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James Chadwick "Chad" Pennington (born June 26, 1976 in Knoxville, Tennesseemarker) is an American football quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round, as the eighteenth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

He played college football at Marshall. Pennington has won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award twice, in 2006 and 2008. In 2008, he finished second in MVP voting to Peyton Manning. Pennington is also currently the NFL's all-time leader in career completion percentage with a 66.1%.

Early years

Pennington's father, Elwood, was a physical education teacher and football coach; his mother, Denise, is also a teacher. Pennington's first sport was basketball, which he began playing in the third grade. He began playing football in his freshmen year in highschool. His parents decided to have him repeat the eighth grade when he was enrolled at the Webb School of Knoxvillemarker due to the school's intense academic program. Pennington played both basketball and football at Webb but knew he had a better chance at getting into college via football.

He also pitched; his Little League Ohiomarker team won the Central division, but lost in the first round of the 1991 Little League World Series to Staten Islandmarker, led by Jason Marquis, as Pennington gave up twelve hits (three to Marquis), and Marquis pitched a shutout.

He was only recruited by two colleges, Middle Tennessee State Universitymarker and the University of Tennessee at Chattanoogamarker, both Division 1-AA schools. In 1995, he went to a training camp at Marshall Universitymarker, his parents' alma mater, where he was noticed by head football coach Jim Donnan and offered a scholarship.

College career

Originally the Thundering Herd's fourth-string quarterback in 1995 (and slated to be redshirted), Pennington led Marshall to the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship game, in which Marshall lost to Montana, 22-20. The following year, Pennington was redshirted in favor of Eric Kresser, a transfer from the University of Florida who guided the Herd's return to the 1-AA Championship game in 1996. Pennington returned to play in 1997 as Marshall moved from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A football. His senior year (1999) featured Marshall having an undefeated and untied record (13-0) as Pennington led the team to its third consecutive Mid-American Conference championship.

Pennington set school records in several passing categories. Randy Moss, now with the New England Patriots, was Pennington's top receiver at Marshall. He finished fifth in Heisman voting in 1999. Pennington was selected by the New York Jets in the first round and was the eighteenth (18th) overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. Pennington finished his career at Marshall with 1,026 of 1,619 completions for 13,423 yards and 115 touchdowns, with only 45 interceptions.

He led Marshall to the school's first bowl victory in a 48-29 routing of Louisville in the 1998 Motor City Bowl. Pennington was the bowl game's MVP. Pennington and Marshall returned to Pontiac, Michiganmarker, the following year taking a 21-3 victory over Brigham Young, capping Pennington's undefeated senior season which earned Pennington the nickname "The Golden Boy."

In addition to his success on the football field, Pennington excelled academically, graduating with a degree in journalism, a 3.83 grade point average and becoming a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. He wrote frequently for Marshall's newspaper The Parthenon and was a broadcaster for the school's radio station, although he used a pseudonym on air so as not to be distracting.

Professional career

New York Jets


After making only three appearances during his first two seasons, Chad emerged as the Jets' starting quarterback after filling in for Vinny Testaverde, during the fifth game of the 2002 season. Pennington helped reverse the Jets' fortunes by leading the 1-4 team to an eventual 9-7 record and an AFC East division championship. Despite playing less than a full season, Pennington managed to throw for 3,120 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, with his 104.2 quarterback rating during the 2002 season setting a team record. Pennington led the Jets to a first round 41-0 decision over the Indianapolis Colts in that season's playoffs.

After their 2002 performance, Pennington and the Jets were given lofty expectations entering the 2003 pre-season; however, in the fourth pre-season game against the New York Giants, Pennington endured a fracture-dislocation on his left (non-throwing) hand after suffering a hit from linebacker Brandon Short. The injury forced him to miss the first six games of the season. Without Pennington, the Jets began the season 1-4. Despite his return, the Jets were only able to win five more games to finish 6-10.


