For the Australian actor, see David E. Woodley.
David Woodley
No. 16, 19     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1958-10-25)October 25, 1958
Place of birth: Shreveport, Louisiana
Date of death: May 4, 2003(2003-05-04) (aged 44)
Place of death: Shreveport, Louisiana
Career information
College: LSU
NFL Draft: 1980 / Round: 8 / Pick: 214
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Miami Dolphins ( 1980 1983)
Career highlights and awards
TDINT     48–63
Yards     8,558
Passer rating     65.7
Stats at

David Eugene Woodley (October 25, 1958 – May 4, 2003) was an American football player, a quarterback in the National Football League for the Miami Dolphins (1980–1983), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1984–1985).[1][2][3] He played college football at Louisiana State University.

Early yearsEdit

Born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Woodley was the fifth of seven children of attorney John Woodley and Hazel (Iles) Woodley.[4] He was a three-year starter and all-state quarterback for Byrd High School in Shreveport and graduated in 1976. Woodley played college football at LSU in Baton Rouge under longtime head coach Charlie McClendon, sharing playing time with the more popular Steve Ensminger of Baton Rouge.[5]

In his final college game as a senior in December 1979, he led the Tigers to a 34–10 victory over Wake Forest University in the Tangerine Bowl and was named the game's Most Valuable Player; LSU finished the season at 7–5.

NFL careerEdit

Miami DolphinsEdit

As quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, Woodley is best known as the bridge between the eras of hall of famers Bob Griese and Dan Marino. Despite being an eighth round selection in 1980 NFL draft and initially fourth on the depth chart, he was elected the team MVP for his rookie season in 1980. That year, he set the Dolphins' team record for most pass completions (176) for a rookie quarterback, later broken by Ryan Tannehill in 2012. In 1982, he became one of the few NFL players to score touchdowns passing, running and receiving in an NFL season. Woodley split time with backup Don Strock, or "WoodStrock" as they were referred. Woodley started for the Dolphins in the 1981 playoff game versus the San Diego Chargers. After Miami fell behind 24–0, Strock led the Dolphins back into the game, ultimately won by the Chargers in overtime.

In the strike-shortened season of 1982, Woodley handled the lion's share of the time at quarterback en route to Miami winning the American Football Conference title. The Dolphins went on to face the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. At the time, he was the youngest Super Bowl starting quarterback in NFL history at age 24¼. Despite starting the game well with a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Cefalo, Woodley and the entire offense then struggled, with no completions in eight attempts in the second half. The Redskins won the game 27–17.

In 1983, Woodley was Miami's starting quarterback, but in week five, the underperforming offense prompted coach Don Shula to insert then rookie quarterback, Dan Marino midway through a 17–7 road loss to the New Orleans Saints. By the next week, Marino was named the starter for the remainder of the season.

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

Woodley was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 1983 season to compete with Mark Malone for the starting job for the 1984 season after elbow problems forced Terry Bradshaw to retire after the 1983 season and Cliff Stoudt left for the USFL--infamously after the Steelers passed up local native Marino for Gabriel Rivera (who played in six NFL games before becoming paralyzed in a car accident) in the 1983 NFL Draft.[6] Woodley split the starting quarterback duty with Malone during both the 1984 and 1985 NFL seasons.

Notified by head coach Chuck Noll that he would not be the starter for the upcoming 1986 season,[7][8] Woodley abruptly retired in June,[9] despite being the highest paid player ($500,000) on the Pittsburgh roster.[10] A year later in 1987, the Green Bay Packers acquired Woodley from the Steelers for a draft pick,[7][8] but his stay was short and his playing career officially ended when he was released in late August.[11]

Woodley is one of two quarterbacks in NFL history, along with Ken Stabler, to have a career winning percentage above .600 while also throwing at least 10 more interceptions than touchdowns. Woodley's career record was 34–18–1 (.651), despite throwing 63 interceptions against his 48 career touchdown passes.


After football, Woodley returned to Shreveport and increasingly drank, causing several health problems.[3][5] Married in 1981 to Suzonne Pugh,[4] the couple later divorced.[5] At age 33, he underwent a liver transplant at Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport in March 1992.[12][13][14][15] Eleven years later, Woodley died from complications due to kidney and liver failure on May 4, 2003.[1][2][16] Twenty years after Super Bowl XVII, he became the youngest Super Bowl starting quarterback to die, until the death of Super Bowl XXXIV starter Steve McNair at age 36 in 2009. Woodley was buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in Shreveport, alongside his parents.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wine, Steven (May 7, 2003). "Ex-QB David Woodley dies at age 44". The Hour. Associated Press (Norwalk, Connecticut): p. B4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sports people: David Woodley". Beaver County Times (Pennsylvania): p. D2. May 7, 2003.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hyde, Dave (June 28, 1992). "A scrambling quarterback". Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Marks, Michele (March 20, 1983). "Michele will tell: David Woodley". Spartanburg Herald-Journal (South Carolina): p. 16, TV.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Merrill, Elizabeth (January 23, 2008). "Super Bowl XVII starter Woodley's life drifted after football". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  6. Robinson, Alan (October 1, 1984). "Woodley sees light away from Bradshaw shadow". Gainesville Sun. Associated Press (Florida): p. 7, Sports Extra.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sauerberg, George (July 1, 1987). "Packers get quarterback Woodley for draft pick". Milwaukee Sentinel: p. 1, part 2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Woodley continues comeback with Packers". Observer-Reporter. Associated Press (Washington, Pennsylvania): p. B2. August 1, 1987.
  9. Cook, Ron (June 2, 1986). "Woodley 'done with football' wife says". Pittsburgh Press: p. C1.
  10. "Woodlwy's wife says he's retiring". St. Petersburg Evening Independent. wire reports (Florida): p. 2C. June 4, 1986.
  11. "Packers cut Woodley". Pittsburgh Press. wire services: p. C3. September 1, 1987.
  12. Dulac, Gerry (April 1, 1993). "After given eight weeks to live, Woodley 'great' with new liver". Pittsburgh Press: p. D1.
  13. "Woodley gets life-saving liver". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. wire reports (Florida): p. 3C. April 1, 1992.
  14. "Woodley improves after transplant". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. local and wire dispatches: p. 23. April 2, 1993.
  15. Joseph, Dave (April 3, 1992). "'Almost a miracle'". Allegheny Times. Knight-Ridder newspapers: p. B2.
  16. Bikoff, Ken (May 7, 2003). "Woodley's death sad but powerful". Pro Football Weekly. Archived from the original on July 2, 2005. Retrieved September 1, 2007.

External linksEdit


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