April 17, 1961 |
West Islip, New York
|Height:||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight:||220 lb (100 kg)|
|High school:||East Islip (NY)|
|NFL Draft:||1984 / Round: 2 / Pick: 38|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Norman Julius "Boomer" Esiason (//; born April 17, 1961) is a retired American football quarterback and current network color commentator. During a 14-year career in the National Football League (NFL), Esiason played for the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals. Since retiring, he has worked as a football analyst, first for ABC and HBO, and currently for CBS Sports on The NFL Today, Westwood One for Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl, and Showtime's Inside the NFL. Esiason also hosts the morning sports radio program Boomer and Gio on WFAN (AM) in New York.
Esiason was born and raised in East Islip, New York. He attended Timber Point Elementary and East Islip High School, where he graduated in 1979. In high school, he was a three-sport varsity player in football, basketball, and baseball. Esiason got the "Boomer" nickname before he was born. His mother, reacting to his constant kicking in the womb, called him "Boomer," and he has kept the name since.
Esiason played college football at the University of Maryland for head coaches Jerry Claiborne and Bobby Ross and offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen. At Maryland, he set 17 school records. Esiason completed 461 of 850 passes (54.2 percent) for 6,169 yards and 42 touchdowns with 27 interceptions. He was a two-time honorable mention All-American in 1982 and 1983. In his final home game, he threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to lead a comeback victory over No. 3 North Carolina and seal the ACC title. Esiason graduated with a B.A. in 1984 and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999.
Following his final year at Maryland, Esiason was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft with the 38th overall pick, surprisingly low considering his successful college career. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was, in Esiason's words, "going ballistic" that he was still available in the latter stages of the first round. No quarterbacks were drafted in the first round; Esiason was actually the first one selected since Steve Young signed with the L.A. Express of the USFL. His USFL territorial rights were controlled by the Washington Federals franchise of the now-defunct United States Football League.
At his retirement in 1997 he was among the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history, finishing in the top 10 in many statistical categories. Boomer got his first pro start on October 7, 1984, in Cincinnati in a game against the Houston Oilers. On a rainy day, Boomer led the Bengals to a 13–3 win over Houston and scored the game's only touchdown on a three-yard run. Boomer took over for Ken Anderson as the Bengals' full-time starting quarterback on September 22, 1985, in a game in Cincinnati against the San Diego Chargers. He could not repeat the victory of his first career start, as the Bengals fell to the Chargers and eventual Hall of Famer Dan Fouts 44–41. At 6'-5" and 224 pounds (three inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than his predecessor), and with a powerful arm, Esiason was the signal caller on one of the most potent offenses of the late 1980s and, though well short of Ken Anderson's rushing total of over 2,200 yards, he was surprisingly mobile, rushing for 1,598 yards on 447 attempts and scoring seven touchdowns in his career. He was particularly adept at running the difficult "no huddle" offense devised by Bengal Head Coach Sam Wyche. A little over three years later, Esiason led the Cincinnati Bengals to their second appearance in the Super Bowl, where they again lost another close game to the San Francisco 49ers. In Super Bowl XXIII, the 49ers, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, marched 92 yards on their last drive and won the game on a touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining in the game. A last-ditch pass to wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was broken up, leading to a 20–16 loss for the Bengals. Esiason won the 1988 NFL MVP award and was named to the Pro Bowl, but didn't play in the Pro Bowl due to a shoulder injury he suffered late in the regular season.
Esiason was traded to his hometown New York Jets for a third round pick in 1993 (which became linebacker Steve Tovar), subsequently guiding their offense until the end of 1995 under three different head coaches, Bruce Coslet, Pete Carroll, and Rich Kotite. During his 1995 season with the Jets, he was seriously injured in a game played on October 8 against the Buffalo Bills when rookie Everett McIver was whistled for a false start and Bruce Smith of the Bills raced around him and caught Esiason under his face mask. Smith was terribly upset about Esiason's injury and said he never heard a whistle blowing the play dead for false start. That horrific collision gave Esiason a severe concussion, which kept him out until November 19. He is thought to have been the first NFL player to enter a concussion study during the season. When he returned to the field it was coincidentally in a game that was played against the Bills.
After being released by the Jets, Esiason signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent in 1996. It was during this season, on November 10, 1996, that Esiason threw for the fourth best passing yardage day in NFL history, with 522 yards in a 37–34 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Esiason contemplated retirement in the off-season, but was talked into playing one more season with the Bengals. Esiason was surprisingly effective after replacing Jeff Blake midway through the 1997 season, throwing for 13 touchdowns and with only two interceptions and garnering a passer rating of over 106 for the season. The Bengals were 3–8 with Blake under center. With Esiason at quarterback, they won four of their last five games and scored over 30 points four times – twice they broke 40 points, in a 44–42 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and a 41–14 rout of the Tennessee Oilers. The Bengals wanted Esiason to come back for two more years.
Boomer Esiason was named to four Pro Bowl games (1986, 1988, 1989, 1993) and holds several NFL career records for left-handed quarterbacks, including most touchdown passes (247), passing yards (37,920), and completions (2,969). Esiason also led the AFC in passing in both 1988 and 1989.
