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Iowa State Players in Professional Football: Part 4A (1980s)

Learn about the Cyclones that had a played professionally in the 1980s below!

As mentioned in previous editions, this attempts to cover every Cyclone who played professionally.

Previous editions: 1920s-1930s, 1940s-1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

Game Program from 69-0 win over Colorado State.


Iowa State vs. Brigham Young, September 28, 1974

Tony Norman - CFL & NFL

Tony won his only ISU letter in 1974.

Little to nothing is known about him until September 1980, when he became part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after being with the Vikings. After further review, he was stashed on the IR in 1979 for Minnesota after being picked up from a free agent camp in Atlanta, because he “showed great athletic ability but little experience.”

Norman would soon find experience at the Canadian level. An article on TSN says: “Tony Norman was menace to opposing quarterbacks for seven seasons. He remains the Blue Bombers leader amongst defensive linemen with 59 sacks; sacks were introduced as a stat in 1981.” He was one of five finalists as a top defensive lineman in Blue Bomber history. He also blocked a kick in 1984. Norman was a CFL West All-Star in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Additionally, Norman is a Grey Cup Champion and starting DE in 1984.

He would go back to the Vikings in 1987 and take part in two losses.

Kenny Neil - 1981 NFL Draft - 7th Round, 169th Overall - New York Jets

The Cincinnati native played from 1977-1980, accumulating 230 tackles, and assisting on 111 more. The still on the left is from a practice session prior to the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic.

Kenny Neil vs. Pacific in 1979

He would appear in the 1981 Senior Bowl.

Number 77 played in 42 total games, 1982 had to be his best season as this article explains him filling a defensive void and doing a good job at it. He accumulated 9.5 sacks in 1982 and ‘83 with the Jets.

Neil was part of the opening day roster for the Portland Breakers squad of 1985. He had 5.5 sacks over the course of the season.

In 1987, he would appear with the Houston Oilers.

Larry Crawford (Undrafted)

The Miami native who was named a First-Team All Big Eight cornerback in 1980 was also four year letterwinner at Iowa State (1977-1980). He was invited to play in the 1980 Blue-Gray Classic (24-23 win for the Blue) a game in which he received the honor of Defensive MVP. He had two interceptions in that game.

He is tied with three other Cyclones (6th All-Time) with nine interceptions: Ellis Hobbs (2001-04), Joe Brown (1978-81), and Jeff Simonds (1966-68).

Trivia question time: who was the only other Cyclone to win offensive OR defensive MVP at the Blue-Gray Classic?

Professionally he spent time with the B.C. Lions in 1981-89 and also the Toronto Argonauts in 1989.

He was a four time CFL All-Star: 1983-84-86-87.

He also made two Grey Cup appearances with the Lions: 1983, 1985-champs

His son, J.P. Crawford, is a shortstop with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Dwayne Crutchfield - 1982 NFL Draft - 3rd Round, 79th Overall - New York Jets

Dwayne was an All-American tailback in 1980 for the Cyclones.

He was invited to and played in the Hula and Olympia Bowl.

He was the leading rusher in a 1983 loss against the Cleveland Browns.

1983 New York Times article about Crutchfield getting cut by the Jets.

Hank Stram, former Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs coach described Dwayne’s rushing as “trying to tackle a rolling manhole cover.” He would play in 34 professional games and score six touchdowns.

Dan Johnson - 1982 NFL Draft - 7th Round, 170th Overall - Miami Dolphins

Dan Johnson was a tight end at Iowa State in 1980 and 1981. He had 25 receptions which led him to 406 total receiving yards. His longest reception as a Cyclone came in 1980, with length totaling 76 yards. He caught 21 passes for 290 yards in 1981.

Coach Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins is pictured on the sidelines with tight end Dan Johnson, #87, and quarterback Dan Marino.
(Getty Images)

The “King of Pain” as he would be known professionally, was drafted in 1982. The Minnesota native started all sixteen regular season games, and by the time Super Bowl XIX rolled around, he got the starting nod yet again. He would have three receptions on the day, the first good for 5 yards, second good for 21 yards, and third good for two yards and a Miami touchdown. Unfortunately, the rest of the Dolphins couldn’t shore up success, and they lost 38-16.

