Trent Dilfer

American football player, analyst and coach (born 1972)

Trent Dilfer
Dilfer with the 49ers in November 2007
Current position
TitleHead coach
ConferenceThe American
Annual salary$1.3 million[1]
Biographical details
Born (1972-03-13) March 13, 1972 (age 52)
Santa Cruz, California, U.S.
Alma materCalifornia State University, Fresno
Playing career
1990–1993Fresno State
1994–1999Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2000Baltimore Ravens
2001–2004Seattle Seahawks
2005Cleveland Browns
2006–2007San Francisco 49ers
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
2019–2022Lipscomb Academy (TN)
Head coaching record
Overall4–8 (college)
44–10 (high school)
Accomplishments and honors
As a player
NFL record
  • Longest passing completion in playoffs: 96

Trent Farris Dilfer (born March 13, 1972) is an American football coach and former player who is the head football coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Dilfer played as a quarterback for 14 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He achieved his greatest professional success as the starting quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2000.

Dilfer played college football for the Fresno State Bulldogs, winning the Sammy Baugh Trophy as a junior. He was selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1994 NFL Draft. He spent his first six seasons with Tampa Bay, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1997, but was released due to inconsistent play. Dilfer signed with the Ravens in 2000 as a backup before becoming the team's starter midway through the year, which concluded with the franchise's first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XXXV. Despite the championship, Dilfer was not re-signed by the Ravens, becoming the first starting quarterback to be released after a Super Bowl win. His next four seasons were spent primarily as a backup with the Seattle Seahawks and he had short stints with the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers before retiring in 2008.

Shortly after announcing his retirement, Dilfer was hired by ESPN as an NFL analyst, a position he held until 2017.[2] He is also the head coach of the quarterback camp Elite 11.[3] Dilfer became the head football coach at UAB in 2023.[4]

Early life

Dilfer attended Aptos High School in Aptos, California.

College career

Dilfer attended Fresno State, starting at quarterback for 2+12 seasons. Dilfer helped Fresno State win or share the conference title for three straight seasons and started in two bowl games. In his junior season, Dilfer led the nation in pass efficiency en route to being named the WAC Offensive Player of the Year. He also set the NCAA record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception (271) that stood until 2007, when Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson broke it. He then declared himself eligible for the 1994 NFL Draft, forgoing his senior season.[5] He also won the Sammy Baugh Trophy for top collegiate passer.

College statistics

Fresno State Bulldogs
Season Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Yds TD Int QB Rating Yds TD
1992 188 360 3,000 21 14 133.7 90 2
1993 254 396 3,799 30 5 167.2 1
Career 442 754 6,799 51 19 151.2 3

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span Wonderlic
6 ft 3+14 in
(1.91 m)
228 lb
(103 kg)
32+14 in
(0.82 m)
9+58 in
(0.24 m)
All values from NFL Combine[7]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dilfer's professional football career began when he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with their first pick in the 1994 NFL Draft (sixth overall, and the second quarterback taken in the draft, after Heath Shuler and ahead of Perry Klein)[8] after his junior season at Fresno State.[9] When the Indianapolis Colts passed on Dilfer in the draft in favor of Trev Alberts, ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. heavily criticized their decision. This led to Colts GM Bill Tobin responding on television by asking "Who in the hell is Mel Kiper" and challenged Kiper's credentials to evaluate the draft. This exchange is often shown as one of the classic moments of ESPN draft coverage.[citation needed]

Enlisted as the starter in his second year, after seeing spot duty in his rookie year, Dilfer struggled during what was still a dark period for the Buccaneers as a whole, when in 1995 he threw only 4 touchdown passes but 18 interceptions. The following year, he showed moderate improvement by upping his touchdown production, but failed to improve his turnover numbers (recording a career-high 19).

The following season, a year that Tampa's offense was aided by the arrival of rookie Warrick Dunn and the emergence of Mike Alstott, Dilfer was the first Tampa Bay quarterback to ever go to the Pro Bowl, which some say was a reward for a highly efficient season in the Buccaneers' limited offense. In the first 12 games of that year Dilfer passed for 2213 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. However, Dilfer's performance was perceived to decline in his last four games. In the playoffs, the Buccaneers defeated their NFC Central rivals, the Detroit Lions, before losing to their long-time division rivals, and defending Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers. While with the Bucs, he won more games than any quarterback in franchise history and took the team to their first playoff game in 15 years.

In a 1995 game against Minnesota at the Metrodome, Dilfer was ejected for throwing a punch at Vikings defensive lineman John Randle. In NFL history, he was the only quarterback by far to be ejected.

