Media Center: Harvard Crimson Football Players In Professional Football

Desmond Bryant '09 signed a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
Desmond Bryant '09 signed a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in 2013.

Harvard football has seen a tremendous resurgence in the number of graduates who have gone on to the professional ranks. Since 2000, 35 Crimson players have been drafted or signed professional contracts. Eight Harvard players are on National Football League rosters heading into the 2016 season.

Crimson In Professional Football
Name Team(s) Position(s) Year(s)  
Joe Azelby ’84 Buffalo Bills Linebacker 1984  
Michael Berg ’07 New York Giants Defensive End 2007  
Matt Birk ’98# Minnesota Vikings
Baltimore Ravens
Center 1998-2008

Cameron Brate '13-14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tight End 2014-present  
Ben Braunecker '16 Chicago Bears Tight End 2016-present  
Andrew Brecher ’08 Dallas Cowboys Tackle 2007  
Desmond Bryant ’09

Oakland Raiders
Cleveland Browns 

Defensive Tackle 2009-2012
Stanley Burnham ’19 Frankford Yellow Jackets Back 1925  
Roger Caron ’85 Indianapolis Colts Tackle 1985-86  
Eddie Casey ’20 Buffalo All-Americans Back 1920  
Charlie Clark ’20 Chicago Cubs Guard 1924  
Jeff Compas ’98 New England Patriots Defensive Back 1998  
Bill Craven ’73 Cleveland Browns Back 1976  
Harrie Dadmun ’19 Canton Bulldogs
New York Giants
Guard 1920
Clifton Dawson ’07 Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts
Back 2007
John Dockery ’68 New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers
Back-End 1968-71
Nick Easton '15 Baltimore Ravens
San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings 
Center 2015
Chris Eitzmann ’00 New England Patriots Tight End 2000  
Carl Etelman ’26 Providence Steamrollers Back 1926  
Earl Evans ’25 Chicago Cubs
Chicago Bears
Tackle 1925
Anthony Fabiano '16 Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns 
Center 2016
Jack Fadule ’03 New England Patriots Tackle 2003-04  
Matt Farbotko ’07 Indianapolis Colts Tight End 2007  
Anthony Firkser '17 New York Jets Tight End 2017-present  
Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 St. Louis Rams
Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills
Tennessee Titans 
Houston Texans
New York Jets 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quarterback 2005-06
Erwin Gehrke ’24 Boston Bulldogs Back 1926  
Herman Gundlach ’35 Boston Redskins Guard 1935  
Zack Hodges '15 Indianapolis Colts
St. Louis Rams
San Diego Chargers 
Linebacker 2015
Arnie Horween ’21 Chicago Cubs Back 1921-24  
Ralph Horween ’18 Chiacgo Cubs Back 1921-23  
Dan Jiggetts ’76 Chicago Bears Tackle 1976-83  
Kyle Juszczyk '13 Baltimore Ravens Full Back 2013-present  
Isaiah Kacyvenski ’00 Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams
Oakland Raiders
Linebacker 2000-06
Dick King ’16 Hammond Pros
Milw.-Rochester Jeffersons
St. Louis Browns
Back 1919-21
Bobby Leo ’67 Boston Patriots Back 1967-68  
Jacob Lindsey '16 Buffalo Bills Linebacker 2017-present  
Joe McGlone ’26 Providence Steamrollers
Boston Bulldogs
Quarterback 1926
Pat McInally ’75+ Cincinnati Bengals Punter/End 1976-85  
Al Miller ’27 Boston Bulldogs Quarterback 1929  
Carl Morris ’03 Miami Dolphins
San Diego Chargers
Receiver 2003-04
Kevin Murphy ’12 San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
Tackle 2012-13
Brent Osborne ’11 Seattle Seahawks
Tackle 2011-12  
Tyler Ott '14 New England Patriots
St. Louis Rams
New York Giants 
Cincinnati Bengals 
Long Snapper 2014
Joseph Pellegrini ’79 New York Jets
Atlanta Falcons
Center 1982-83
Chris Pizzotti ’08-09 New York Jets
Green Bay Packers
Quarterback 2009-10
Adam Redmond '16 Indianapolis Colts Guard 2016-present  
Max Rich '17 New England Patriots Tackle 2017-present  
Jamil Soriano ’03 New England Patriots Tackle 2003-04  
Red Steele ’20 Canton Bulldogs End 1921  
Richie Szaro ’71 New Orleans Saints
New York Jets
Kicker 1975-78
Cole Toner '16 Arizona Cardinals Tackle 2016-present  
James Williams '09 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tackle 2010-13  
# Pro Bowl Selection (2000, ’01, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07)
+ Pro Bowl Selection (1982)
Canadian Football League  
Tim Fleiszer ’98 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Montreal Alouettes
Ottawa Renegades
Edmonton Eskimos
Sasketchewan Roughriders
End 1998-99
Marco Iannuzzi '11 BC Lions Wide Receiver 2011-present  
Nic Sobic '07 Toronto Argonauts Tackle 2008-11  
David Sauve '82 Hamilton Tiger-Cats End
Team President

