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Nov. 9, 2001

by Scott Barbee

During his time as a defensive lineman at Virginia and in the NFL, Jeff Lageman showcased a tireless work ethic. Now that he is retired, he has applied that same work ethic to broadcasting and helping children.

A three-year letterman, Lageman fortified the defense from his linebacker position. He led the team in tackles in both 1987, with 89, and in 1988, with 117, which ranks twelfth in school history for a single season. As a senior captain in 1988, Lageman gained All-ACC honors and was selected to play in the 1988 Blue-Gray Classic and the 1989 East-West Shrine Game.

His greatest moment as a Cavalier came when the team went to the 1987 All-American Bowl. In the game, Virginia defeated Brigham Young University 22-16.

“That win was very sweet because at that point in the program we knew we weren’t going to get many opportunities to go to a bowl game,” he says.

Right at the same time he was graduating with an economics degree in 1989, Lageman was taken in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He played there for six years, and made the playoffs in 1991, which cost him his hair.

“I told the guys that if we got to the playoffs, then they could have my hair, which was pretty long at the time,” says Lageman. “We needed a boost and that was how I showed that I was dedicated to that team.”

Lageman then became part of the first free agent class in Jacksonville Jaguars history when he signed with the team in 1995. He played four successful years with the Jaguars, which included a run deep into the playoffs in 1997 in which they beat Buffalo Bills and #1 seeded Denver Broncos, and then lost a squeaker to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.

“That was an amazing run,” says Lageman. “We got hot right at the end of the season and it carried over to the playoffs.”

He finished his career as a Jaguar after the 1998 season, finishing with 47 career sacks, 12 forced fumbles, and an interception.

Still living in Jacksonville, Lageman’s life is filled with a mix of work, public service, and time in the outdoors. Annually, he helps run a football clinic for the children on the Navajo reservation out in the west.

“It’s dressed up as a football clinic, but it is more of about leadership. The kids out there on the reservation see people on television all the time, but they never get to see any of them in person,” says Lageman, “so we go out there and set a good example for them and run a little football camp.”

He has also done work for the Children’s Miracle Network.

“We try to raise money and raise awareness not just for the miracle kids but for the medical technology and the services that we have in our own communities for all of our children.”

On top of that, Lageman has taken a job as an analyst for Fox Television Football.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Lageman of the 8-plus games he does a year. “It’s not even something that I really intended to get involved in. When I was in New York I did a radio program and then when I came down [to Jacksonville] I was asked to be a guest on a football show on the local CBS affiliate, and after the first show they asked me back for a second. Then after the second, they asked me to be a co-host.”

Lageman did the CBS show for four years, but now has switched over to the Jaguars’ Monday night show, which was his previous competition.

Above all of that, Lageman says, “My big interest and love is the outdoors.”

He has been a big hunter and fisher ever since growing up in northern Virginia. Now you can see him as a guest on outdoor shows on ESPN and other channels. Even while Lageman was at the University, he couldn’t give up his hobby.

“One of the great memories that I have was being able to experience [director of sports medicine] Joe Geick’s farm up near Monticello Mountain,” says Lageman. “He was nice enough to let me spend some time up there.”

And when couldn’t get to the farm, Lageman says that he and his friends used to dress in all black and sneak on Birdwood Golf Course and fish the ponds.

Lageman says that his time at the University has proved invaluable.

“The one thing about the University of Virginia, as far as the academic side of it, is that the onus of doing you studies and preparing for tests is on your own. You’re on the honor system, and once you are done at UVa and you have a job, you’re on the honor system to get everything done or else you have to face the consequences. The preparation, study habits, and work ethic that I developed at Virginia helped me get to where I am today.”

He says he still uses all those skills that he picked up at the University when he must study teams for his Sunday broadcasts on Fox, not to mention all the tape he had to watch and reading he had to do when he was a player.

He and his wife have a new member to their family, one year old Dylan. Lageman hopes that his son can also benefit from the University like he himself did.

“The experience of the Univeristy, not so much just athletically, but academically as well was so helpful in my development. I just hope that he can follow the same trail and go to the University too.”

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