Column: Some of Eastern’s lesser-known NFL players

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

For the most part, people on campus are aware of some of former Eastern football players who have had successful NFL careers. But for every Tony Romo, Jimmy Garoppolo and Sean Payton, there is another Eastern player who made an impact at the next level.

Their careers are notable for multiple reasons, including Pro Bowl appearances, Super Bowl wins and appearing in the very first season of the NFL. Now that the 2020 season is underway, here are three of Eastern’s lesser-known NFL talents, spanning multiple positions, teams and eras.


Lenny High 

Statistically, Lenny High does not jump off the page. He was born about an hour northwest of Eastern in the village of Bement, Illinois, in 1895.

He only appeared in one game in his career in 1920 during what was the inaugural season of the APFA, which would be renamed the NFL two years later.

High played end for the Decatur Staleys, the franchise that became the Chicago Bears in 1922, and the legendary head coach George Halas.

He may not have become a great player of household name, but High was the first of many Eastern players to reach the professional level.


Ted Petersen

Only three Eastern alums have a Super Bowl ring, and two of them have two rings. One is Garoppolo, who was on two championship teams in New England. The other is offensive lineman Ted Petersen.

Petersen spent eight seasons on the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the 1978 and 1979 seasons in which the Steelers won the Super Bowl.

Splitting his time between guard, tackle and center, Petersen played for Hall-of-Fame head coach Chuck Noll and was teammates with several NFL legends, including Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert and Joe Greene, among others.


Jeff Gossett

Fewer players from Eastern have made a Pro Bowl appearance than have won a Super Bowl. Romo appeared in four Pro Bowls, and punter Jeff Gossett appeared in one following the 1991 season.

Gossett is the only player from Eastern to be named an NFL All-Pro, receiving that honor for the 1991 season as well.

Punters have historically been under appreciated throughout the history of the NFL, but many have a monumental impact on field position each game.

Gossett spent 15 seasons in the NFL, a majority of which came from the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders. He ranks 26th all time in  punts with 982, 67 fewer punts than Ray Guy, the only punter in the NFL Hall of Fame


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]