Harvard football has seen a tremendous resurgence in the number of graduates who have gone on to the professional ranks. Since 2000, 29 Crimson players have been drafted or signed professional contracts. Seven Harvard players are on National Football League rosters heading into the 2015 season.
|Crimson In Professional Football|
|Joe Azelby ’84||Buffalo Bills||Linebacker||1984|
|Michael Berg ’07||New York Giants||Defensive End||2007|
|Matt Birk ’98#||Minnesota Vikings
Cameron Brate '13-14
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Tight End||2014-present|
|Andrew Brecher ’08||Dallas Cowboys||Tackle||2007|
|Desmond Bryant ’09||
|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
|Clifton Dawson ’07||Cincinnati Bengals
|John Dockery ’68||New York Jets
|Nick Easton '15||Baltimore Ravens
San Francisco 49ers
|Chris Eitzmann ’00||New England Patriots||Tight End||2000|
|Carl Etelman ’26||Providence Steamrollers||Back||1926|
|Earl Evans ’25||Chicago Cubs
|Jack Fadule ’03||New England Patriots||Tackle||2003-04|
|Matt Farbotko ’07||Indianapolis Colts||Tight End||2007|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05||St. Louis Rams
New York Jets
|Erwin Gehrke ’24||Boston Bulldogs||Back||1926|
|Herman Gundlach ’35||Boston Redskins||Guard||1935|
|Zack Hodges '15||Indianapolis Colts
St. Louis Rams
|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
|Dick King ’16||Hammond Pros
St. Louis Browns
|Bobby Leo ’67||Boston Patriots||Back||1967-68|
|Joe McGlone ’26||Providence Steamrollers
|Pat McInally ’75+||Cincinnati Bengals||Punter/End||1976-85|
|Al Miller ’27||Boston Bulldogs||Quarterback||1929|
|Carl Morris ’03||Miami Dolphins
San Diego Chargers
|Kevin Murphy ’12||San Francisco 49ers
|Brent Osborne ’11||Seattle Seahawks
|Tyler Ott '14||New England Patriots
St. Louis Rams
New York Giants
|Joseph Pellegrini ’79||New York Jets
|Chris Pizzotti ’08-09||New York Jets
Green Bay Packers
|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
|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
|Marco Iannuzzi '11||BC Lions||Wide Receiver||2011-present|
|Nic Sobic '07||Toronto Argonauts||Tackle||2008-11|
|David Sauve '82||Hamilton Tiger-Cats||End
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 strats, thorwing 2,454 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing a career-high 62 percent of his passes.
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 current 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.
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|
|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||4||130|
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.