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Pete Liske

Sport: Football

Born: May 25, 1942

Town: Plainfield

Peter A. Liske was born May 24, 1942 in Plainfield. Pete was a tall, bright and agile athlete with a strong arm. He was a natural at quarterback, a position he played for Plainfield High in the late 1950s. Penn State recruited actively in Central New Jersey and coach Rip Engle brought Pete to the Nittany Lions in 1959. After red-shirting one year he joined the varsity in 1960 and was the team’s starting signal-caller in 1962 and 1963.

The Nittany Lions were at Top 10 with Pete at quarterback in 1962. He led them to a 9–1 record during the regular season and a berth in the Liberty Bowl. They were upset by Florida 17–7. As a senior, Peter threw for over 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns, and Penn State finished the year ranked 16th in the nation. They had a shot at another Top 10 ranking but lost to Pitt in the final game of the year.

Pete has already been drafted at this point. The NFL and AFL had both claimed im in the spring of 1963. He chose to sign with the New York Titans of the NFL instead of the NFL Eagles. After playing in only four games as a rookie—and with Joe Namath coming into town in 1965, Pete decided to head north and signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

Pete soon developed into one of the top quarterbacks in the CFL. In 1967, as a member of the Calgary Stampeders, he threw for more than 4,400 yards and connected for 40 TD passes to set a new league record. Pete’s record stood for more than 25 years, and he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player. He was just the second Calgary player to earn this honor. In 1968, Pete led the Stampeders to the Grey Cup (Canada’s Super Bowl). He scored one touchdown and threw for another in a 24–21 loss to the Ottawa Rough Riders—who were led by fellow Plainfield High alum Vic Washington.

In 1969, the Denver Broncos signed Pete and he quarterbacked the team for two seasons. He played two more seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971 and 1972 before returning to the CFL for his final three pro seasons. He finished with the British Columbia Lions.

Less than a decade after leaving the game, Pete got back in as an NFL referee and also became a sports administrator with the University of Washington–Seattle. A talented organizer and fundraiser, he eventually found his way back to College Station, where he became director of major gifts for the Penn State athletic department.


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