Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 67 Days with Jerry Fontenot

Chicago Bears
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Today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff brings us just 67 days from the start of the 2023 NFL season, meaning that today will feature the life and career of the best player in franchise history to represent the number 67, legendary center Jerry Fontenot.

Jerry Fontenot's Path to the Chicago Bears

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Fontenot attended nearby Lafayette High School, where he participated on the school's football team. After a dominant high school career, Fontenot was recruited by Texas A&M, where he accepted a scholarship offer that took effect in the fall of 1985.

Despite lettering as a freshman, Fontenot didn't start making waves until his sophomore season, when he became a starter at the center position. In his second season, the offensive lineman was voted as an All-Conference player while helping his team log a Cotton Bowl appearance at the end of the year. As a junior, Fontenot was perhaps even better and was voted All-American after helping his team win a Cotton Bowl victory.

Fontenot ended his collegiate career with another All-American nod and a fourth straight season as a letterman, despite the team as a whole having their worst season in the offensive lineman's time at the school. Nonetheless, Fontenot entered into the ensuing 1989 NFL Draft, where the Chicago Bears selected him with the 65th overall pick during the third round.

Jerry Fontenot Spends Almost a Decade with Chicago Bears

In his first three seasons with the Bears, Fontenot served mainly as the backup to starting center and Super Bowl champion Jay Hilgenberg. Still, the Texas A&M product had the opportunity to start seven games during his third season due to starting left guard Mike Bortz's injury.

After a season where Fontenot started half of the games out of position, the fourth-year player earned the starting center job in 1992, thanks in part to the release of Hilgenberg at the end of the prior season. In his first year as a starter, Fontenot started all 16 games of the team's regular season, a feat that he would replicate in all four ensuing seasons.

Jerry Fontenot
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In fact, from his first season as a starter to his final season in 1996, Fontenot started in all 80 regular season contests. Unfortunately, during this time the team was only able to manage 37 wins with Fontenot starting at the center position, and he was ultimately released from the roster following his eighth season with the team.

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Jerry Fontenot's Career After the Chicago Bears

As a free agent, Fontenot joined the New Orleans Saints, where he reunited with former Bears head coach Mike Ditka. Fontenot played in New Orleans for seven seasons, starting all 100 games that he was available for. After a one-year stint with the Bengals in 2004, Fontenot retired from the NFL in 1995. Over a 16-season career, Fontenot played in 239 games, with both numbers being the high marks for Texas A&M players in the NFL. With the Bears, he logged 128 games and 89 starts across eight seasons.

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Following his retirement, the former center has stayed extremely close to the game of football. From shortly after he retired to 2015, Fontenot served as an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers where he worked with the team's offensive line, running backs, and tight ends. Today, he works as the offensive line coach for the XFL's Los Angeles Wildcats.