Karl Nelson - 1983 NFL Draft - 3rd Round, 70th Overall - New York Giants

Karl Nelson and Tim Stonerook celebrate one of Rocky Gillis’ three TDs in ISU’s 38-10 win over Bowling Green in 1979.

Nelson was named the Cyclones’ top offensive lineman three consecutive years. He played in the East-West shrine game.

Nelson was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round, and he played a key role for the Giants who made it to and won Super Bowl XXI in 1986. Nelson also made the Pro Bowl that year.

He wrote “Life on the Line,” his autobiography on his comeback from Hodgkin’s Disease.

2005 Cyclone Hall of Fame inductee.

2012 Q&A with Nelson from the New York Times.

Iowa State Football — Facebook

John Arnaud - 3 Seasons in the USFL

The following is from an article on commemorating his (June 4, 1961 - November 10, 2012) life:

“The defensive back was known for his big hits from the secondary. He started three years at safety and cornerback for the Cyclones, but knee injuries hampered his progress throughout his career. Arnaud was a preseason All-Big Eight selection in 1981 after a fantastic sophomore year in 1980 where he recorded 35 tackles, including six for a loss. Iowa State began the 1981 season at 5-1-1 and was ranked in the top-25 nationally until Arnaud went down with a season-ending knee injury. His key interception vs. Oklahoma in 1981 helped the Cyclones tie the fifth-ranked Sooners, 7-7.”

“A gifted athlete, Arnaud was also an excellent high-jumper, clearing a career best of 7-2 for the Cyclones. He was the only freshman to make the finals of the high jump at the 1980 NCAA Championship.”

“Land Shark” would go on to start for the Michigan Panthers for the 1983 USFL Championship game, a game in which the Panthers won 24-22 over the Philadelphia Stars.

He would spend 1984 with the Panthers before heading to the Memphis Showboats in 1985.

He would pass away due to lung cancer.

Ronnie Osborne, ISU defensive back, does what he’s best at — pulling down offensive players. Following the Nebraska game, Osborne had forty-eight tackles, one touchdown save, three fumble recoveries, and four interceptions.
1983 Bomb — Page 274

Ron Osborne - 3 Seasons in the USFL

Ronnie started his Cyclone career as a backup quarterback in 1979. He only completed one of his attempted two passes, and he also had 36 rushing yards. Additionally, he also returned 10 kickoffs for a total of 113 yards, before he made the switch to defense.

Osborne was a first team All-Big Eight Safety in 1982. That season, he had four interceptions that he returned for a total of 35 yards.

The teammate of “Land Shark” would make his way to the same professional teams as Arnaud did, playing with the Michigan Panthers in 1983-84 and the Memphis Showboats in 1985.

David Archer set Iowa State single-season records in passing yards (2,639), completions (234) and TD passes (18) in 1983.
Cyclone Sidebar

David Archer - 1984 USFL Draft - 9th Round, 171st Overall - Denver Gold

Only played two seasons as quarterback of Iowa State (1982 and 1983), but the Snow Community College (UT) transfer found immediate success. In 1983, Archer and Tracy Henderson formed one of the most dangerous offenses in school history.

The following is an excerpt from his Cyclone Hall of Fame (Class of 2005) bio:

“Archer set school marks in pass completions (234), attempts (403), yards (2,639), total offense (2,698), touchdowns (18) and lowest interception percentage (.029). He led the Big Eight and ranked eighth nationally in total offense while his favorite target Henderson caught a then-school record 1,051 yards, ranking third nationally to help him earn All-America honors.”

“When Archer’s career ended, he ranked No. 1 in the ISU career record book in both passing yards (4,104) and completions (359) in just two seasons. His 2,639 passing yards and 2,698 yards of total offense his senior season are still the second-best single-season marks in Iowa State history.”

He would be picked up in the USFL draft by the Denver Gold, but chose to sign a free agent contract with the Falcons.

More on that from the previously quoted bio: “His decision paid off, making the Falcons’ roster in 1984. The following season, Archer played in all 16 games and led Atlanta with 1,992 passing yards. In 1986, Archer earned the starting QB job and promptly led the Falcons to a 5-1-1 record after seven games. For the Falcons’ surprising start, Archer was named NFC Player of the Month for September and kept the Falcons rolling until an injury ended his season with five games remaining. He finished the year with 2,007 passing yards and 10 touchdown strikes in 11 games, throwing for a career-high 350 yards against the New York Giants. The mobile Archer proved to be one of the better running QBs in the league, ranking at the top of the NFL in QB rushing yards in both 1985 (347 yards) and 1986 (298).”

