Dan Jilek
No. 51
Personal information
Born:(1953-12-03)December 3, 1953
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
Died:March 6, 2002(2002-03-06) (aged 48)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Stevenson
NFL draft:1976 / Round: 4 / Pick: 109
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Fumble recoveries:5
Player stats at PFR

Daniel Douglas Jilek (December 3, 1953 – March 6, 2002) was an American football linebacker and defensive end. He played college football for the Michigan Wolverines (1973–1975) and professional football for the Buffalo Bills (1976–1979).

Early years

Jilek was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1953.[1] He attended Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where he played football, baseball, and basketball. In football, he played at the halfback and linebacker positions and led the team in both touchdowns and tackles.[2] Jilek was posthumously inducted into Adlai E. Stevenson High School's athletic hall of fame as part of the inaugural class in 2023.[3]

University of Michigan

Jilek enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1972 and played college football at the defensive end position for Bo Schembechler's Michigan Wolverines football teams in 1973, 1974, and 1975. During Jilek's three seasons with the team, the Wolverines compiled a 28–3–3 record and gave up an averageof only 8.0 points per game. As a senior, Jilek was selected as a first-team defensive end on the 1975 All-Big Ten Conference football team,[4][5][6] and a first-team Academic All-American.[7]

Buffalo Bills

Jilek was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round (109th overall pick) of the 1976 NFL Draft.[8][9] As a rookie in 1976, he started 14 games for the Bills, intercepted two passes, recovered three fumbles and was the Bills' rookie of the year. He played for the Bills as a linebacker from 1976 to 1979, appearing in 58 games, 29 of them as a starter.[1]

Later years

After retiring from football, Jilek operated an insurance company. He died in 2002 at age 48 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[10][11]

A 5k fun run is held each fall to honor Dan Jilek's memory and to support his commitment to improve youth via athletics.


  1. ^ a b "Dan Jilek". Pro Football Archives. Retrieved August 21, 2023.
  2. ^ "Meet Dan .. a '9-Letterman'". Detroit Free Press. January 5, 1972. p. 5D – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Szczepaniak, Jonathan. "Stevenson to host inaugural athletic hall of fame induction". Sterling Heights Sentry. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  4. ^ "All-Big Ten selections". The Daily Northwestern. November 26, 1974. p. 13.
  5. ^ "Buckeyes Dominate All-Big Ten Team". Ludington Daily News (UPI story). November 27, 1974. p. 6.
  6. ^ Ed Sainsbury (November 27, 1974). "Many Buckeyes on all Big Ten". The Bryan Times (UPI story). p. 9.
  7. ^ "U-M's Dan Jilek Named Academic All-America". Detroit Free Press. February 12, 1976. p. 8D – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Jilek signs with Bills". The Michigan Daily. June 10, 1976.
  9. ^ "Jilek Is a Positive In the Big Picture". Buffalo Evening News. July 22, 1976. p. 28 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Ex-Bills Linebacker Jilek Dies at Age 48". The Buffalo News. March 10, 2002.
  11. ^ "Former U-M star Jilek dies". The Detroit News. March 10, 2002. p. 12D – via Newspapers.com.