Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All-Time – Thursday’s Top Ten List

Created by Matthew J. Goldberg, tipofthegoldberg.com

With Super Bowl XLVI just three—or is it III—days away, Bagels & Jocks rates and ranks the Top Ten Jewish Football Players of All-Time. Perhaps surprisingly, the task became less about stretching to find a minyan but one of having to cut some very worthy players.

In researching beyond a few obvious candidates, it also became evident that some prominent Jewish players—in addition to celebrated team coaches and executives—helped pave the way for collegiate football (NCAA), the National Football (NFL) and some of the forerunner leagues such as the American Football League (AFL).

Some excellent information for this piece was provided by the International Jewish Hall of Fame, which was founded in Netanya, Israel in 1979 and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, which dates to 1993 in Commack, New York and is part of the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten ListOur unofficial eleventh man, if you will, would probably be Andre Tippet, who terrorized (that’s a good thing in this context) opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers from 1982-1993 as a strong-side linebacker for the New England Patriots. Tippett, who converted to Judaism after he retired from the NFL, is a member of both the National Jewish and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Here are ten of the very best greats of the gridiron, pillars of the pigskin and Machers of the Midway. The Number One player certainly was; he starred for the Chicago Bears team that was known as the Monsters of the Midway.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List10.  JAY FIEDLER (1971–)

Member – National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

This Oceanside, NY product was an NFL quarterback for nine seasons, enjoying his best run as a starter with the Miami Dolphins from 2000-2004. Fiedler enjoyed an impressive 37-23 record as an NFL quarterback, completed almost 59 percent of his passes and threw 69 touchdowns. Prior to his pro career, he starred for the Big Green of Dartmouth.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List9. SIGMUND (SIG) HARRIS (1883–1964)

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Sig Harris did not have an opportunity to play pro football but he was a legendary player in the early days of collegiate football the University of Minnesota. Harris was the team’s starting quarterback, punter, punt returner and safety from 1902-1904. A true signal caller, he also called all of his team’s play.

In his three years as a Golden Gopher, the team compiled a composite record of 37 wins, two losses and two ties, with both losses coming in 1902. During their 14-0-1 season of 1903, the Gophers outscored their opponents by an unbelievable margin of 656-12. The only slight blemish on their record was a 6-6 tie with archrival Michigan. They made up for it the next year, winning all 13 games by a combined score of…are you ready for this…725-12.

Sig also coached for his alma mater, and not insignificantly, founded a machinery business in 1905 that he headed until he passed away.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List8. HARRY NEWMAN (1909–2000)

Member – International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Newman played professionally for the New York Giants from 1933-35, with injuries limiting what may have been a Hall of Fame pro career. He was a do-everything tailback, who was a threat to run, pass, punt and place kick.

Newman was enshrined as part of the first class of inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame. The University of Michigan Al-American starred from 1930-32 and won the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy (called the Douglas Fairbanks Trophy) his senior year. His team had similar success as Sig Harris’ Gophers; the Wolverines, spearheaded by Newman’s marvelous play, lost only one game and tied two in his three years at Ann Arbor.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List7. MARSHALL GOLDBERG (1917–2006)

Member – International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

The West Virginia football, basketball and track star became an unstoppable force at the University of Pittsburgh, leading the Panthers to a Rose Bowl win in 1937 and an NCAA championship in 1938.

His pro career was also quite impressive, and he has twice been a finalist for a berth in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A two-way player, Goldberg was a solid runner but really starred at defensive back, earning four All-Pro selections in the 1940s. His strong two-way play was a key factor in the Chicago Cardinals winning an NFL title in 1948.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List6. HARRIS BARTON (1964–)

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Harris Barton was a stalwart member of the San Francisco 49ers’ great offensive lines from 1987-1996. The one-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro blocked for two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Joe Montana and Steve Young and was a starter for three Super Bowl champion teams in his ten years.

