Higher Calling

Football letterman and two-time Super Bowl champion Stefen Wisniewski was among a group of impressive Penn Staters that received the 2022 Alumni Achievement Award earlier this year. In his acceptance speech, Wisniewski talked about his strong faith, which has led him to a second career as a pastor, before formally accepting the award from then-Penn State President Dr. Barron.

Stefen Wisniewski possesses an unwavering sense of purpose, which helps explain why there wasn’t any hesitation about his plans following pro ball.

In August 2021, Wisniewski announced his retirement from the NFL, also sharing that the next step in his life is to become a pastor. Wisniewski’s strong faith, evident in his retirement note and video, was also prominent in March, when the Penn State Alumni Association recognized the two-time Super Bowl champion with the Alumni Achievement Award.

A 2010 graduate from the College of Education, Wisniewski was nominated by the Schreyer Honors College, with the Alumni Achievement Award going to alumni 35 years of age and younger for their extraordinary professional accomplishments.

Wisniewski certainly fits that category.

Over the course of a highly successful 10-year NFL career, he starred as an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders after being drafted 48th overall in 2011. He played in three Super Bowls, winning two — LII and LIV with Philadelphia and Kansas City, respectively.

In college, Wisniewski continued a family legacy at Penn State. He was part of the 2008 Big Ten Championship team that played in the 2009 Rose Bowl, and the 2009 Capital One Bowl winning team. He was a first team AFCA all-American 2010, an ESPN Academic All-American in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman” in 2010. Additinally, Wisniewski is an active volunteer for the Schreyer Honors College, appearing on the Following the Gong podcast to mentor Schreyer Scholars.

Also, notably in 2007, Wisniewski was the first true freshman to start along the offensive lineman for Penn State since 1999.

Penn Staters can learn more about Wisniewski at GoPSUsports.com, as his bio begins with: It would be nearly impossible to try and top the Penn State student-athlete experience Stefen Wisniewski has assembled over the past three years. He has maximized his opportunities on the field, in the classroom and in serving others.

You can view Wisniewski’s acceptance speech on the Alumni Association’s YouTube page. As much as his words, Wisniewski’s presence stands out. Humble, articulate, funny. Wisniewski — whose father, Leo, and uncle, Steve, both lettered for the Nittany Lions — was all of that and more.

In the photo below Wisniewski displays his Super Bowl rings, one of which has a Bible verse, Romans 11:36, inscribed on it. In his acceptance speech, Wisniewski explained both the verse itself —

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen

— and the personal meaning the verse has for him. Toward the end of his remarks, Wisniewski said:

“I really believe I came into this world with nothing. I’m going to leave it with nothing. Everything I have while I’m here, I really believe is a gift from God.”

Wisniewski displays the two Super Bowl rings he earned during his NFL career. In addition to the award ceremony in downtown State College at The State Theatre, honorees and their guests enjoyed time together at the Hintz Family Alumni Center.

For more on The Football Letter, including online archives (requires Alumni Association member log-in), click here.

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