CHUCK CECIL
 HELIX HIGH

 1983

 

This former member of the Secret Society parlayed an unbelievable determination to succeed and an incomparable tenacity to become one of the greatest players in the history of Helix High School, the University of Arizona and the National Football League. Although he stood six feet tall and weighed only about 150 pounds, Chuck early on became known for his physical play. As a senior, this All-CIF safety spearheaded a defense that set a school record for fewest points allowed per game (6.3) and led the Highlanders to the 1982 CIF Title. He set individual records for most passes intercepted in one game (3), one season (10) and career interceptions (19).

Notwithstanding his lack of size, Chuck walked on at the University of Arizona where he ultimately inherited the free safety position from former Secret Society great and All-American Allan Durden. His accomplishments at Arizona became legendary and are talked about to this day. During his Wildcat career Chuck set a career record for most interceptions with 21. He intercepted six passes as a sophomore, six as a junior and nine as a senior. His career interception mark was also a PAC-10 record. Chuck also set the single game interception record when he picked off 4 passes against Stanford University. For his career Chuck had 241 yards in interception return yardage and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He returned one of these interceptions a school record 100 yards against Arizona State University. This 100-yard return was voted the best play in the history of Arizona football by Wildcat fans.

Chuck led the Wildcats in unassisted tackles in 1987 (80), in blocked kicks in 1986 (3), passes broken up in 1986 (19 an Arizona record), passes broken up in 1987 (12) and caused fumbles in 1986 (3). In 1986 Chuck was ranked 10th in the nation with 6 interceptions and 2nd in the nation in 1987 with nine. He was awarded All-American honors in both 1986 and 1987. In 1987 Kodak, Football News, UPI and Walter Camp voted him a consensus 1st Team All-American. He was Second Team All PAC-10 in 1885 and First Team All-PAC 10 in 1986 and 1987. He was voted to the PAC-10 All Academic Team in 1985, 1986 and 1987. He was also selected an Academic All-American in 1985, 1986 and 1987. Chuck was selected PAC-10 Player of the Week three times and in 1987 he was selected the PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year. In 1988 he was awarded the prestigious PAC-10 Conference Medal.

Chuck was also selected the Defensive MVP of the 1986 Aloha Bowl and was selected to both the 1988 Hula Bowl and Senior Bowl squads. In 1987 he was awarded the NCAA Top Six Award and received an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship in 1987. He was also voted the PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Decade for the 1980ís. Along with his 100- yard interception return that was voted best play in Arizona football history, Wildcat football fans voted him their favorite Wildcat in Arizona history and the most popular player in school football history. Chuck was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

Chuck was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round of the 1988 NFL draft. Although many NFL executives doubted that he had the size and speed to play on this level, Chuck made the Packer roster and as a rookie he made the most of his limited playing time making 28 tackles, 4 assisted tackles and broke up 7 passes. He also intercepted 4 passes and had 56 yards in return yardage.

Chuck played 8 years in the NFL and was one of the most feared defensive backs in professional football. The former All-Pro safety played the game with an intensity and toughness that was more common in the first four decades of the NFL when players were not fined for hitting too hard. When John Madden selected him to his 1991 All-Madden Team he referred to Chuck as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. When Sports Illustrated placed him on the cover of their October 1993 issue they posed the question: Is Chuck Cecil too violent for the NFL? The NFL answered Sports Illustratedís question by assessing Chuck record fines for what the league termed illegal hits (For those who are interested I have included in Chuckís file the official transcripts associated with his appeals and the commissionerís findings). Chuck became the first player in NFL history to be told to change his style of play because he hit too hard. To this day the NFL does not allow film footage of his hits to be shown on video and television highlights.

After retiring from football in 1996, Chuck joined the Celebrity Golf Tour and traveled the country  playing in numerous tour events. In 2001 he joined the coaching staff of the NFL Tennessee Titans and in 2009 became the Titan's Defensive Coordinator. In 2012 he was reunited with former Tennessee head coach Jeff Fischer and currently coaches the defensive secondary for the St. Louis Rams. He resides in St. Louis with his wife Carrie have daughter Charli. Chuckís determination and belief in himself took him to the pinnacle of athletic success in a game where most players are much bigger, faster and stronger. He has always been a source of motivation for young players who want to play the game but do not have the physical attributes that many coaches look for in their players. For this and his many accomplishments, the Star Chamber is honored to include Chuck in the Star Chamber Gallery of Stars.

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