Vinny Sutherland
No. 14, 25, 87     
Wide Receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1978-04-22) April 22, 1978 (age 41)
Place of birth: West Palm Beach, Florida
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) Weight: 195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
College: Purdue
NFL Draft: 2001 / Round: 5 / Pick: 136
Debuted in 2001 for the San Francisco 49ers
Last played in 2004 for the New York Dragons
Career history
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status: Retired
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2002
Kickoff returns     53
Return yards     1,189
Return Touchdowns     0
Receptions     1
Receiving yards     5
Touchdowns     0
Stats at
Career Arena football statistics
Receptions     7
Yards     82
Touchdowns     2
Stats at

Vincent Joseph Sutherland (born April 22, 1978) is a former professional American football player who played wide receiver for two seasons in the National Football League for the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. He was a standout receiver and kick returner for Purdue University from 1997-2000. He also played for the Arena Football League's New York Dragons. At the time of his graduation in 2001, his 13 receiving touchdowns were a school record for one season. That record was tied in 2002 by John Standeford, and broken in 2004 by Taylor Stubblefield. He also still holds school records for punt return average in a season, punt returns for touchdowns in a season/career, and the longest reception in Purdue history.

Early lifeEdit

Sutherland attended Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach, Florida. There he participated in both football and track and field. As a senior, he averaged better than 34 yards per touch of the ball and finished with 500 yards rushing on 53 carries and 600 yards on 29 receptions. He also played as a defensive back. He scored a total of 14 touchdowns as the Rams finished 9-3, winning a district championship and advanced to quarterfinals of state playoffs. After the season, he was named to the Class 6A second team all-state, first team all-area and made Florida’s Super 11 Team.[1] For Track & Field, Sutherland was all-state and all-county in both junior and senior years. He ran a high school career best 10.4 100m dash in senior season.[2]

College careerEdit

1997 seasonEdit

Sutherland choose to play his continue both his football and track and field career by signing a letter of intent to play for new Purdue Boilermakers head coach, Joe Tiller. He played in all 12 games and started three times as a true freshman. He finished the season ranked third on team with 34 receptions for 357 yards with two touchdowns. His two best games came against Notre Dame and Ball State when he made eight catches. The Notre Dame game also was his best yardage game of the season, as he had career-high 100 receiving yards. Joe Tillers' passing attack, often called "basketball on grass,[3]" specialized in bubble screen pass. Which played well for a smaller receiver like Sutherland. He registered 13 rushing attempts (usually bubble screen that resulted in an official lateral) for 111 yards (fourth on team) with two touchdowns. He also served as the team's punt returner, finishing the season ranked sixth in Big Ten with 9.8-yard punt return average. He also had one kickoff return for 19 yards. He attempted two passes on reverse plays, completing one for 20 yards. He was named a 2nd Team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.[1]

1998 seasonEdit

Sutherland received Purdue’s Most Improved Offensive Player Award for 1999 spring practice. As a sophomore, he played in all 13 games, starting one. He had 31 receptions for 301 yards with three touchdowns as well as nine rushes for 58 yards. He once again served as the team's punter returner, returning 10 punts for 82 yards. He best game of the season came against Indiana, when he caught a career-high two touchdown passes and downed two punts inside Indiana’s 5-yard line. His efforts for the week earned him Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors, as well as Purdue’s Pop Doan Award for special teams.[1]

1999 seasonEdit

30px External video
16px Video of Sutherland's 99 yard touchdown reception

As a junior, Sutherland started all 12 games, and ranked second on team with 698 receiving yards and fourth with 39 receptions, to Chris Daniels, who set a school record in both categories. He also tied for team lead with seven touchdown receptions (also Chris Daniels). He ranked seventh in Big Ten with 58.2 receiving yards per game, and led Big Ten with school-record average of 16.4 yards per punt return, which still stands as the Purdue record for punt return yardage average for one season. His two punt returns for touchdowns were also a Purdue record. His 17.4 yards per punt return during regular season to rank third nationally, and had school-record two punt returns for touchdowns. He also caught a 99 yard TD pass from quarterback Drew Brees in a game against Northwestern, which is still the longest pass in NCAA history.[1] After the season he was named an honorable mention All-Big Ten by media.

2000 seasonEdit

As a senior, Sutherland started 11 games, missing one game with an injury. He was still able to lead Purdue in receptions (72), receiving yards (1,014), touchdowns (14), all-purpose yards (1,760) and scoring (84).[4][5] His regular season numbers were enough to make him a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, the nations top receiver.[6] His play also assisted the Boilermakers to win the Big Ten conference during the regular season, which allowed them to be invited to the 2001 Rose Bowl against the Washington Huskies.[7] Purdue would go on to lose the game 34-24, but Sutherland had two touchdown receptions in the game, tying a Rose Bowl record.[8] He went on to be named first team all-Big Ten as a wide receiver and second team all Big Ten as a returner. At the time of his graduation, his 13 receiving touchdowns were a school record for one season. That record was tied in 2002 by John Standeford, and broken in 2004 by Taylor Stubblefield. He also holds school records for punt return average in a season, punt returns for touchdowns in a season/career, and the longest reception in Purdue history.