Recent history has seen Harvard alumni thrive in professional football. Former Crimson great Isaiah Kacyvenski ’00 became the third Harvard alum to play in a Super Bowl when his Seattle Seahawks won the 2005 NFC championship and faced the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Desmond Bryant is the latest Harvard player to reach notoriety at the top level of football as he enters his fourth season with the Oakland Raiders in 2012. Bryant ranked among Oakland's team leaders in tackles for linemen in 2009 with 32 to go along with a forced fumble in 16 games.

Bryant's classmate, Chris Pizzotti, a former finalist for the Walter Peyton Award - the Division I FCS National Player of the Year honor - Pizzotti was picked up by the Green Bay packers during the 2009 season following a stint with the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 was the talk of the league following his amazing performance of late as a team captain of the Buffalo Bills.

Fitzpatrick entered the 2005 season as the St. Louis Rams’ third-string quarterback, but was called into action after injuries sent St. Louis’ top two signal-callers to the sidelines. He played in his first NFL game Nov. 27, 2005, coming off the bench to lead the Rams from a 24-3 halftime deficit to a 33-27 overtime win, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yard TD pass for the game-winner.

Fitzpatrick became one of just six NFL players to pass for 300 yards in his debut, joining Otto Graham, Ed Rubbert (a replacement player during the 1987 NFL players strike), Mark Rypien, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton.

On the same day that Fitzpatrick’s heroics captured the U.S. storylines with the Rams, Tim Fleiszer ’98 was making waves north of the border. Fleiszer’s Edmonton Eskimos took a 38-35 overtime win against the Montreal Alouettes in the Grey Cup in what was called the greatest championship game in CFL history.

In 2008, Fitzpatrick started 12 games for the Cincinnati Bengals, where he completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and averaged over five yards per carry. He was rewarded with a free agent contract from the Buffalo Bills.

Fitzpatrick was named a team captain for the Bills in 2011 in his third year as a full-time starter in Buffalo. Throughout his four years with the Bills, he continued his success he started in Cincinnati, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes over 55 games and avereged five years per rush. 

Fitzpatrick's numbers didn't faulter in 2013 with the Tennesse Titans. He appeared in 11 games with nine starts, thorwing 2,454 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing a career-high 62 percent of his passes.  In 2015, Fitzpatrick joined the New York Jets and established a team record with 31 TD passes during his first season in the Big Apple.

The Gilbert, Ariz., native was picked up by the Houston Texans as a free agent for the 2014 season, his 10th in the NFL.

Most prominent among Harvard’s recent NFL contingent is Matt Birk ’98, the starting center for the Minnesota Vikings who was named to the NFL’s All-Pro Team in 2000, ’01, ’04, ’05 and ’07. In 2009 he was a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and before signing a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

Birk helped the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and hee was generally considered among the top centers in professional football during his career.