Dilfer threw for 21 touchdowns with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in both the 1997 and the 1998 NFL seasons. In the 1996–1999 NFL seasons, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dilfer averaged 2,729 yards a season and had a total of 58 touchdowns. His inconsistent play continued and in Week 10 of 1999, he was injured severely, missing the rest of the season. In 76 games as a starter for Tampa Bay, he went 38-38, with his wins being the most for a Buccaneer quarterback.[10]

Baltimore Ravens

Dilfer signed with the Ravens on March 8, 2000, and became the backup for Tony Banks. After two straight losses and four straight weeks without an offensive touchdown, the Ravens replaced Banks with Dilfer. The Ravens would lose their third straight game and fail to score a touchdown for the fifth straight week. It would be the last time the Ravens would lose a game that season, or go without a touchdown. The Ravens finished the season winning seven straight to earn a wild card berth at 12–4. The 7–1 run also gave Dilfer a 45–39 record as a starter at that point.

During the playoffs, Dilfer went 3–0, and the Ravens advanced to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida to meet the New York Giants. The Ravens won their first Super Bowl title in a 34–7 blowout, which saw Dilfer complete 12 of 25 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown. Although one of Dilfer's passes was intercepted by linebacker Jessie Armstead and returned for a touchdown, the play was negated due to a holding penalty against the Giants.[11] The Los Angeles Times described Dilfer as a game manager quarterback for the Ravens that season: He "wasn't elite, but he didn't make costly mistakes, and was supported by a dominant defense."[12] Dilfer wasn't re-signed by the Ravens, making him the only quarterback to be let go after winning a Super Bowl. He stated later that they told him he was their third choice after Brad Johnson (who signed with Tampa Bay) and Elvis Grbac, who signed with Baltimore.

In a 2021 interview, Dilfer acknowledged that he still felt bitter about the Ravens moving on from him, stating he played through injury during the season, most notably in his shoulder alongside osteitis pubis, an inflammation near the pubic bone and hip flexor muscle. He also criticized his successor, Elvis Grbac, who posted lower statistics with the Ravens.[13]

Seattle Seahawks

On August 3, 2001, the Seattle Seahawks signed Dilfer as a backup quarterback to starter Matt Hasselbeck. Dilfer saw his first action when Hasselbeck injured his groin in week three against the Oakland Raiders. Dilfer started and won the next two games, before being replaced by a healthy Hasselbeck. Dilfer came on in a relief role against the Washington Redskins, when Hasselbeck struggled. He continued as the starter when Hasselbeck suffered a separated left shoulder. Dilfer started the final two games of the season, and with Seattle in the playoff hunt, won them both. He ended the season by throwing five touchdowns and two interceptions in two three-point victories. The Seahawks' AFC (they were still in the AFC in 2001) wild-card hopes ended when the Ravens (Dilfer's former team the year before) beat the Minnesota Vikings 19–3 on Monday Night Football. At the end of the season, Dilfer's passer rating was 92.0 and he had won 15 straight starts with a 4-0 record with Seattle.

Partially because the Seattle Seahawks' starting quarterback, Hasselbeck, was coming off a season where he went 5–7 as a starter and threw eight interceptions and seven touchdowns, Dilfer was re-signed by the team to a four-year deal on March 1, and was slated as the starter heading into training camp. However, in an exhibition game against Indianapolis, Dilfer sprained his medial collateral ligament in his right knee. With the injury, Dilfer lost the starting job to Hasselbeck. Dilfer returned to the starting position against the Arizona Cardinals with a Week 2 13–24 loss. On October 28, 2002, in Week 8, he suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon against the Dallas Cowboys on the synthetic turf at Texas Stadium. At that point in the season, the Seahawks were 2-5.

In 2003, Dilfer played sparingly in a relief role and was primarily used to mentor Hasselbeck.

In 2004, Dilfer started in only two games, and won them both: November 28 versus the Miami Dolphins, 24–17, and December 26 versus the Arizona Cardinals, 24–21.

Hasselbeck and Dilfer remain close friends since their time together in Seattle.

Cleveland Browns

In March 2005, Dilfer was traded to the Cleveland Browns where it was hoped he would mentor rookie quarterback Charlie Frye. Naming Dilfer the starting quarterback for the 2005 NFL season, the idea was to work Frye into the lineup under the veteran's tutelage, but a behind-the-scenes dispute with then-offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon resulted in Dilfer's wanting out of Cleveland almost immediately. In his lone season for the Browns, Dilfer passed for 2,321 yards and 11 touchdowns, throwing 12 interceptions and fumbling 9 times (losing 7 of those). His passer rating was 76.9. He did however have the highest completion percentage of his career at 59.8 percent. The Browns would fall to 6–10.

