Kevin Sweeney played for the Fresno State Bulldogs from 1983-1986, where he became one of the first Fresno QBs to really land on the radar of NFL scouts and a Heisman Trophy Watch List. In 1984, he threw for career highs in attempts (421), completions (221), yards (3,259), and touchdowns (20). His 10,585 career passing yardage mark stood as a school record, (until it was recently shattered by 2014 NFL draft pick Derek Carr), and as the NCAA mark, which has been beaten many times over in the modern spread era.
Kevin was taken in the 7th round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. It was a dream come true for Kevin, who grew up as a fan of the team, attending training camps on a regular basis. Undersized at 6’0″, Cowboys’ director of Personell Gil Brandt loved his personality and tenacity. During his time at Fresno St, Sweeney got to prove his grit, durability (started 46 games), and experience starting in a pro style offense as well. It was a difficult period for the team to say the least. As the luster was dulling on the stars that played in Dallas, there was a quarterback derby underway between Danny White and Steve Pelleur. He’d lose out though in training camp to 3rd stringer Paul McDonald. Then the NFL Strike happened and everything changed. With the ‘official players’ sidelined, Sweeney was the Cowboys ‘in-pocket quarterback’, – a guy they knew that if the strike was to happen, they were going to call him up, and make that investment pay off from the extra snaps and time Tom Landry and the organization invested into him- and did Sweeney ever. Many ‘scab’ teams were given silly strike nicknames. The Cowboys’ was particularly good. They were dubbed the Rhinestone Cowboys. Kevin came out in his first game as a starter and found Cornell Burbage streaking down the field. He’d hit him for the first touchdown during the NFL strike. The former Fresno St kid, parlayed it into a 2-0 record under center for the Boys. He’d throw for 291 yards and 4 touchdowns and a 111.8 quarterback rating. While the strike ending sent many players packing, Kevin returned to the Cowboys for 1988. While he wasn’t as successful for the team the following year, his time was up when new owner Jerry Jones came into town and fired Tom Landry and his whole staff, replacing him with Jimmy Johnson. Kevin signed with the San Fransisco 49ers in 1989 but was cut during training camp that year. At that point he went into a period of semi-retirement.
In 1991 the WLAF was getting off the ground, and Sweeney was being eyed by the young league. He’d be the second quarterback taken off the board by the Montreal Machine, after Brent Pease (Bir). He’d battle Mike Proctor for the starting job throughout the season. Benched and replaced, he’d reemerge during a contest against Sacramento with the team down 20-10. As he put 2 chipshots from Nittmo on the board, he’d rally the Machine for one final drive down the field trailing now 20-16 with a bit over 3 and a half minutes left. He’d put together a solid 93 yard drive in 8 plays, but suffer a fearsome hit from linebacker Pete Najarian – separating his shoulder. While the Machine won the game 26-23, Sweeney’s season and career was over. Kevin returned to Northern California and currently is a senior VP for Wells Fargo as of 2014. Well worth the wait and the failure I’d say, as not only did Kevin sign his Pro Set 1991 WLAF promo card, but he also included a signed photo of him with the Cowboys and Tom Landry in his own envelope. Really nice pick up here.
NFL 6/4 Att 106 Comp 46 Yds 605 Pct 44.3 Td 7 Int 6 Rat 61.2
Rush 11 Yds 42 Avg 3.8 Td 0 Lg 10
WLAF Att 69 Comp 24 Yds 219 Pct 34.8 Td 1 Int 3 Rat 31.0
Rush 19 Yds 84 Avg 4.4 Td 0 Lg 24