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Mark Stepnoski

Mark Stepnoski

Single, resides in Houston, Texas. Hobbies include music and reading. Spokesman for Half Priced Books’ “Just Read” program with Cowboys’ Daryl Johnston. Attended Cathedral Prep (PA) High, lettering in football and was member of National Honor Society. Named H.S. Football All-America by USA Today and Parade Magazine as senior. Father, Marty, was teammate of Hall-of-Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff on Erie Tech’s 1960 H.S. football team. Born Mark Matthew Stepnoski, January 20, 1967, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Pro Career After a four year visit to the AFC, Mark Stepnoski returned to his NFL origins and rejoined many of his former teammates in Dallas in 1999. He brought back a very high level of play at his position, and quickly re-established himself as one of the NFC’s premier centers. Throughout his career, Stepnoski has displayed intelligence, outstanding technique and a desire to excel at one of the NFL’s more demanding offensive line positions. He spent his first six NFL seasons with the Cowboys and was a member of two Cowboys Super Bowl championship teams (XXVII, XXVIII). During that time, he started a string of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (three with the Cowboys, 1993-95 and two with the Oilers, 1996-97). He was only the second center in Cowboys, history to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl, and he was the first to make more than one trip to Hawaii. Stepnoski was originally drafted by the Cowboys in the third round (57th overall) in 1989, and he later signed with the Oilers as an unrestricted free agent on March 23, 1995. In seven of his 11 NFL seasons, he has helped a running back crack the top five in NFL rushing yards. He was a member of the Cowboys 1989 draft that provided the cornerstones for the Super Bowl success that made Dallas the team of the decade. That draft produced Troy Aikman (first round), Daryl Johnston (second), Stepnoski (third) and Tony Tolbert (fourth). That quartet collected a combined total of 15 Super Bowl rings and 14 Pro Bowl appearances.

1999 Stepnoski’s return to Dallas also marked the reemergence of the Dallas running attack as one of the game’s most productive. Stepnoski played a key role in helping Emmitt Smith to his highest single season rushing total (1,397) since 1995, while also enabling the Pro Bowl running back to collect more 100-yard rushing games (nine) than in any other season in his career other than 1995. The Cowboys finished the season ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing with an average of 128.2 yards-per-game. From a pass protection standpoint, Stepnoski was a key part of an offensive line that allowed just 24 sacks in 531 pass plays (one every 22.1 pass plays), the second fewest sacks allowed in the NFL. The Dallas line also allowed one sack or less in nine regular season games, including five of the final six games. Stepnoski earned second-team All-Pro honors from the Football Digest for his performance.

1998 Stepnoski had a streak of 48 consecutive starts at center, dating back to day one of his Oilers. career, snapped when he missed the first three games of the 1998 season with a knee injury. After starting all four preseason games, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and was placed on the inactive list for the Oilers first three games. He returned to the lineup against Jacksonville (9/27) and continued his stellar play at center, starting the final 13 contests. Along the way, he helped anchor an offensive line that jump-started the NFL. s ninth-best rushing attack (123.1 yards-per-game). Beginning with his second week back in the lineup, the Oilers put together a string of seven consecutive games with over 110 yards on the ground. Eddie George had five consecutive games with over 100-yards during that stretch, including 153 yards at Pittsburgh (11/1).


Earned fifth consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Made 16 starts at C with Oilers. additional honors included AP Second-Team All-Pro, Football Digest Second-Team All-Pro and UPI Second-Team All-AFC. centered line that helped RB Eddie George gather Rookie-of-Year honors while rushing for 1,368 yards.


Agreed to terms with Oilers as unrestricted free agent on March 11 (officially signed 3/23).started all 16 games, centering line that cut sack total in half from previous season (65 in 1994 to 32 in 1995).


Returned to all-pro form after missing most of preseason while recovering from surgery on torn anterior cruciate ligament (right knee).started all 16 games at center (plus two post-season contests) and selected as starting center in Pro Bowl for NFC (third consecutive Pro Bowl, first as starter).other honors included First-Team All-Pro choice by Sports Illustrated (Dr. Z’s), Second-Team All-Pro accolades from AP and Football Digest, and First-Team All-NFC selection by UPI and Football News.anchored Cowboy line which established team record by allowing just 20 sacks (93 yards in losses), surpassing previous best of 23 set in ’92.


Despite having season cut short by knee injury, selected to second straight Pro Bowl.additional honors included Second-Team All-Pro recognition from College and Pro Football Newsweekly, as well as First-Team All-NFC honors by UPI and Football News.


Anchored line that helped team to victory in Super Bowl XXVII.selected to first Pro Bowl, while gathering Second-Team All-Pro honors from AP.also received All-NFC recognition from UPI and Football News.


Started all 16 games at center (plus two post-season contests) and graded out as one of team’s top linemen on weekly basis.key figure on offensive line that produced NFL’s top rusher (E. Smith, 1,563 yards).


In second season, became full-time starter for Cowboys.finished season with 16 starts, grading out as one of top linemen on offensive front.


Saw action in all 16 games, starting final four games at center.graded out as team’s best lineman over four starts.became first rookie to start at center for Cowboys since Robert Shaw (1979).

College Highlights Four-year starter at University of Pittsburgh.earned First-Team All-America honors as senior.also Outland Trophy finalist and Lombardi Award addition to recognition on field, was two-time Academic All-America and one of 11 National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame scholar-athletes.slowed by ankle injury in junior campaign, missing only game of collegiate career.received Third Team All-America notice and made Football News Sophomore All-America Team.became starting guard for Pitt in third game of freshman year.holds degree in communications.

Posted by A. Shapiro
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