Mark Stepnoski
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Mark Stepnoski

Mark Stepnoski
No. 53
Position:Center
Personal information
Born: (1967-01-20) January 20, 1967 (age 52)
Erie, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
High school:Erie (PA) Cathedral
College:Pittsburgh
NFL Draft:1989 / Round: 3 / Pick: 57
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games Played:194
Games Started:162
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Mark Matthew Stepnoski (born January 20, 1967) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League. He attended Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, Pennsylvania, and went on to star at the University of Pittsburgh. He played 13 seasons in the NFL, with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989 to 1994, with the Houston Oilers from 1995 to 1998, and back to the Cowboys for three more seasons. Stepnoski won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys and was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1992 to 1996.

Early years

Stepnoski, was a highly recruited All-State and Parade All-American offensive tackle from Erie Cathedral Preparatory School. He graduated from the school in 1985.

He signed with the University of Pittsburgh and became a four-year starter at offensive guard, helping clear the way for Craig Heyward and Curvin Richards to become two of the leading rushers in the nation.

Stepnoski was a third team All-American as a sophomore, a first team All-American in 1988 and one of the three finalists for the Outland Trophy as a senior. He was a two-time Academic All-American (1986 and 1988). Played in the East-West Shrine Game.

His play earned him a spot on his home state's All Century Second Team, compiled by the Pennsylvania Football News.

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys (first stint)

Stepnoski was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He dropped in the draft because the scouts thought he was undersized for the National Football League.[]

The Cowboys switched him to center, although he had never played that position. During his rookie year he was tutored by Tom Rafferty, who was playing his last season in the NFL. He became a starter for the last four games of the season. Stepnoski used his athletic ability, leverage and balance to outmaneuver bigger defensive players and become one of the league's best centers of his era. By the end of the 1991 season he was selected to the first of five straight Pro Bowls.[2] From 1992 to 1994, together with Erik Williams, Mark Tuinei, Nate Newton and Kevin Gogan, he was part of some of the best offensive lines to play in NFL history,[] that also helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. In 1993, he suffered a knee injury that required surgery while playing against the Minnesota Vikings in the 13th game of the season. He was replaced by John Gesek and couldn't play during the playoffs and Super Bowl XXVIII. He became a free agent at the end of the season, but the Cowboys could only sign him to a one-year contract ($1.2 million and a $500,000 signing bonus).

Stepnoski was one of the team's first big-name players to leave the Cowboys following the 1994 season via unrestricted free agency, leaving with three Pro Bowls and back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

Houston / Tennessee Oilers

Stepnoski signed with the Houston Oilers in 1995. During his first two seasons with the Oilers he increased his streak of Pro Bowl selections to five. Stepnoski played two more seasons with the team upon their relocation to Nashville.

Dallas Cowboys (second stint)

The Cowboys signed Stepnoski as a free agent in 1999, where he finished his career with three more years, retiring after the 2001 season.

Career achievements

Stepnoski played 13 seasons in the National Football League, which included five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (1992-1996) and a place on the National Football League 1990s All-Decade second team.[3] He won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys (XXVII and XXVIII) and was a nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2007.[4]

Personal life

Stepnoski is an advocate for the legalization of cannabis. He has been a supporting member of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) since his days playing football and also a longtime member of its national advisory board.[5][6] In the early 2000s he served as president of the Texas chapter of NORML.[7] Stepnoski's support for cannabis reform led his high school alma mater, Cathedral Preparatory School, to rescind his induction into the school's athletic hall of fame.[8]

In November 2007, Stepnoski expressed support for the 9/11 Truth Movement.[8]

References

  1. ^ "The Pennsylvania Football News All-Century Teams". pafootballnews.com. Archived from the original on February 18, 2006. Retrieved 2008.
  2. ^ Eatman, Nick (July 3, 2012). "The 53: Stepnoski To Anchor The Middle". dallascowboys.com. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ "Mark Stepnoski". Erie Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "Preliminary nominees for Class of 07". profootballhof.com. October 27, 2006. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ McKenna, Dave (November 21, 2003). "The Grass Is Sometimes Greener". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Mark Stepnoski". NORML. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Donald, Mark (October 31, 2002). "Steppin' Out". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ a b Dudley, John (November 4, 2007). "Q&A with Mark Stepnoski". Erie Times-News. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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