d have a good nearly-full season followed by an injury-riddled season or another setback. He would win Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 after playing in only three games the previous season. He led the Jets to a 10-6 record, throwing 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions to go with 3,352 yards.
2007 would be another tumultuous year for Pennington, who would leave for Miami the following year. After a successful first season with the Dolphins in which he’d lead the team to an 11-5 record, Pennington would play only four more games over two years before retiring. Pennington finished his career with 17,823 throwing yards, 102 touchdowns, and 64 interceptions.
What he’s up to today
While many former football players get into the business of producing a lot of bull on television, Chad Pennington did so in a different way. According to a 2010 article from Andy Kent of ESPN, Pennington founded a breeding stable in Overbrook, Oklahoma and eventually began to work with the PBR to get his Bulls into the spotlight.
It is not the first place that people would expect to find a former NFL player, but it doesn’t mean he forgot about the sport where he made his name.
Pennington has also kept his name in football in the years since his retirement, coaching youth programs. Over these past two seasons, however, Pennington has been the head coach at Sayre School’s football program in Kentucky.
Sayre is a small school, and one might not expect to find a former NFL player on its sideline, but Pennington has proven throughout his life that he is never going to take the normal path to anything.