In 2013, Kyle Juszczyk was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens with the 130th overall pick where he played in 16 games.

At the 2016 NFL draft, Cole Toner was chosen in the fifth round and 170th overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.

The 2003 NFL season saw two Harvard players join the professional ranks as Jamil Soriano ’03 earned a spot on the practice squad of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, while Carl Morris ’03 was signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad. Jack Fadule ’03, meanwhile, was signed by the Patriots in February 2004.

In April 2000, Kacyvenski was taken in the fourth round (119th overall) by the Seattle Seahawks. He went on to play six seasons in Seattle, where he was named a team captain and stood at midfield for the coin toss during Super Bowl XL. He has since enjoyed stints with the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders.

Classmate and 1999 Harvard captain Chris Eitzmann ’00 played four preseason games with the New England Patriots in 2000 and later signed contracts with the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Patriots.

Two years earlier, Fleiszer became the first overall pick in the Canadian Football League draft when he was selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He played for Hamilton’s 1999 Grey Cup championship team before going on to play for his hometown Montreal Alouettes, winning a second Grey Cup in 2002. He then played two seasons with the Ottawa Renegades before joining the Edmonton Eskimos for the 2005 season, when he won his third Grey Cup.

Harvard's NFL Draft Selections
Name Year Team Round Pick
Verne Miller ’42 1942 New York Giants 17 158
Bill Fisher ’46 1946 Philadelphia Eagles 29 277
Jim Kenary ’50 1950 Chicago Bears 28 362
Dick Clasby ’54 1954 Philadelphia Eagles 12 141
John Culver ’54 1954 Chicago Cardinals 27 314
Bobby Leo ’67 1967 Boston Patriots 7 180
Dave Davis '67 1967 Boston Patriots 12 310
Carter Lord ’68 1968 Dallas Cowboys 13 347
Eric Crone ’73 1973 St. Louis Cardinals 17 421
Pat McInally ’75 1975 Cincinnati Bengals 5 120
Dan Jiggetts ’76 1976 Chicago Bears 6 161
Brian Buckley ’81 1981 New England Patriots 11 295
Joe Azelby ’84 1984 Buffalo Bills 10 263
Roger Caron ’85 1985 Indianapolis Colts 5 117
Tony Hinz ’89 1989 New England Patriots 11 294
Matt Birk ’98 1998 Minnesota Vikings 6 173
Isaiah Kacyvenski ’00 2000 Seattle Seahawks 4 119
Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 2005 St. Louis Rams 7 250
Kyle Juszczyk '13  2013 Baltimore Ravens  130 
Cole Toner '16 2016 Arizona Cardinals 5 170

That same year, Birk was a sixth-round pick by the Vikings, while Jeff Compas ’98 signed with New England and was invited to preseason camp. Mike Sands ’00 is another recent player to have signed a pro contract. He was with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played in NFL Europe in 2000.

Fleiszer isn't Harvard's only first round draft pick in the CFL. Marco Iannuzzi '11 was the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft of the BC Lions.

Perhaps the best known of the Crimson’s pros is Pat McInally ’75, an All-America split end who went on to star for the Cincinnati Bengals at both receiver and punter. He played in Super Bowl XVI against the San Francisco 49ers and was an All-Pro choice a year later.

While McInally wasn’t fortunate enough to play on the winning side in a Super Bowl, another Harvard graduate did earn an NFL championship ring. John Dockery ’66 played on one of the most famous Super Bowl teams, the Joe Namath-led New York Jets, who won the 1969 classic over Baltimore.

Dan Jiggetts ’76, who captained the Crimson’s first outright Ivy championship team in 1975, played eight seasons with the Chicago Bears before retiring in 1983. He went on to announce NFL games for CBS and worked with former Harvard basketball great James Brown ’73 in 1987 to form the first all-African-American broadcasting team at a major sporting event. He was also calling the Harvard-Yale game in 2007 when the Crimson pulled off a 37-6 victory in the Yale Bowl, winning the league title and dashing Yale’s chance at a perfect season.