You might not expect an information systems specialist to moonlight as a semi-professional football player, but that’s exactly what Jeff Warren — a Charleston, WV, based postal employee — does.
So impressive is his talent, the offensive lineman was recently inducted into the West Virginia Minor League Football Hall of Fame along with offensive lineman Christopher "Moose" Huges, quarterback Major Harris, defensive lineman Mark Mason and defensive back Dan Scoville.
“Jeff doesn’t think it’s noteworthy, but I sure do,” said friend and Kentucky counterpart Jereme Haden. “To be inducted into a hall of fame for the entire state is worthy of recognition.”
Warren, who started his postal career in 1993, says he hadn’t played football since he was 12 when he decided to try out for the semi-pro team. “My family moved in November, which was in the middle of football season,” he said. “I came in late, and didn’t expect to get much playing time because I was the new kid in town, so I didn’t play that year.
Jeff Warren, No. 69, West Virginia Blitzin’ Bulldogs.
“I thought about quitting my job in 1997 so I could go back to college full-time, and try to ‘walk on’ the football team at West Virginia Tech,” said Warren. “In retrospect, I’m fortunate I didn’t.”
In 2000, Warren tried out and became an offensive lineman for the New Millennium Titans and went on to play for other semi-pro teams including the West Virginia Blitzin’ Bulldogs, Mountain State Titans, West Virginia Crash and West Virginia Lightning.
Voted league All Star every year from 2003 through 2008, Warren also played in several league and national championship games.
“Semi-pro football tends to have a stigma attached to it,” Warren said.
“There’s a perception that it’s unorganized. To some extent, and in some leagues, that may be true. But I’ve been fortunate enough to play in some very well-organized leagues, and they hold their teams to high standards.
“I’ve lined up across from players who have played at all levels: many from Division 1 college programs, many who should have hung it up in junior high, and a few who have bounced in and out of the NFL” he said. “But every one of us has one thing in common — a love for the game."
Warren says few semi-pro football teams pay their players, so no one plays for the money. “I have seen quite a few players picked up by local arena teams, but the road to playing on Sunday rarely runs that route. Most guys at this level are content just to be playing.
“I regretted not playing while I was in school, so I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to play later in life,” he added. “I’ve played football for the past 10 years — somewhere between 125 -150 games. And I’ve made friends on the football field that I’ll have for life, so being acknowledged among my football peers is flattering and very important to me.”