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PROVO, Utah (Aug. 13, 2007) -- Their careers at BYU were separated by nearly a dozen years; however, their list of accomplishments and accolades continue to line the pages of college football record books. Two of college football's all-time greatest quarterbacks, Gifford Nielsen and Ty Detmer, will be honored together on Saturday, Sept. 1 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The No. 14 jersey, worn by both Nielsen and Detmer, will be retired during halftime of the Cougars' season-opener against Arizona.
"Having your jersey retired at BYU is the highest honor given by the BYU Athletics Department," BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe said. "It is reserved for the greatest student-athletes who distinguished themselves in athletic competition, in the classroom and in the community. Gifford and Ty were tremendous athletes who were instrumental in establishing the great tradition of BYU football. Equally important, they have been great ambassadors for the University and all it represents."
Throughout the history of BYU football, dating back to 1922, only three jerseys have ever been retired. Eldon "The Phantom" Fortie's No. 40 jersey, along with Marion Probert's No. 81 jersey and Steve Young's No. 8 jersey all hang from the pressbox at Edwards Stadium.
"Having number 81, number 40, number 8 and now number 14 hanging from the pressbox at Edwards Stadium will be a constant reminder of the incredible football tradition we have here at BYU," head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Gifford and Ty are two of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history, and to have their jerseys retired is not only a fitting tribute to their accomplishments as players, but also it is an appropriate way for our program to recognize two outstanding individuals."
Nielsen, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and recipient of the prestigious NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, passed for over 5,800 yards and collected 55 touchdowns throughout his career. Earning All-America honors in 1976, Nielsen led the NCAA in touchdown completions, ranked second in total offense and helped the Cougars to their first-ever national ranking. After what appeared to be a career-ending injury during his senior season, Nielsen went on to play six years for the Houston Oilers and remains the last quarterback to lead the team to the AFC finals. Nielsen and his wife, Wendy, are the parents of six children and reside in Houston.
Detmer, the winner of the 1990 Heisman Trophy, set nearly every passing record ever imagined during his time in Provo. A two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner, Detmer set 62 records during his career at BYU, including the NCAA record for career passing yards with 15,031. He was a consensus All-American in 1990 as the nation's leading passer and earned his second consensus All-American title in 1991 after leading the nation in total offense. He still holds the NCAA record for career touchdown completions with 121. Detmer played 14 seasons in the NFL and currently resides with his wife, Kim, and four daughters in Austin, Texas.
The University has established the following criteria in order for a former student-athlete's jersey to be retired. The individual must have been a First Team All-American; a recipient of a major national award; a University graduate; achieved significant athletic, civic or religious accomplishments after graduation from BYU; a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or other religious affiliation and a 15-year period must have past since the individual finished his or her athletic career at BYU.