Among the awards Boomer Esiason has earned during his career include the NFL Most Valuable Player Award in 1988 (leading the league with a quarterback rating of 97.4), and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1995 for his charitable work. At his retirement in 1997 Esiason finished in the top 10 all-time in many QB career statistical categories. In addition, he is the only quarterback to hold a franchise records in single game passing yards with two different teams, having thrown for 522 yards with the Arizona Cardinals on November 10, 1996 and 490 yards for the Cincinnati Bengals on October 7, 1990.
Football Nation ranks Esiason as the 25th greatest quarterback of the post-merger era.
While still playing, Esiason appeared as a color analyst on the USA Network's two-year broadcast of the World League of American Football (WLAF) on Monday nights, partnered with Brad Nessler. Esiason has appeared in over 25 commercials including ones for Diet Coke, Wheaties, Reebok, Samsung, Hanes, Doritos and Domino's Pizza. He has also appeared in many TV shows and movies, such as The Game Plan, Miss America 1999, Spin City, and Blue Bloods among others. After his retirement, Boomer Esiason went into broadcasting full-time. He was a color commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football from 1998 to 2000. Following his dismissal by ABC (due primarily to personal conflicts between him and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels), Esiason was hired by the Westwood One/Dial Global radio network to become the lead analyst for radio broadcasts of Monday Night Football and Super Bowl games. Esiason has broadcast every Super Bowl since SB XXXIV (34) in 2000. Esiason also currently serves as an in-studio analyst for The NFL Today on CBS television, Inside the NFL on Showtime, and hosts Boomer and Gio on WFAN (AM) Radio in New York and the CBS Sports Network. In September 2012, CBS Radio announced Esiason was added to their collection of talent to deliver five sports updates per day Monday-Friday. On March 8, 2013, both Esiason and Carton worked the radio broadcast of a Brooklyn Nets basketball game.
Starting in 2013, Esiason began appearing once a week as a guest on The Jim Rome Show during the NFL season to break down the upcoming weekend's NFL action. He has delighted the show's listeners by occasionally making references to some of the show's more infamous moments, much to Rome's chagrin. Although Boomer and many other NFL players promote their own favorite "causes" through their celebrity status and media attention, Esiason has also stated on CBSTV and other various media outlets that Colin Kaepernick should not disrespect the National Anthem while in uniform and in an NFL stadium. He would not want Kaepernick on his team. He has also stated on numerous occasions that Kaepernick should speak for himself and not let others speak for him.
In April 2007, after the firing of Don Imus, CBS Radio gave Boomer a one-week "try-out" as Imus's replacement on WFAN. The station announced Esiason as the permanent host on August 13, with radio veteran Craig Carton joining as co-host. Boomer and Carton officially started on September 4, 2007. On September 6, Esiason pulled double duty: he worked the morning show on WFAN, then flew to Indianapolis to cover the Indianapolis Colts opening the 2007 NFL season against the New Orleans Saints on Westwood One with Marv Albert, then returned to do the morning show the next day. However, both Carton and Albert mocked how tired he was, including jokes about Esiason's intake of 5-hour Energy. Still an analyst on Westwood One, Esiason often travels to Monday Night Football games on Monday and still is able to make his Tuesday morning call time on WFAN. The Boomer and Carton radio program became the number-one rated morning show in all key demographics in the greater N.Y. listening area and was seen on the CBSN/TV Network from 2010–2013. The radio program has been simulcast on the CBS Sports Network since January 2014. In September 2017, after being arrested and facing charges of operating a concert ticket Ponzi scheme, Carton resigned from WFAN, leaving Esiason as the sole host of the show, which was rebranded The Morning Show with Boomer.
While at a Jets mini-camp in 1993, Esiason was notified that his two-year-old son, Gunnar, had to be taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties. Soon after, Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease of the respiratory and digestive systems. The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) was formed soon afterward to fund research to find a cure for the disease. The Foundation also provides scholarships, transplant grants, hospital grants, education and awareness of cystic fibrosis as to provide higher quality of life for people with CF. The foundation has raised in excess of $100 million as of March 2, 2013, and has supported numerous hospitals, including Cincinnati Children's Hospital with the Gunnar H Esiason CF/Lung Center and Columbia Presbyterian in NYC with the Gunnar H Esiason Adult CF and Lung Program. The foundation has given over $2 million in scholarship grants to CF patients. The foundation is located in New York City and runs numerous events around the country. The Boomer Esiason Foundation annually receives four stars from Charity Navigator.
In 1996, Esiason formed a partnership with Cantor Fitzgerald and Howard Lutnick (CEO) as the foundation offices were moved to the North Tower of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan on the 101st floor. This was destroyed in 2001 in the September 11 attacks. All five full-time employees survived, as none were in the building at the time, but "Esiason figured he knew over 200 people personally" who were killed in the attack, including his best friend Tim O'Brien who was a partner at Cantor.
As of 2017 Gunnar Esiason is now an extremely active 26-year-old graduate of Boston College who undergoes daily treatments and takes cystic fibrosis medications. He was a quarterback for his high school football team at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, NY, and played forward on his ice hockey team for the Manhasset/Roslyn varsity hockey team. Gunnar also writes a popular blog and appears daily in a podcast discussing the issues confronting Cystic Fibrosis patients. Gunnar and his father are teammates on their local hockey team.
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