San Francisco 49ers

In May 2006, Dilfer was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, this time to serve as a mentor to the 2005 first round draft pick Alex Smith. In return, the 49ers gave the Browns Ken Dorsey and a 7th round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.[14] A close friend of former 49ers quarterback John Brodie, Dilfer received permission from Brodie and the 49ers to wear his retired number 12 in support of Brodie eventually going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On September 30, 2007, Dilfer took over from Alex Smith following Smith's grade three shoulder separation. He would go on to start for the 49ers in games against the Seahawks, Ravens and Giants before conceding the starting spot back to Smith. However, with Smith's effectiveness in question coming back from injury, coach Mike Nolan announced on November 14, 2007, that Dilfer would be the starting quarterback. Dilfer would go on to start in games against the Rams, in victory over the Cardinals in overtime, and against the Panthers. On December 9 in a home game against the Vikings, Dilfer suffered a head injury resulting in a concussion while diving for a 1st down on 4th and 2 that took him out of the game and subsequently the season. He was succeeded by third string backup Shaun Hill.


Dilfer officially announced his retirement on July 9, 2008. Although he had suffered an Achilles tendon injury playing basketball earlier in the off-season with his wife, Dilfer stated that he was planning to retire anyway.[15]

In 2009, Dilfer was inducted into the Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame.[16]

NFL career statistics

Won the Super Bowl
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team Games Passing
GP GS Record Cmp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rtg
1994 TB 5 2 0–2 38 82 46.3 433 5.3 1 6 36.3
1995 TB 16 16 7–9 224 415 54.0 2,774 6.7 4 18 60.1
1996 TB 16 16 6–10 267 482 55.4 2,859 5.9 12 19 64.8
1997 TB 16 16 10–6 217 386 56.2 2,555 6.6 21 11 82.8
1998 TB 16 16 8–8 225 429 52.4 2,729 6.4 21 15 74.0
1999 TB 10 10 7–3 146 244 59.8 1,619 6.6 11 11 75.8
2000 BAL 11 8 7–1 134 226 59.3 1,502 6.6 12 11 76.6
2001 SEA 6 4 4–0 73 122 59.8 1,014 8.3 7 4 92.0
2002 SEA 6 6 2–4 94 168 56.0 1,182 7.0 4 6 71.1
2003 SEA 5 0 4 8 50.0 31 3.9 1 1 59.9
2004 SEA 5 2 2–0 25 58 43.1 333 5.7 1 3 46.1
2005 CLE 11 11 4–7 199 333 59.8 2,321 7.0 11 12 76.9
2006 SF 0 0 DNP
2007 SF 7 6 1–5 113 219 51.6 1,166 6.3 7 12 55.1
Career 130 113 58–55 1,759 3,172 55.5 20,518 6.5 113 129 70.2


Dilfer joined the NFL Network as a guest analyst in 2006.[17] On September 15, 2007, he appeared on the NFL Network's pregame show.[18] He was the NFL Network's color analyst for the 2008 Senior Bowl as well as a studio analyst during the 2008 NFL playoffs. On July 14, 2008, Dilfer signed on as an NFL analyst for ESPN. He joined Brad Nessler to call the second game of the network's Monday Night Football doubleheader on September 13 of that year.[19] Dilfer also coined the phrase "turned a stinky sandwich into an ice cream cone," which means that a player has turned a potentially negative play into a positive one.[20] During his tenure with ESPN Dilfer presented a segment called "Dilfer's Dimes", which featured highlight passes. ESPN dismissed Dilfer in a cost-cutting move in April 2017, replacing him with Rex Ryan.[21]

Dilfer also was a football analyst for Fox Sports 1, appearing regularly on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

Coaching career

In 2019, Dilfer became head football coach at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.[22] In his first year, the team went 5–5 and got knocked out in the semifinals. The next season in 2020, Dilfer went 8–2 and led the Lipscomb Academy Mustangs to the 2020 Division II Class AA State Championship game against CPA (Christ Presbyterian Academy). They played the championship game on December 3, 2020, in Cookeville, TN, at Tennessee Tech University. The Mustangs lost 35–28. In 2021, the Mustangs finished 13–1, including one win by forfeit, and defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy, 27–0, in the Division II Class AA State Championship game. In 2022, the Mustangs finished 13-0 and again defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy with a score of 42-0 to win their second straight Division II Class AA State Championship.