In his last two seasons with the Redskins and then the Chargers, he would go 0-2 as a Redskin in 1988, and 5-12 as a Charger in 1989. He also spent time with the Eagles in 1991.

He would win World Bowl II with the Sacramento Surge in 1992, he would also be named World Bowl MVP. He also spent time with: the Sacramento Gold Miners (‘93-94), San Antonio Texans (‘95), Ottawa Rough Riders (‘96), and Edmonton Eskimos (‘98).

Chris Washington - 1984 NFL Draft - 6th Round, 142nd Overall - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Washington, despite only playing one year of high school football, would become the best tackler in Iowa State history, totalling 457 tackles from 1980-1983. In 1981, he totalled 168 tackles (110 solo stops) which is also a school record.

Wesley Winterink

He chose Iowa State over Northwestern and Minnesota.

From his Iowa State Hall of Fame Class of 2009 biography:

Washington emerged as one of ISU’s leaders on defense in his sophomore season (1981). He played a big part in the Cyclones’ 23-12 victory over Iowa, recording 11 tackles, including eight solos and a sack. He finished the season with a whopping 168 tackles, establishing a new school record for stops in a season - a mark that still stands today. His 110 solo tackles led the Big Eight Conference.

Possessing 4.6 speed in the 40, Washington used his quickness to track down ballcarriers from all areas of the field. Washington also was trained in karate, earning a first-degree brown belt. He credited much of his success from karate, where he developed superior concentration and flexibility.

As a junior in 1982, Washington joined forces with ISU interior linemen Chris Boskey and Shamus McDonough to form one of the best defenses in the country. The Cyclones allowed just 289.7 yards per game in total defense, ranking 12th nationally. Washington again led the team in tackles, recording 147 total stops, including a league-high 98 solos, to earn second-team all-Big Eight honors.

He capped off his Cyclone career with 134 tackles as a senior (1983) to help him earn all-Big Eight honors for the second consecutive year. The team captain, who was named ISU’s outstanding defensive player in 1983, ended his stay in Ames with 457 tackles, a school record which is 59 tackles ahead of second-place Keith Schroeder on ISU’s all-time list.

In 1984, Washington was drafted in the third round of the USFL draft by the Washington Federals and in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Washington signed with the Buccaneers, immediately finding a spot at outside linebacker in his rookie season. He started seven games, tying for third on the team with 5.0 sacks. Washington started every game at linebacker the next three seasons (1985-87) for the Bucs, recording 12.5 sacks during that span. In the 1987 strike-shortened season, Washington tallied a career-high 6.5 quarterback sacks to rank second on the squad.

He was traded to San Francisco in 1989, but missed the entire season after breaking his ankle in the preseason. He finished his NFL career in 1990 with the Phoenix Cardinals.

Bruce Reimers - 1984 NFL Draft - 8th Round, 204th Overall - Cincinnati Bengals

Bruce was a letterwinning offensive guard standout at Iowa State the following years: 1979-81-82-83. He appeared in the 1983 Blue-Gray Bowl, Gray won 17-13.

He spent a decade playing in the NFL, with most of his time spent in Cincinnati.

Bruce Reimers still from Super Bowl XXIII

Dan Martin - 1984 NFL Draft - 11th Round, 288th Overall - New York Jets

In the 1983 season, Martin was the starting right tackle.

Captains Marcus Butts and John Quinn take the field in 1981

Marcus Butts - 1 Season (USFL)

The Des Moines North product lettered at Iowa State from 1979 to 1981 as a defensive end.

Captains Marcus Butts (99) and John Quinn (18) of Iowa State get instructions from the referee before the coin toss at the Iowa-Iowa State game on September 19, 1981. The Cyclones won the game 23-12.
Wesley Winterink

In January 1984, the Panthers signed him to their roster, but by March he was cut.

Michael Wade - 1 Season (CFL)

Iowa State’s leading receiver in 1981 (27 catches, 343 yards) spent the 1984 CFL season with the Calgary Stampeders.

