Illini legends, lists and lore: Charles Carroll "Tony" Eason

Illini legends, lists and lore: Charles Carroll "Tony" Eason

Today is former Illini quarterback Charles Carroll "Tony" Eason's 58th birthday.

Illinois's Most Valuable Player in each of his two seasons, he broke nearly every passing mark in UI's record book.

As a junior in 1981, Eason connected on 61.1 percent of his passes for 3,360 yards and 20 touchdowns. He tossed for more than 300 yards seven times, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Eason sparkled again during his final season in '82, adding 3,248 yards and 17 TDs to his statistics, and repeating as the conference's top QB.

His 6,608 career passing yards nearly doubled Illinois' previous record and his 37 career touchdowns were 16 more than the previous Illini mark.

Eason was the 15th overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, being selected by New England. He was the Patriots' starter four times that first season. Battling Steve Grogan for the starting job in '84, Eason won out, notching 3,228 yards.

In 1985, a Super Bowl season for New England, Eason directed the Patriots down the stretch, including a playoff-clinching victory against Cincinnati in the regular-season finale. As the AFL's second Wild Card team, Eason and New England ultimately posted consecutive road playoff victories against the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Raiders, then in the AFC Championship Game against the host Miami Dolphins. Eason completed almost 70 percent of his passes during those three games.

Good fortune ended for Eason and the Patriots in the Super Bowl against the powerful Chicago Bears, losing 46-10.

Eason also guided New England into the 1986 NFL playoffs. He was traded to the Jets in 1989 and his professional career ended in 1990.

Today, he lives in San Marcos, Calif., and runs a business called Athletic Enhancements.

Illini Birthdays:

Sunday: Cody Salter, baseball (42)

Monday: Del'Shawn Phillips, football (21)

Tuesday: Kenny Battle, basketball (53)

Wednesday: Luke Simmons, baseball (38)

Thursday: Neil Bresnahan, basketball (59)

Friday: Derek Harper, basketball (56)

Saturday: Bill Cubit, football coach (64)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is www.SportsLLL.