Joseph Heath Shuler

Joseph Heath Shuler, (1971- )

Member of the United States House of Representatives

An American businessman, former NFL quarterback, and former U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district from 2007 to 2013. He was a member of the Democratic Party and the Blue Dog Coalition. In the 2006 House elections, Shuler defeated incumbent Charles H. Taylor but retired after his district was redrawn. During his tenure in Congress, Shuler was known for challenging the leadership of his party, and in 2010 ran against Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader.

Shuler’s congressional district covered the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. The largest city in the district was Asheville, which has voted strongly Democratic, in part influenced by retirees from Northeastern and Midwestern areas. In redistricting, the Republican-dominated legislature redrew the boundaries of the 10th and 11th congressional districts, removing half of Asheville and making the district far more Republican in terms of voter history. As a result, Shuler announced his retirement from the House on February 2, 2012.

Early Life

Shuler was born in Bryson City, North Carolina, a small town in the Great Smoky Mountains near the Tennessee border. His father was a mail carrier and his mother a homemaker and volunteer with the Swain County Youth Association; he has a younger brother, Benjie.

Shuler’s athletic career began at Swain County High School in Bryson City. A standout quarterback who led his team to two state championships, he was named the North Carolina High School Player of the Year. He attracted scout attention and accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee in 1990.


Shuler #21, playing for University of Tennessee Football

Under head coaches Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, Shuler gained national attention as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. After a limited role in the 1991 season behind quarterback Andy Kelly, he became a prolific passer. In the 1992 season, he passed for 1,712 passing yards, ten touchdowns, and four interceptions as Tennessee finished with a 9–3 record. The next season, he finished with 2,354 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and eight interceptions as Tennessee finished with a 9–2–1 record. He held nearly all Volunteer passing records by the end of his collegiate career; most were subsequently eclipsed by Peyton Manning. In 1993, Shuler came in second behind Charlie Ward in the vote for the Heisman Trophy.

Professional Football Career

Shuler was a first-round selection in the 1994 NFL Draft, taken by the Washington Redskins with the third overall pick. He held out of training camp until he received a 7-year, $19.25 million contract, most of the holdout being due to Shuler’s agent and the Redskins general manager discussing the parameters of the contract. The Redskins had fallen on hard times since winning Super Bowl XXVI, and Shuler was considered the quarterback of the future. However, Shuler’s poor play contributed to a quarterback controversy with fellow 1994 draft pick, seventh-rounder Gus Frerotte. Public and fan sentiment soon began to back Frerotte, especially after Shuler threw five interceptions in a 19–16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Shuler started 18 games in his first two years with the team and was benched in his third year, as Frerotte led the team.

Washington Redskins first-round draft choice quarterback Heath Shuler of Tennessee holds up his new jersey during a news conference at Redskin Park in Ashburn, Va., April 25, 1994. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

After the 1996 season, Shuler was traded to the New Orleans Saints for a fifth-round pick in the 1997 draft and a third-round pick in 1998. Shuler’s statistics remained poor. He suffered a serious foot injury during the 1997 season in New Orleans and had two surgeries to try to correct it. Football statistics site Football Outsiders called Shuler “The least valuable quarterback of 1997.”

After being unable to take the field due to his foot injury in his second season in New Orleans, Shuler signed with the Oakland Raiders. After re-injuring his foot in training camp, he was cut and later retired. As a professional, his career passer rating was 54.3. In 2004, ESPN rated him the 17th biggest ‘sports flop’ of the past 25 years, along with the fourth-biggest NFL Draft bust. In 2007, the NFL Network ranked Shuler as the ninth-biggest bust in NFL history.

Personal Life

Shuler is married to Nikol Davis, with whom he has two children: a daughter, Island, and a son, Navy. Shuler remains active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Shuler also serves as a volunteer assistant football coach for Christ School, a boarding and day school located in suburban Asheville. His son Navy also attends Christ School.

Heath with wife Nikol, daughter Island, and son Navy

In Washington, Shuler lived at the C Street House of The Fellowship, a controversial organization that operates the property as a tax-exempt church and a residence for several congressmen and senators. The building became notorious during a series of political sex scandals in 2009, in which current or former residents John Ensign, Mark Sanford, and Chip Pickering admitted to adulterous affairs, which their housemates knew of but did not publicize. In September 2010, The New Yorker published a piece about the house, focusing on the connection with a secretive religious organization called the Fellowship. Shuler has attended weekly prayer sessions sponsored by the group since his arrival in Washington. In reference to the secrecy, Shuler said “I’ve been here the whole time, and there’s talk about what the Fellowship is, but I honestly have no idea what they’re talking about. I honestly don’t know what it is.”


Heath is on our Shuler side however, like most relatives from Cades Cove, he is also in the other surnames within our tree.

Relationship: fourth cousin twice removed descending

Hazel Myers Beaty


Myrtle Mae Shuler Myers


Henry Tolbert Shuler


James Henry


John Shuler

elder brother

George Shuler


William George Shuler


Thomas Daniel Shuler


Benjamin Ervin Shuler


Clinton Taft Shuler


Joseph Benjamin Shuler


Joseph Heath Shuler


Comments are closed.