7 NFL Players Who Went to Ivy League Colleges


You’ve read about the celebrity nerds who graduated from college, but let’s not forget about awe-inspiring athletes who have performed feats of glory that wowed the entire country.

Here are seven athletes from the National Football League (NFL) who studied at the some of the most prestigious colleges in the Ivy League.

7 Ivy League NFL Players

Ryan Fitzpatrick


image courtesy foxsports.com

Fitzpatrick studied at Harvard University, pursuing a mathematics degree. While there, he played college football as the quarterback and broke a record with his rush for 1,986 yards, the first in school history. Because of that, he earned an MVP award in 2004.

He went to join the NFL, and took the Wonderlic Test, where he scored 48 out of 50. His was the highest score achieved by a quarterback candidate (the only one who garnered a perfect score was the wide receiver Pat McInally of the Cincinnati Bengals).

He was originally from Arizona, and was first drafted by the St. Louis Rams (2005-2006). After that, he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and presently, the New York Jets.

Matt Birk


image courtesy of trumbulltimes.com

From Minnesota, Birk was an All-American student-athlete. He played football, basketball, and track and field. He also received All-St. Paul Conference, Academic All-State, and All-State honors for his outstanding performance in basketball and football.

He went to study economics at Harvard University, graduating in 1998. While there, he played football and also received several game honors.

He first played for the Minnesota Vikings, and during his time, was called the first Harvard Crimson lineman to part of the NFL since 1985.

In 2009, he played for the Baltimore Ravens until his retirement in 2013. In the following year, he was named the League’s Director of Football Development.

Sid Luckman


image from video on youtube.com

Sidney Luckman was called the first modern T-formation quarterback, according to Pulitzer prize writer Ira Berkow. He was born in Brooklyn to parents who had come from Germany.

He played football and baseball in high school, and his performance had him scouted by over 40 colleges. He decided to go to Columbia University. He studied under the New College for the Education of Teachers, where he played football.

Unfortunately, the college closed, so Luckman was transferred to Columbia College. There, he worked part-time as a babysitter, dishwasher, and messenger.

Luckman initially didn’t want to play pro-football, but Chicago Bears coach George Halas relentlessly tried to persuade him. In the end, Luckman signed with the Bears. He was drafted in 1939, after he had graduated from the university.

He received many NFL awards like MVP, Champion (for 4 times), passing touchdowns leader (3 times), and more.

He only played for the Chicago Bears until his retirement in 1950.

Ed Marinaro


image source heismanpundit.com

He played high school football, then college football at Cornell University. There, as a student athlete, he was able to set 16 NCAA records, and was the first NCAA running back to run for 4,000 rushing yards. Later years (1970s) followed this.

He won a Maxwell Award and the UPI College Football Player of the Year Award in 1971. He soon signed with the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks, his last in 1977.

He went on to become an actor and starred in many TV shows. And in 1991, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Charles Philip Bednarik


image by nytimes.com

His parents had originally come from Slovakia to work in Pennsylvania, USA. He began playing football when he was just in high school, and then joined the military after graduation.

He then attended the University of Pennsylvania and became a three-time All-American honoree. He also won the Maxwell Award in 1948, and in 1969, he was “The Greatest Center of All-Time”.

In the 1949 Draft for the League, he was the first player to get signed on a team. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 1960, Bedranik performed one of the most remarkable tackles in the history of US pro-football. He tackled New York Giants’ Frank Gifford, disenabling the man from playing the game for more than a year. There’s a reason he got the nickname “Concrete Charlie”.

He played for the Eagles until 1962. He became a heavy critic of modern football, on player’s salaries, on one-way players (he was the last full-time two-way player), and more, but for his achievements and contributions to the Eagles, his number “60”, was retired (which means that no one else will wear that number in the Eagles as a homage to his accomplishments).

Kevin Boothe


image courtesy ivyleaguesports.com

Coming from Florida, Boothe went to Cornell University, where he played college football. A known free agent for NFL, Boothe signed with different teams. First, he played for the Oakland Raiders. This was a memorable moment for Cornell, as Boothe was the first player drafted for NFL from the university since 1997.

Boothe then played for the New York Giants (2007 and 2013). In 2014, he signed back with his first team, and currently plays for them.

Reggie Williams


image from cincyjungle.com

This linebacker was originally from Michigan. He had a hearing disability when he was a young child. He eventually overcame it and became a champion athlete at his high school, Flint Southwestern High School.

Aside from playing football, Williams also joined the wrestling team.

He studied at Dartmouth College on a scholarship, studying psychology. He became a three-time All-Ivy Leaguer in football and an Ivy League champion in heavyweight wrestling. While in college, Williams also took up tai chi and ballet.

In 1976, he signed on with the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the NFL drafting. He received many awards, like the 1985 Byron “Whizzer” White Award for Humanitarian and 1987 Sports Illustrated Co-Sportsman of the Year, among others.

After he retired from the League, he became part of the World League of American Football. He went back to NFL and founded the first Youth Education Town in LA.

In 2007, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, for all his accomplishments, and the fact that he played most of his seasons with a bad right knee (for which he had to undergo surgeries later on).

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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