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Jewish Football Players

Famous Jewish NFL Football Players

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Jews have a glorious history in the annals of sports. NFL football has been slim pickings for members of “Da Tribe,” but there has nevertheless been a solid handful of players who managed to shine. Here are some of the better Jewish NFL players to ever lace on the cleats:

Sid Luchman: A forerunner of the modern quarterback position, the pass-happy Luchman played for 12 seasons--all with the Chicago Bears. From 1939-1950, Luchman was one of the best quarterbacks in the land, leading his team to 4 NFL Championships. A member of the 1940’s All-Decade team, Luchman is the record holder with 7 touchdown passes in one game. All these years later, Luchman still holds many Chicago Bears passing records.

Benny Friedman: An old-school throwback from the leather helmet days, Friedman had a distinguished career that saw him named first team All-Pro 4 times in a row from 1927-1930. Faced with anti-semitism from players and the press, Friedman was one of the few early quarterbacks to put up respectable passing statistics.


Igor Olshansky: The Ukrainian-born Olshansky was a handful at Oregon, before being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft. The defensive end was feared presence at defensive end for San Diego for 5 solid seasons, as he anchored a good defensive line. Following his tenure with the Chargers, Olshansky spent 3 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, before ending up with Miami.

David Binn: Certainly not a name that will ring bells with most football fans. Nevertheless, Binn was one of the greatest of all time at an important position that receives very little attention--long snapper. San Diego fans knew exactly how important Binn was, as the Chargers punt team collapsed in his absence, costing San Diego at least a few wins. Add in the fact that Binn dated one of the top shiksas of all time in Pamela Anderson and he definitely deserves to be on this list.

Lyle Alzado: A lot of people may have thought Alzado was an Italian, but a Jew he was--and a fearsome one at that. With the Broncos, Browns, and Raiders, Alzado was an intimidating presence at the defensive end position and a 3-time All-Pro selection. Considered finished after being let go by Cleveland, Al Davis made Alzado one of his many reclamation projects and before long, Alzado was again thriving. One of the first players to publicly come out and discuss the dangers of steroids, Alzado passed away from cancer in 1992.

Andre Tippett: In a list where one struggles to come up with big names, converts are welcome. Tippett would be better known if his glory years coincided with the Patriots golden era. As it were, Tippett still achieved accolades, as he made the All-Pro team in 5 consecutive seasons from 1984-1988. The former Iowa Hawkeye was named to the 1980’s All-Decade team. In addition, Tippett was finally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. His 35-sacks from 1984-85 remains the highest two-season sack total of any linebacker in NFL history.

Antonio Garay: Another top Jewish player who made his bones as a San Diego Charger. Selected in the 6th round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Garay floated around from Cleveland, Chicago, and New York, before settling in with the Chargers from 2009-2012, establishing himself as a top nose tackle. Garay did not have much long-ranging success in a career-sense, but when healthy and given the chance, he was a handful as an interior lineman.

Randy Grossman: The clutch Pittsburgh tight end was drowned out by all the other stars who played for the Steelers during their glory years in the 1970’s, but make no mistake--Grossman was a quality tight end. He had to play behind Bennie Cunningham for a long time, but still managed to make an impact and collect 4 Super Bowl rings.

Jay Fiedler: The journeyman quarterback lasted over a decade in the NFL and even put together some quality seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

Josh Miller: The 15-year NFL veteran is perhaps best known for his punting work with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2003, where he was one of the top punters in the AFC. He would later spend a season for the New England Patriots, where his handy footwork helped the Pats win Super Bowl XXXIX.

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