Barton was a collegiate star for the University of North Carolina.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List5. ED NEWMAN (1951–)

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Newman was an All-America offensive lineman and two-time ACC heavyweight wrestling champion as a two-sports stud at Duke University.

He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1973 and helped anchor their line for 13 years. In that time, The Fins played in three Super Bowls. The four-time Pro Bowler was big, strong (he was credited with bench-pressing over 500 pounds), tough (Newman excelled despite multiple knee injuries and thyroid cancer surgery) and smart (he became a judge after his retirement from the NFL)

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List4. LYLE ALZADO (1949–1992)

Brooklyn’s own Lyle Alzado may best be remembered as one of the feared defensive linemen of those colorful Los Angeles Raiders teams of the early 1980s. The multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection enjoyed a terrific 15-year NFL career with the Raiders, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns. He played in two Super Bowls, winning one.
Alzado was also honored by his fellow players as the NFL’s Whizzer White Man of the Year in 1977.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List3 . BENNY FRIEDMAN (1905­–1982)

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Friedman was a sensational player at the University of Michigan prior to entering the NFL to great fanfare in 1927. The versatile back could run, kick and play defensive back with the best of his era, but really excelled at throwing the ball at a time when it was not done with either regularity or much proficiency.

In each of his first four years in the NFL, Benny led the league in touchdown passes. Although he had a relatively short pro career, his career mark of 66 touchdown passes was unbroken for years after he left the game.

Friedman was such a gate attraction for the league that New York Giants owner Tim Mara purchased the Detroit Wolverines franchise prior to the 1929 season just to acquire his services. Benny Friedman is still the only NFL player to lead the league in touchdown passes and rushing touchdowns in the same year.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List2. RON MIX

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Known as “The Intellectual Assassin,” Ron Mix played all but the last season of his 11-year Hall of Fame pro career with the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers. The Raiders coaxed him out of retirement in 1971, one year after he left the Chargers.

Mix was a Pro Bowl selection every year from 1961-68 and was a first-team All-Pro each year from 1960-68. He was unanimously chosen for the AFL’s all-time team in 1969.  In 1979, Ron became only the second AFL player and sixth offensive lineman to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten List1. SID LUCKMAN (1916–1998)

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Sid Luckman, another Brooklynite, starred at Columbia University prior to becoming the greatest quarterback in the history of the Chicago Bears franchise. Luckman spent each of his 12 Hall of Fame seasons (1939-50) in the Windy City.

Operating from the T-formation, Luckman was, arguably, the greatest passer of his era, and he was also a fine defensive back and punter. The cerebral Columbia grad was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a one-time league MVP who led his “Monsters of the Midway” teams to four NFL championships.

Three of his most famous games were: 1) a 73-0 rout of the Washington Redskins—who were led by the (otherwise) superb Sammy Baugh—in the 1940 title game; 2) a remarkable seven touchdown passes and 443 passing yards in a 56-7 trouncing of the host New York Giants on what was billed as Sid Luckman Day (and it was); 3) five touchdown passes to defeat the Redskins 41-21 in the 1943 title game.

That concludes our list of the Top 10 Jewish Football Players of All-Time. If you have any observations or suggestions for this column or future lists, please comment below or send me an email.


Top 10 Jewish Football Players Of All Time   Thursday’s Top Ten ListMatthew J. (call him Matt) Goldberg will be presenting a Jewish-style Top Ten list every Thursday on this site.

 For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com, or contact him via email. His new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”) can be found here.

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Matthew J. Goldberg About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew

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  1. Ed Gibbs says:

    Wher’s Bernie Kosar?

  2. dave says:

    What about Igor Olshansky?

    • Well, Big Igor’s Jewish and proudly so and had a pretty good career, but Top 10? The only guy I’d even consider moving to make room for him is Jay Fiedler, but I just don’t think he’s Top 10.

  3. Dave Newman says:

    Fred Biletnikoff?

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