    Receiving   Rushing   Passing   Kickoff Returns   Punt Returns
Season Team GS GP Rec Yds Avg TD Long Att Yds TD Att Comp Yds TD INT Att Yds Avg TD Long Att Yds Avg TD Long
1997 Purdue 3 12 34 357 10.5 2 38 13 111 2 2 1 20 0 0 1 19 19 0 19 15 147 9.8 0 23
1998 Purdue 1 13 31 301 9.7 3 30 9 58 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 0 10 82 8.2 0 21
1999 Purdue 12 12 39 698 17.9 7 99 18 163 0 1 1 12 1 0 1 13 13.0 0 13 18 296 16.4 2 66
2000 Purdue 11 11 72 1,014 14.1 13 68 10 52 1 2 1 5 1 0 22 535 24.3 0 51 16 159 9.9 0 39
Totals 27 48 176 2,370 13.5 25 99 50 384 3 5 3 37 2 0 24 567 23.6 0 51 59 684 11.6 2 66
  • Numbers in Bold are Purdue school records

Professional careerEdit


Prior to the 2001 NFL Draft, Sutherland was projected to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round by He was rated as the eighteenth-best wide receiver in the draft.[10] He was invited to the 2001 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he posted the following numbers during his workouts:

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
5 ft 8.5 in 192 lb 4.48 s 1.58 s 2.59 s 32.5 in

Atlanta FalconsEdit

Sutherland was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 5th round (136th overall).[11] He was expected to replace Tim Dwight,[12] who had been the team's kickoff and punt returner, but failed to make the team out of the preseason and was cut in August.[13]

San Francisco 49ersEdit

Sutherland was quickly signed in September 2001 by the San Francisco 49ers.[14] The 49ers were also looking for return help, and used Sutherland as the primary return man for both kickoffs and punts.[15] For the season, he returned 50 kickoffs for 1,140 yards (a 49ers rookie record[16]) and 21 punts for 147 yards with no touchdowns. He saw limited action playing as a wide receiver as he only had one catch for 5 yards, and added one carry for 16 yards.[17] In the offseason, he was involved in a car accident, along with Kevin Curtis and Josh Shaw. Sutherland was arrested and charged with both driving under the influence of alcohol and a felony hit-and-run after an early-morning single-car accident in Saratoga, California.[18] None of the players were seriously injured. Sutherland came back to camp the following fall,[19] but was released on August 27 after suffering a hamstring injury.[20]

Chicago BearsEdit

After he was let go by the 49ers, Sutherland quickly caught on with the Chicago Bears[21] Sutherland didn't play until his 4th week with the team, when he returned 3 kickoffs in a game against the Detroit Lions, for an average of 16.3 yards a return.[22] He was released 4 days later.[23]

Return to San Francisco 49ersEdit

The 49ers re-signed Sutherland on December 31, 2002,[24] but he did not appear in any games.

New York DragonsEdit

In 2004, Sutherland signed with the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. Sutherland appeared in the team's first 3 games, grabbing 7 passes for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 2 carries for 2 yards.[25] His arena football days were short lived, as he was released on February 23.[26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "#14 Vinny Sutherland". Purdue University. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  2. "Vinny Sutherland". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  3. "Will Purdue return to 'basketball on grass?'". Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  4. "2011 Purdue Football Information Guide". Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  5. "2000 Purdue football stats". Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  6. "Sutherland Semifinalist For Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  7. David Wharton (January 2, 2001). "Huskies hang on to win Rose Bowl". Los Angelos Times.,0,809214.story. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
  8. "Rose Bowl 2001". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  9. "Vinny Sutherland". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Vinny Sutherland, DS #18 WR, Purdue". Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  11. "2001 NFL Draft results". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  12. "Falcons replacing Dwight". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  13. "Falcons - 10 Gone". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  14. Kevin Lynch (September 6, 2001). "49ers Preview / Climbing from the Depths / Young team has solid first-stringers -- but little else". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  15. Nancy Gay (October 6, 2001). "49ers' special-teams formula potent". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  16. "Vinny Sutherland Re-Signs With 49ers". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  17. "Vinny Sutherland". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  18. Brian Murphy (May 21, 2002). "49ers' Sutherland charged in accident". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  19. Scott Linesburgh (July 23, 2002). "49ers stick by Sutherland". San Francisco Notebook. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  20. "Rattay, 49ers impressive in victory". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  21. John Mullin (October 4, 2002). "Bears sign returner Sutherland". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  22. Adam Caldarelli (October 21, 2002). "No easy answer to Bears' problems". Chicago Tribune.,0,3229983.story. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  23. John Mullin (October 26, 2002). "Starting days may be over". Chicago Tribune.,0,7847009.story. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  24. Kevin Lynch (January 3, 2003). "Sutherland re-signed to return kicks". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
  25. "Vinny Sutherland". Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  26. "New York Dragons Team Transactions". Retrieved 2011-11-11.

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