The NFL Alumni Northern California Chapter is pleased to announce chapter co-founder Jerry Mertens as our Alumnus of the Month for August!
Jerry Mertens was born January 5, 1936 in Racine, Wisconsin. He is a former cornerback who played eight seasons in the National Football League for the San Francisco 49ers.
Mertens, a high-school standout at Racine Saint Catherine’s, was named to the NFL Pro Bowl in 1958, his rookie season. Mertens was officially a member of the 49ers during the 1966 season, although his playing days were over. Jerry ended his own career when he delivered a bone crushing hit to Jim Taylor for a six-yard loss, which resulted in him breaking his neck. He was forced to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the game. The doctors had failed in finding the fractured bones, until the next day when he had awoken from chronic pain in his neck. He spent nine months in a full body cast, but eventually had a full recovery. After retiring at the age of 30, Mertens settled into a career as a fertilizer broker and most importantly for us, working for kids’ programs as a member of the NFL Alumni.
He and his wife Karen also helped raise his three children – Gregory, Debbie and Lauri – and now have four grandchildren (Jamie, Stephanie, Scott, and Gregory) in the San Francisco bay area. Jerry was one of the founding fathers of the San Francisco Chapter of NFL Alumni, which evolved over time into the current NFL Alumni chapter for all of Northern California. Jerry proudly served three times as elected president of our chapter, a position he held for over 10 years. Please join us in honoring Jerry as our Alumnus of the Month!