|Date of birth:||October 8, 1959|
|Place of birth:||Blythe, California|
|Height:||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|NFL Draft:||1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 15|
|Career NFL statistics|
Charles Carroll "Tony" Eason, IV (born October 8, 1959) is a former quarterback. He played college football for the University of Illinois (1980–1982) and professional football for the New England Patriots (1983–1989) and New York Jets (1989–1990).
Eason grew up in Walnut Grove, California, and attended Delta High School in Clarksburg, California, a school with only 250 students at the time. Despite an impressive high school football career, Eason's only scholarship offer from a Division I school came from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Eason's grades prevented him from enrolling at University of the Pacific, and he opted to attend American River Junior College in Sacramento, California. Eason spent two years playing football at American River in 1978 and 1979.
Eason transferred to the University of Illinois and sat out the 1980 season. He was 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighed 205 pounds when he took over as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Illini in 1981. His first start for Illinois matched Eason against Pitt's quarterback Dan Marino; the Illini lost 26-6, but Eason made an impressive debut as he completed 23 of 37 passes for 207 yards (slightly better than the 204 yards passing by Marino in the game). In his first season with the Illini, Eason led the Illini to a 7-4 record, but the team was ineligible to play in a bowl game due to sanctions imposed by the Big Ten Conference. Eason completed 248 of 406 passes (61.1%) for 3,360 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Illini ranked third in the nation in passing in 1981, as Eason led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense and set nine conference records, including records for total offense, completions, passing yardage, and passing touchdowns. He also edged out Art Schlichter as the quarterback on the Associated Press' All Big-Ten football team.
Eason earned the nickname "Champaign Tony" while playing at Illinois, based upon the city in which the university is located.
As a senior in 1982, Eason accumulated a school record 3,671 passing yards and led the Illini to a 7-4 regular season record and its first appearance in a bowl games since the 1964 Rose Bowl. He also broke five NCAA passing records in 1982 and tied four more. The NCAA records set by Eason in 1982 included most total yards per game in a career (299.5), most passing yards per game in a career (300.4), most completions per game in a career (23.9), and most total yards in first two seasons (6,589). Eason finished second in the voting behind Michigan's Anthony Carter for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten.
Eason's final game for Illinois was the 1982 Liberty Bowl, which also marked the last head coaching appearance of Bear Bryant for Alabama. Although Illinois lost the game 21-15, Eason registered a record 433 passing yards in the game. Eason also threw four of the Illini's seven interceptions in the game.
Eason still holds many of the school's all-time passing records, including the following:
- Passing yardage in a season - 3,671 (1982)
- Passing yards per game in a season - 333.7 (1982)
- Passing yards per game in a career - 300.4 (1981–82)
- Pass attempts in a season - 505 (1982)
- Pass efficiency in a season - 140.0 (1981)
- Pass efficiency in a career - 133.8 (1981–82)
- Most interceptions in a season - 19 (1982)
- Consecutive pass completions - 14, at Iowa, 10/30/82
New England Patriots
Eason was selected by the New England Patriots in the first round (15th overall pick) of the 1983 NFL Draft. He was one of six quarterbacks picked in the first round of the 1983 Draft along with John Elway (1st pick), Todd Blackledge (7th pick), Jim Kelly (14th pick), Ken O'Brien (24th pick), and Dan Marino (27th pick).
Eason appeared in 72 games (49 as a starter) for the Patriots between 1983 and 1989. His best years were from 1984 to 1986 when he was the Patriots' starting quarterback. In 1984, he completed 259 out of 431 passes (60.1%) for 3,228 yards and a passer rating of 93.4—third best in the NFL. In 1986, he completed 276 of 448 passes (61.6%) for 3,328 yards and a passer rating of 89.2—fourth best in the NFL. Eason also set an undesirable record in 1984 by being sacked 59 times for a loss of 409 yards; his 59 sacks was the most in NFL history at the time and currently stands as the ninth highest single season total. Eason also led the NFL in interception percentage in the 1984 season with 1.9% of his passes being intercepted.
Super Bowl XX
In the 1985 season, Eason helped the Patriots clinch a playoff berth with a 34-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale. Eason led the Patriots offense as they became the first team in NFL history to win three games on the road to reach the Super Bowl. He threw three touchdowns against the Marino-led Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game, the first time New England had beaten the Dolphins at the Orange Bowl since 1966.
The Patriots made their first appearance in a Super Bowl in franchise history that year, meeting the Chicago Bears with Jim McMahon and Walter Payton. The Bears' famed 46 defense defeated Eason and the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, and Eason became the first starting quarterback in Super Bowl history not to complete a pass, going 0-for-6. Eason was replaced with Steve Grogan, but the Patriots still lost the game, by a final score of 46-10, which was the largest winning margin of any Super Bowl up to that time.
In 2008, ESPN ranked Eason's performance as the worst (82nd out of 82) in the history of the Super Bowl, noting, "In addition to his awful passing stats, he lost a fumble and not surprisingly was yanked in the second quarter."
New York Jets
Tony Eason is sometimes misattributed to another player by the same name, a former wide receiver, Tony Eason, who played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
- Dan Vierria (1986-01-24). "Determination and luck moved Tony Eason along". Anchorage Daily News (McClatchy News Service).
- Bob Smizik (1981-09-04). "Marino Pitt's Man With Golden Arm". Pittsburgh Press-Gazette.
- "Eason, defense pass their first test, but Illini fall to Pitt: Eason passes test, but Illini lose". Chicago Tribune. 1981-09-06.
- George Sauerberg (1982-08-27). "Bowl Bound? Quarterback Eason has high hopes for the Illini". Milwaukee Sentinel.
- Joe Mooshil (1981-12-01). "Eason Edges Schlichter on All Big Ten". The Argus-Press.
- Ian Thomsen (1983-05-08). "'CHAMPAIGN' TONY EASON; A NORMAL GUY FINDS HIMSELF IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME". Boston Globe.
- "Pitt To Try a Taste of 'Champaign'". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1982-09-24.
- Mike Goens (1982-12-28). "Eason hard act to follow for future Illini hopefuls". Times-Daily.
- Roy Damer (1982-12-25). "Michigan's Carter wins Tribune's Silver Football". Chicago Tribune.
- "Tide rolls final time for Bear". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1982-12-30.
- "Tony Eason powers East to Shrine win". The Bulletin (Oregon). 1983-01-16.
- "Individual Records". Fighting Illini (official site). Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "Tony Eason profile". pro-football-reference.com.
- "1983 NFL Draft". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "NFL Single-Season Sacked Leaders". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "Eason Lets Instincts Lead Him". The Palm Beach Post. 1986-01-20.
- "Tony Eason Leads Patriots With a Cool, Casual Manner: He's Reverse of Bears' QB Jim McMahon". Ocala Star-Banner. 1986-01-24.
- Allison Wachs (2008-01-22). "Patriots' Eason bottoms out with an O-fer: From Joe Montana to Tony Eason, ESPN.com ranks the Super Bowl starting quarterbacks from 1-82". espn.com.
- Rudy Klancnik (2008-01-23). "Eason isn't eager to relive his day in the spotlight: Tony Eason would rather not discuss his day as the only Super Bowl starting quarterback to fail to complete a single pass". espn.com.
- "Super to Hoopster: Sixteen years after starting the Super Bowl, Tony Eason is back home as a coach - in basketball". The Sacramento Bee. 2002-01-31.