Jerry Mertens (born January 5, 1936 in Racine, Wisconsin) is a former American football 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 career was 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 reminder 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 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 had four grandchildren (Jamie, Stephanie, Scott, and Gregory) in the San Francisco bay area. He also eventually became president of the NFL Alumni Association, a position he held for over 10 years.
By Dean Hanley
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