Prior to the 2004 season, the Jets signed Pennington to a team-record contract for seven years and $64.2 million, which seemed to pay immediate dividends, as Pennington was able to lead the Jets to a 5-0 record. However, during a Week 9 game against the Buffalo Bills, Pennington injured his rotator cuff and was forced to miss three games. Second string QB Quincy Carter was 2-1 in Pennington's absence. After returning to action with a rout of the Houston Texans, Pennington struggled the rest of the season and there was speculation that Pennington's shoulder was not fully healed. Even after a scuffle with the New York media and losses to New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams, the Jets managed to earn a wild card berth with a 10-6 record. Pennington then led Jets to a first-round, 20-17 overtime win against the AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers, as he went 23-33, for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Pennington then faced the 15-1 Steelers at Pittsburgh. Despite the Jets' offensive struggles and facing a 10-0 deficit, the Jets defense and special teams rallied to score 17 unanswered points. However, Pennington and the Jets would see their season end with kicker Doug Brien missing two potential game-winning field goals. The Steelers would go on to win in overtime, the third overtime in a row for the Jets.


Pennington underwent surgery on his right shoulder in Birmingham, Alabamamarker on February 4, 2005. It was later revealed that he had suffered a substantial tear in the right rotator cuff, as well as a large bone spur on that shoulder. A dismal performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in September and a lackluster one against the Miami Dolphins the following week led to speculation that the shoulder had yet to fully heal, but both Pennington and Jets coach Herman Edwards denied this, citing a lack of pre-season practice and Pennington's less-than-full grasp of new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's plays. On September 25, 2005, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pennington once again suffered injury, although he re-entered the game later and almost led the Jets to victory despite not throwing well. However, tests later showed another tear in his rotator cuff.

On October 6, 2005, Pennington once again underwent surgery to repair his right shoulder. Pennington and the Jets expected that with more rehabilitation time than his first surgery, he should be able to have better strength and control with his throws entering the 2006 season. In the midst of the eventually-resolved labor talks of February-March 2006, Pennington restructured his contract with the New York Jets, ensuring that he remained with the team for at least the 2006 season. Pennington was reported to have taken a significant cut in pay, with the amounts lost recoverable by way of achievable incentives; however, the Jets organization does not comment on contractual issues.


Chad Pennington on the sideline during a November 26, 2006 home game
The 2006 season was a year of inspiration for Chad Pennington, as he came back from his second rotator cuff surgery to lead the Jets to the playoffs and win the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Entering the 2006 season, Pennington trained with new throwing coaches, and worked significantly on the strength of his torso and throwing mechanics. During training camp, new head coach Eric Mangini told players and the press that the quarterback position was still uncertain, and that all four Jets quarterbacks (Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger, and Kellen Clemens) had a chance to be the starter. Also, the Jets medical staff had continued to limit Pennington's play, placing him on a limited number of throws to ensure the safety of his shoulder.

Pennington won the Jets pre-season quarterback competition, and started the 2006 season in apparent pre-injury form. For the first time in his career, Pennington posted back-to-back 300 yard passing games in the first two weeks of the season. Pennington's Week One performance against Tennessee earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. In Week 15 in Minnesota, Pennington passed for a career high 339 yards.

Pennington would go on to reach career highs for the season in completions, passing attempts, and passing yardage with 3,352 yards, starting all sixteen games for the first time.

Although his lack of superb arm strength was often criticized, Pennington's abilities fit well into the new offense instituted by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Using a short passing game and taking advantage of the "yards after catch" ability of wide receivers Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, and running back Leon Washington, Pennington led the Jets to a 10–6 record and a playoff berth as a wild card team, after a 4-12 mark in 2005.

The Jets took on the Patriots in their lone playoff game. The Jets lost 37–16, with Pennington passing for 300 yards and a touchdown. Pennington's second quarter 77-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery stands as the longest pass in Jets postseason history. With the start, Pennington also became the Jets' all-time leader in postseason starts by a quarterback with five.

