By Michael Reardon
Jeffrey W. Wiley, M.D., ’89
When Jeff Wiley, former Crusaders star quarterback, is asked to recall any football games from his playing days that stand out in his mind, he mentions four: a 1986 game against Army, which Holy Cross won 17-14—solidifying a winning season; another 1986 game in which the Crusaders beat William & Mary 31-7 to win the Lambert Cup; a 1987 game against Villanova—won by Holy Cross 39-6—that was broadcast on ESPN and clinched a perfect 11-0 season for the Crusaders; and his last game in 1988 against Northeastern, which Holy Cross also won 52-30.
Wiley, being a modest man, does not want to talk about his contributions to those wins. Instead he says, “I don’t remember what I did in those games,” and gives his teammates and the coaches the lion’s share of the credit for those phenomenal years in Holy Cross football history.
If Wiley were inclined, he could have mentioned that, as a second-year student, during the Army game, he completed 18 of 28 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown.
Wiley could have also mentioned that, during the Villanova game, he threw for 388 yards, tied a Holy Cross record with 29 pass completions, set an I-AA record for single season completions and tied the single season mark for consecutive games, with 200 yards passing (11). Or that he completed 25 of 35 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown in the William & Mary game.
He might have talked about that last game against Northeastern when he threw for 358 yards—four touchdowns and no interceptions—and finished his career 10th in NCAA history in passing yards and ninth in NCAA history in total offensive yards—and became the holder of 23 Holy Cross football records, five NCAA records and countless awards and honors.
Although he does not like to talk about his outstanding Crusaders football career, the records speak for themselves. Simply put, Jeff Wiley is a legend at Holy Cross.
“My football experience allowed me to find out about Holy Cross,” he says. “The school had the intimacy of a small community. It offered a topnotch education with a high level of sports. The best of both worlds.”
Although Wiley’s football career was a huge success, it was not without tragedy. Following his first year, the entire community was shocked by the sudden death of head football coach Rick Carter.
According to Wiley, Mark Dufner, who succeeded Carter as head football coach, was instrumental in helping the team recover emotionally—and on the field. Coach Dufner proved to be one of Wiley’s biggest influences at Holy Cross.
Wiley made lifelong friends at the College—and, in Concord, N.H., is surrounded by fellow graduates. Three Holy Cross alumni—Stephen J. Fox, M.D., ’78; Douglas J. Moran, M.D., ’76; and Sean J. O’Connor, M.D., ’78—work with Wiley at Concord Orthopaedics, and three other fellow alumni live in his neighborhood.
“Calling Holy Cross a family really epitomizes what it is all about, and it plays a pivotal role in my personal and professional life 20 years later,” Wiley says.
Is there anyone you particularly admire?
My parents, Bill Wiley and Jean Fivecoat, and my family. They always supported me and made sacrifices that allowed me to go to Holy Cross. I hope I can do as good a job as a parent as they did for me.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Any sporting activity. Following the Red Sox and Patriots has been exciting. I like to play golf. I’m involved in my children’s activities.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I specialize in total joint replacement, and in orthopaedics you can see the difference you make in people’s lives. Having them say that you were able to restore their activities is very gratifying.
How would you describe the teams you played on at Holy Cross?
We developed the ability to overcome and show resiliency—to turn adversity into something positive, not just on the football field, but also in life.
Did you ever consider coaching or playing football professionally?
I did consider coaching but found out that it is such a difficult job. I played professional football in Italy at the end of my senior year for the Bologna Towers.
Birthplace: Born at Fort Jackson in South Carolina; grew up in Celina, Ohio
Date of Birth: Feb. 9, 1967
Family: wife, Kathleen; sons, Paul, 9, and Matthew, 4; and daughter, Mary Anne, 7
Profession: Orthopaedic surgeon with Concord Orthopaedics Professional Association in New Hampshire; affiliated with Concord Hospital