He appeared in three games for Calgary.

CFL Stats:

One rush for 20 yards, five receptions for 56 yards and one kickoff return for 12 yards.

Tracy Henderson - 1985 NFL Draft - 5th Round, 132nd Overall - NY Giants

Henderson never wore a red helmet, ‘I don’t need to be singled out (by wearing a red helmet) at this point,’ Henderson said. ‘I’ve got enough people (defenders) looking for me as it is. There’s a time and place for everything.’

He probably would’ve had a deeper lead in the record books, but Criner kicked him off the team. He still has the most receiving yards in one game with 217, which came against A&M in 1984.

From a February 1985 Chicago Tribune article:

“Tracy Henderson and fellow wide receiver Robbie Minor have been kicked off the Iowa State football for what coach Jim Criner said were disciplinary reasons. Henderson, who is from Maywood, said Criner felt he hadn`t given 100 percent and was a negative influence. Henderson said Minor was kicked off the squad because he argued with a coach. Criner would not elaborate on the dismissals.

Henderson, a second-team All America last fall and a third-team selection in 1983, had one year of eligibility remaining. Minor had two. Henderson said he would like to remain at Iowa State, but didn`t think Criner would let him return to the team. Henderson said Criner had lifted his scholarship. Henderson was Division I-A’s fifth-leading receiver last season with 64 catches for 941 yards and 6 touchdowns.

This was the second year Henderson has gotten in trouble with Criner. Last year, the coach refused to allow him to be interviewed because of an attitude problem.”

Henderson said he was “blessed to be here (New York)” in May 1985, but by August the Giants cut the fifth round draft pick.

Jim Luebbers - 1986 NFL Draft - 9th Round, 241st Overall - NY Giants

Luebbers was an honorable mention All-American in 1985.

Dennis Gibson - 1987 NFL Draft - 8th Round, 203rd Overall - Detroit Lions

The Ankeny HS grad had a very successful Cyclone career, dating from 1983-1986. He led the Cyclones in interceptions with three in the 1984 season. In 1985 and 1986, he won the outstanding defensive player award, given by Iowa State.

His most famous moment in his 1987-1995 career would come as a then San Diego Charger, which came about as a pass deflection on 4th Down that would send San Diego to the Super Bowl.

Bernie Parmalee of the Miami Dolphins (C) is gang-tackled by San Diego Chargers from (L): John Parrella, Junior Seau and Dennis Gibson during their 08 January playoff game in San Diego, CA. The Chargers’ defense didn’t allow Miami to score in the second half as the Chargers won 22-21.
Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images

December 2017 interview with Dennis.

Iowa State Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

Terrence Anthony 1987 NFL Draft - 9th Round, 236th Overall - Miami Dolphins

Three year letterwinner (1984-1986) and one time conference player of the week (1985 game vs. Vanderbilt), Terrence was a three year starter on defense as a cornerback.

His shining moment as a Cyclone would likely be his game sealing interception over #7 Oklahoma State in 1985.

Iowa State vs. Vanderbilt, September 21, 1985
RS 24/6/0/5

He would be drafted by the Falcons in the 1987 NFL Draft. His one game, however, came as St. Louis Cardinal in October of 1987.

Bill Berthusen - 1987 NFL Draft - 12th Round, 321st Overall - New York Giants

Iowa State vs. Vanderbilt, September 21, 1985
RS 24/6/0/5

Four year letterwinner from 1983-1986.

His first three starts were with the Bengals. His fourth and final game would be with the Giants. He finished his NFL nose tackle career with 2.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery.

Alex Espinoza (Undrafted)

The Cal State Fullerton transfer found success in his three years during the Jim Criner days, throwing for 5,307 yards and 33 touchdowns as a Cyclone. 1986 would be his best season as he was number one or number two in every quarterback related stat in the Big 8.

He would play his only NFL game with Kansas City with the following stat line: 9/14 | 69 yards | 2 interceptions.

In 1991-92, he spent time in the WLAF with the Frankfurt Galaxy.

2011 interview with Espinoza.

Vince Jasper (63)

Vince Jasper (Undrafted)

He was a right guard from 1984-1986. Arthur Floyd Scott Award winner in 1985 which goes to both the most outstanding offensive lineman and defensive lineman.