On November 30, 2022, Dilfer was named the head football coach of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), his first coaching job of any type at the collegiate level.[23]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
UAB Blazers (American Athletic Conference) (2023–present)
2023 UAB 4–8 3–5 T–8th
2024 UAB 0–0 0–0
UAB: 4–8 3–5
Total: 4–8

High school

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Lipscomb Academy Mustangs () (2019–2022)
2019 Lipscomb Academy 7–6 2–2 3rd
2020 Lipscomb Academy 11–3 4–0 1st
2021 Lipscomb Academy 13–1 5–0 1st
2022 Lipscomb Academy 13–0 5–0 1st
Lipscomb Academy: 44–10 16–2
Total: 44–10
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Personal life

Dilfer resides with his family in Birmingham, Alabama. He is married to Cassandra Dilfer, a former Fresno State swimmer, and they have four children together. Their only son died of heart disease at the age of five on April 27, 2003. All three surviving daughters are or were college volleyball setters—the oldest, Maddie, played at Notre Dame and Pepperdine; middle daughter Tori played at TCU and Louisville; and youngest daughter Delaney completed her freshman season at Lipscomb in 2021.[24] and then went on to have a successful volleyball setting career at Liberty University.[25]

On June 2, 2003, Dilfer made his first public comments regarding his family's loss and, still grieving, openly wept. Aptos High School, Dilfer's alma mater, named their football field Trevin Dilfer Field.[26]

On a broadcast of the Cardinals and Titans preseason game in 2012, Dilfer admitted he weighed 265 lbs and was drinking himself to sleep during his tenure with the Seahawks. This was in regard to losing his son and how Matt Hasselbeck helped him to recover.[27]

Dilfer is a Christian. He has said, “Trent Dilfer has been saved by Jesus Christ. And all of that other stuff really doesn’t matter. That’s where my value comes from, and that’s why I can handle being criticized in the media. That’s why I can handle people calling radio shows and lying about me. That’s why I can handle some of the adverse situations I face, and that’s why I can handle success.”[28]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trent Dilfer.



  1. ^ "UAB Head Coach Trent Dilfer's Career Record And Contract". June 21, 2023.
  2. ^ Drape, Joe; Barnes, Brooks (April 26, 2017). "A Struggling ESPN Lays Off Many On-Air Personalities". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  3. ^ NFL Network (September 13, 2017), The Top High School Quarterbacks Compete for a Spot on the Elite 11 | NFL Network, retrieved January 11, 2018
  4. ^ Scarborough, Alex (November 30, 2022). "New UAB coach Trent Dilfer: CFP a 'giant mountain,' but one we should talk about". Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  5. ^ Official Site of the San Francisco 49ers – TE Roster Archived May 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Wonderlic scores of 2010 NFL starting quarterbacks and NFL draft QB prospects". Retrieved October 19, 2021.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Trent Dilfer, Combine Results, QB - Fresno State (CA)". Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  8. ^ "Scramblin' Man : Quarterback Perry Klein Has Been Vilified for Switching Schools--But That Was Before the NFL Called". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 1994.
  9. ^ "1994 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved March 31, 2023.
  10. ^
  11. ^ " wire reports". National Football League. January 29, 2001. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  12. ^ Farmer, Sam (January 28, 2012). "In the NFL, it's (almost) all about the quarterback". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  13. ^ Michael David Smith (January 28, 2021). "Trent Dilfer still bitter that Ravens chose Elvis Grbac over him". NBC Sports. Archived from the original on February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  14. ^ "TSN : NFL – Canada's Sports Leader". August 31, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  15. ^ "QB Dilfer Announces Retirement". The Washington Post. July 9, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame | Home". Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame | Home. Archived from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "Hawks Fun Notes: Wistrom's tribute comes up short". The Seattle Times. January 21, 2006.
  18. ^ Ludwig, Chick. "Dayton, Ohio, news and information". SpringfieldNewsSun. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  19. ^ Hiestand, Michael (July 26, 2010). "Joe Theismann, Notre Dame telecasts, a possible fit". USA Today..
  20. ^ "Analysts' reaction: Scarred Tony Romo now a trustworthy warrior". The Dallas Morning News. September 26, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2020..
  21. ^ Raissman, Bob (April 26, 2017). ESPN now ruled by the Bean Counters as struggling World Wide Leader deals with massive subscriber loss. New York Daily News. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  22. ^ Kreager, Tom (January 18, 2019). "Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer named next Lipscomb Academy football coach". The Tennessean. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  23. ^ Kreager, Tom (November 30, 2022). "UAB hires ex-NFL QB Trent Dilfer as next head coach". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  24. ^ Lee, Dana (December 9, 2021). "How Louisville's Tori Dilfer willed – and worked – her way to the brink of history-making perfection". Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  25. ^ "Delaney Dilfer - 2023 - Women's Volleyball". Liberty University. Retrieved October 3, 2023.
  26. ^ "Aptos field to be named after late son of NFL pro Dilfer". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  27. ^ Davis, Nate. "Hasselbeck: 'Blessing' to Locker, 'best dude' ever to Dilfer." USA Today, August 24, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  28. ^ May, Aaron (October 18, 2012). "From the Archives - Trent Dilfer". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  • v
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Head football coaches of the American Athletic Conference
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Fresno State Bulldogs starting quarterbacks
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note: program suspended in 2015 and the team practiced in 2016 but did not play with all players redshirted. Clark remained coach.

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