Obit of the Day: All-Pro Punter
In 1979 and 1980 the New York Giants had one All-Pro*. It was their punter Dave Jennings. Although that’s great news for Mr. Jennings, it was bad news for the Giants.
Mr. Jennings was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 1974. He played his college football at St. Lawrence University where he walked on as punter and more significantly, never played any football in high school.
During Mr. Jennings first seven seasons with the Giants the team never won more than six games. It was during this time that he set the Giants single season record for punts (104)^. (For those unfamiliar with football, the more you punt, the worse your offense is.) He was not only named to two All-Pro teams but also selected to four Pro Bowl teams (1978, 1979, 1980, 1982).
The most prolific punter in Giants’ history Mr. Jennings had 931 career punts and nearly 39,000 punting yards. He had over 4,000 punting yards for three different seasons (1979-1981) and averaged 44.8 yards per punt in 1980.
After his eleven seasons with the Giants, Mr. Jennings simply changed from blue to green and punted for the New York Jets for three seasons.
After he retired following the 1987 season, Mr Jennings headed to the broadcast booth for both of his professional alma maters. From 1988 until 2002 he was in the Jets’ radio booth offering color analysis. He then joined the Giants’ broadcast team from 2002 until he left the booth in 2007.
Mr. Jennings, who passed away on June 19, 2013 at the age of 61 (just eleven days after his birthday), died from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.
(Image of Dave Jennings punting the ball, October 24, 1976 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Copyright Walter Iooss, Jr./Sports Illustrated)
* The best player at a given position in any season.
^ Brad Maynard broke Mr. Jennings’ record in 1997, punting 111 times. Oddly enough the Giants were 10-5-1 that season.