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Ex-Spartan Pennington, Jets QB, ‘shoulders’ job as speaker; named year’s top Pro by Hall


New York Jets starting quarterback Chad Pennington never passes on a chance to come home to Knoxville.

The former Marshall University and Webb School of Knoxville star was the keynote speaker of the 2007 Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday, July 12, at the Knoxville Convention Center.


Pennington also accepted the award for the Pro Athlete of the Year by the organization.

“It’s always nice to come back home, and to have an honor such as this is rewarding for me because of the difficult challenges I have been through the last two years. I think it is another way to show that hard work pays off,” Pennington said.

Pennington underwent two shoulder operations in consecutive years and rebounded to earn the 2006 Associated Press’s Comeback Player of the Year award by throwing for 3,352 yards and 17 touchdowns.

This off-season has been a great one for Pennington because it is the first time in a couple of years he is entering training camp at full strength.

“It’s been exciting because I haven’t had to deal with the shoulder surgery or injury or just one part of my body,” Pennington said. “I have been able to concentrate on myself as a total athlete. It’s been different but it’s been fun because I can really work hard at getting better and try and become an expert.”

Pennington returns annually to Webb, where he graduated in 1996, to instruct a three-day football camp. This year’s camp ran July 9 -11.

Pennington is a strong supporter of one-on-one attention, saying it got him into Marshall University, where he starred and became a Heisman trophy finalist his senior year in 1999.

After a senior campaign at Marshall where Pennington compiled 4,006 yards and 38 touchdowns through the air, he was selected in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft by the Jets as the 18th overall pick.

In seven seasons with the Jets, Pennington has thrown for 11,973 yards and 72 touchdowns.

This year, Pennington, his wife Robin, and two children are going to spend time in the mountains before training camp begins.

 

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