For his stellar season, Pennington was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year Award, just one year after tearing his rotator cuff. He received 27 of the 50 votes cast, finishing far ahead of the 8.5 votes received by second-place finisher Drew Brees.


The 2007 season was a tumultuous one for Pennington. In the first game of the season, against the Patriots, Pennington suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out of game two. In the third game, against the Miami Dolphins, he led the Jets to a 31-28 victory, throwing two touchdowns and running for a third. After a 17–14 loss to the Bills in Week 4, he threw three interceptions against the Giants in Week 5, giving him five interceptions in two games. Two weeks later, he threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals. After leading the Jets to a dismal 1–7 start, coach Eric Mangini decided to bench Pennington for second year quarterback Kellen Clemens. But, during the Week 15 game against the New England Patriots, Kellen Clemens left the game after the second play with a rib injury and Pennington returned to the game. Pennington went 25-38 for 184 yards. He also threw for more yards and fewer interceptions than opposing quarterback Tom Brady, who, not only was on his way to an MVP season, but that day was 14-27 for 140 yards with one interception. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown that day. Pennington would start the next week at Tennessee, where the Jets wound up losing 6–10. Clemens replaced Pennington for the final game of the season against the Chiefs. Pennington finished the '07 season with 10 TD's and 9 INTS with a passer rating of 86.1, and 1,765 yards.

Eric Mangini announced that upon entering training camp of 2008 that there would be a competition for the starting quarterback position between Pennington and Clemens. On August 7, 2008, the Jets acquired veteran and former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, leading to Pennington's release later that day.

Miami Dolphins


Upon his release from the Jets, it was reported that at least six teams were interested in Pennington. However, only the Minnesota Vikings and the Miami Dolphins were considered as serious contenders. On August 8, Pennington signed a two-year, $11.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano said that Pennington would have to compete for the starting job. He was later announced as the starting quarterback as the Dolphins moved into the regular season. Chad finished the 2008 NFL regular season with 321 completions for 476 Attempts, with 3653 yards, nineteen touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He finished the season with a passer rating of 97.4, started all sixteen games for the Dolphins and helped to lead them to an 11-5 record and the third seed in the playoffs with an AFC East Championship. The Dolphins went on to lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs, 27-9. He is the first Dolphins quarterback since Hall of Famer Dan Marino to throw for 3,500 yards. For his role in the Dolphins' ten-win turnaround, Pennington received notable MVP consideration from several major media outlets. He received four votes, and finished second to Peyton Manning for the 2008 AP NFL MVP.

At the completion of the regular season, Pennington was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year Award, an award which he also won in 2006..


Pennington was the starter for the Miami Dolphins 2009 season, with Pat White as the second string, and Chad Henne as the third string. On September 27, 2009 against the San Diego Chargers, during the 3rd quarter Pennington injured the same shoulder on which he had two previous surgeries. Chad Henne served as his replacement in the 23-13 loss.

On September 28th, Pennington went in for an MRI amidst speculation of a season ending injury. On September 29th, 2009 it was announced that initial results show a torn Shoulder capsule in his throwing shoulder. He will be seeking a second opinion, however he was officially placed on the IR, and the Dolphins acquired Tyler Thigpen from the Kansas City Chiefs for an undisclosed 2010 draft pick.


Pennington married his college girlfriend, Robin Hampton, on March 1, 2001. He famously brought his Jets playbook on his honeymoon.

1st and 10 Foundation

Chad and Robin Pennington created the 1st and 10 Foundation in 2003 with the mission to build stronger communities by funding programs and institutions that seek to improve quality of life throughout West Virginiamarker, Tennesseemarker and the New Yorkmarker Metropolitan area. Since its inception in 2003 the foundation has given gifts of over half a million dollars to various organizations.


  2. Marshall Record Book
  3. [ Chad Pennington’s 1st and 10 Foundation

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