Jeff Criswell '86 was Graceland's first alum to make it into the professional sporting arena when he joined the NFL's New York Jets in 1988. Criswell was a mainstay on the offensive line for many seasons and had a successful career with the Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring from football in 1998.
Recently, Criswell was featured on the New York Jets website in an article — Where Are They Now: Jeff Criswell.
Criswell initially backed up that year's top draft pick Dave Cadigan at tackle and Mike Haight at guard. He then took over the left tackle position after Cadigan suffered an injury during practice after the fourth game of the season.
He played well, impressed more than a few people, and basically stayed put on the left end of the line.
"I got a lot of press because I was a nobody from nowhere," Criswell said with a laugh. "I wasn't really anybody's guy with them bringing in first- and fifth-round guys. I kinda caught (pro personnel director) Jim Royer's eye. I think he was a guy who was in my corner as things continued to develop. And, of course, Joe Walton was the coach, and he liked me, as well."
Developing into a cornerstone at left tackle, Criswell was with New York for seven seasons from 1988-94. What are the fondest memories from his time with the Jets?
Criswell's success in the NFL is an example of the types of success that can come out of Graceland University. He has returned to campus to speak to the Yellowjackets football team in past seasons and continues to be a great example of Gracelanders out in the world.