He appeared in three games with the New York Jets during the strike shortened season of 1987.

Andrew Jackson (Undrafted)

A Cyclone in 1985 and 1986, he would appear in 21 games and would gain 870 yards rushing in the two years. The Los Angeles native played in 7 games for the Houston Oilers. He would score one touchdown professionally, and that would be against the Broncos in Week 4.

Greg Liter (Undrafted)

A four year letterwinner from 1983-1986, number 90 would be a key part of a defensive unit that featured Dennis Gibson. He finished with 202 tackles and 7 sacks.

San Francisco 49ers (L-R) Keith Browner (59), Randy Cross (51), Keith Fahnhorst (71), Greg Liter (77), and Chuck Thomas (60) casual on field during practice session at Red Morton Park. 49ers return to field after 24-day players’ strike. Redwood City, CA 10/23/1987
Mickey Pfleger /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Professionally Liter (seen kneeling) would play in two games with two different teams in 1987. In Week 4 of the 1987 Season, he took part in a 41-21 victory over the Giants as a 49er. In Week 6, he would be an Eagle in a 16-10 loss on a 46 degree day at Lambeau.

Kelly Goodburn (Undrafted)

Averaged 45.0 yards per punt in 1980, second best Freshman mark in Cyclone history.

Iowa State vs. Nebraska, November 13, 1982

Goodburn played at ISU from 1980-1983. Went to Emporia State in 1984.

He spent seven years in the NFL. He was a part of Washington’s Super Bowl XXVI winning team in 1992. In that game he punted for 150 yards on 4 punts. In his career, he would punt for 14,011 yards (140th most in NFL history) and he would average 39.9 yards a punt.

Aaron Manning (Undrafted)

The 5’11” Jersey City native was a two year letterwinning cornerback in 1985 and 1986. He had 80 tackles as a Cyclone and assisted on 17 more.

He would appear in three October of 1987 games with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jim Criner, Phil Bennett and Jeff Braswell in 1984. | Jeff Braswell had 16.0 TFL in 1984, tying for the 5th-best season total in school history.

Jeff Braswell - 4 CFL Seasons

1987 Bomb - Page 34

Jeff Braswell spent time with the following CFL teams: B.C. Lions 1988, Edmonton Eskimos 1989-90, Ottawa Rough Riders 1991 and Toronto Argonauts 1991.

Brad Henke (99)

Brad Henke - 1989 NFL Draft - 4th Round, 105th Overall - New York Giants

Henke played in five games in 1985 and accumulated 7 tackles before going to the University of Arizona. He would then be drafted by the Giants in 1989.

He would then get sent to Denver where he would take part in Super Bowl XXIV.

He would also play in the WLAF with the Raleigh–Durham Skyhawks and Barcelona Dragons before injuries caused the footballer to turn to acting.

He is known today as playing Desi Piscatella on the Netflix show Orange is the New Black.

Joe Henderson - 1989 NFL Draft - 10th Round, 273rd Overall - New Orleans Saints

Joe Henderson was the first Cyclone to score five touchdowns in a single game (against Kansas 1988), he also was a 1,000+ yard rusher in back to back seasons.

He also was named First Team All-Big Eight in 1987, his 1,232 rushing yards that season made him eighth nationally.

He won the Ray Scott Award in 1987 and 1988 which goes to the most outstanding Iowa State offensive player.

He was invited to play in both the East-West Shrine Game and Blue-Gray Game.

Joe was drafted by the Saints, however, he’d spend his NFL days with the Colts, before moving on to the World League of American Football

The Birmingham Fire drafted Henderson 9th Overall in 1991. He accumulated 175 total rushing yards on the season, and had his longest rush of 35 yards for a touchdown against the Sacramento Surge in Week 2. He spent 1992 with the Barcelona Dragons.

Per his Wikipedia page: “In total he caught 532 passes for 8663 yards in 160 career CFL games with 63 touchdowns. Eddie had 3 1,000 yard seasons, all with Edmonton, and was a CFL All-Star in 1996 as well as Western All-Star in 1996 and 1999. His shoestring catch in the snow of the 84th Grey Cup is considered to be one of the most memorable plays in Grey Cup history.”

Stay tuned for Part 4B (1990s)! Also, feel free to leave memories, stories, anything regarding the players mentioned above!