Jeff Jaeger Could Deliver a Hit As Well As a Field Goal
Jeff Jaeger was the first-team Associated Press All-America kicker when he was a Washington senior, a high honor.
If that wasn't impressive enough, he gained the utmost respect earlier from the Purple Reign defense and guys like co-captain Jimmy Rodgers because he was more than a guy with a kicking tee.
As tradition in the Don James era, the Husky player who came up with the biggest hit in a game received half a helmet placed on a plaque and it went on display in his locker.
Jaeger received two of them.
He leveled an unsuspecting Stanford player. Even better, he knocked an Oregon player off his feet in an ideal location
"I dropped him in front of their bench and their players were screaming, 'You let a kicker do that to you!?' " said Jaeger, still enjoying the moment.
In high school, he played for bad Kent-Meridian teams in the Seattle suburbs and barely got a chance to kick. His team won one game and scored three touchdowns during his senior year, limiting his extra-point tries. He went 3-for-6 on field goals.
Where Jaeger excelled was at defensive end, earning second-team All-North Puget Sound League honors in consecutive seasons.
He walked on as a kicker at Washington and as a freshman he competed against guys such as Mike Zimmerman, Roger Gilbert, Grant Johnston and Gary Webster.
"It was like the Gong Show," Jaeger said, referencing a TV game show.
It was not easy either. James typically positioned himself behind each guy with a stopwatch and timed their kicks, creating a little tension.
"It was 'quick, quick, quick, got to pick it up,' " Jaeger recounted. "He stood behind you and could hear the stop watch. He was a little guy and you were terrified of him."
Jaeger actually punted once in his first game as a freshman for the Huskies, driving one just 26 yards against Northwestern, before settling in that game as the full-time kicker.
Jaeger missed his first field goal, but made two, and he was off and kicking for the next four seasons. He was put on scholarship for his junior and senior seasons.
He made 80 percent of his attempts. He had a long of 52 yards and a longest attempt at 61. He kicked five field goals in a game against Houston.
His most pressure-packed field goal was a 27-yarder at the end of the game to tie UCLA 17-17 in 1986. His crowning moment was breaking the NCAA record for most field goals made in a career with 85.
Jaeger spent a dozen years in the NFL, kicking for the Browns, Raiders and Bears, and made a nice living before retiring in 1999. He had reasonable success, earning a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection in the middle of his career. He works in real estate now.
Two decades later, he has had a hip replacement and probably can't kick anymore. Yet that glint in his eye tells you Jaeger could put down another Duck or Cardinal if he had to.