Dartmouth in Pro Football
The academically prestigious Ivy League may seem a long way from the bone-jarring world of professional football but more than 40 Dartmouth football alumni have reached this level over the years, including one Pro Football Hall of Famer. Among Dartmouth players in the professional ranks:
Dartmouth’s most recent NFL draftee is Casey Cramer ’04, the All-America and All-Ivy tight end who became one of Dartmouth’s all-time receiving leaders from 2000-03. Cramer was taken in the seventh round of the 2004 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a tight end-fullback. He played with the Carolina Panthers in 2004-05 and joined the Tennessee Titans in 2006.
|Big Green Pro Football Players|
Jay Fiedler ’94, the Ivy League player-of-the-year in 1992 who holds virtually every Dartmouth passing record, succeeded Dan Marino in 2000 as the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback and helped the Dolphins reach the NFL playoffs. During five seasons with the Dolphins, Fiedler had a 36-23 record as a starter, passing for 11,040 yards and 66 touchdowns. He played for the New York Jets in 2005, a season punctuated by injuries that continued to plague him with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and prompted his retirement in 2006. Over 11 seasons Fiedler had a career won-lost record of 37-23 with 11,844 yards passing and 69 touchdowns.
Fiedler signed originally as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994. He later moved to the Minnesota Vikings. After a tour in NFL Europe in 1998, he was the backup quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999 as the Jags also reached the playoffs.
Linebacker Zack Walz ’98, one of four Dartmouth players to be voted first team All-Ivy three times, was drafted in the sixth round by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. Walz was the first Dartmouth player taken in the draft since Gregg Robinson ’78 was tapped by the New York Jets in the sixth round in 1978.
During five seasons, though dogged by leg injuries, Walz saw special teams and starting action with the Cardinals. He was a teammate of and roomed with Pat Tillman who left pro football to become an Army Ranger and was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
Walz’s Dartmouth teammate, defensive back Lloyd Lee ’98, signed in 1998 as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers and saw spot duty with the Chargers for two seasons. He remained in pro football on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is now a coach with the Chicago Bears who went to the Super Bowl in 2007.
In 2000, tight end Adam Young ’99 signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants. Young owns a ring from New York’s 2001 Super Bowl appearance.
Caleb Moore ’01, captain and All-Ivy guard in 2000, signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans but was an unsuccessful candidate with both the Titans and Arizona Cardinals.
Over the Years in the NFL
Dartmouth has been represented in the NFL from the league’s beginning when Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Ed Healey ’18 was the first player in the NFL to be traded, moving from the Rock Island Independents to the Chicago Bears after player-coach and future owner George Halas acquired his services for $100. Healey played with the Bears from 1922-27 and was called by Halas “the most versatile tackle in history.”
Drafted in the third round of the 1976 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, Reggie Williams ’76 enjoyed a 14-year career as an All-Pro linebacker for the Bengals. Williams made two Super Bowl appearances with the Bengals (1982, 1989). He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 1986.
After persevering through 11 cuts by eight different teams, Nick Lowery ’78 broke into the NFL in 1980. He had an 18-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets and set the NFL record for career field goals. He remains the league’s most accurate field goal kicker of all time (80 percent).
Jeff Kemp ’81 followed his father, Jack Kemp, into the NFL. He spent more than a decade as a quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Kemp’s classmate, Dave Shula ’81, made his mark with an NFL coaching career that included stops with Miami and Dallas. In 1992, the Cincinnati Bengals made him the youngest head coach in NFL history. At age 31, he edged his famous father, Don Shula, by a few months.
Quarterback Mike Brown ’57 followed his father, legendary coach Paul Brown, into NFL management. He is president and general manager of the Bengals. Brown’s daughter, Kate Brown Blackburn ’86, now is the Bengals’ executive vice president.
For the past 15 years, John Idzik ’82, a wide receiver in 1981, has been an NFL administrator. He spent 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and three with the Arizona Cardinals. He became vice president, football administration for the Seattle Seahawks in 2007.
Other Dartmouth Professionals
Other Dartmouth players who have gone into pro football (but not the NFL) include: Anthony Gargiulo ’06 was a defensive end with the Calgary Stampeders (CLF) in 2007 and is trying to make a comeback from a broken leg suffered in the final game of the season. Derham Cato ’05, back with the Big Green as the tight ends coach in 2010, was a defensive tackle with the Toronto Argonauts in 2007.
Wide receiver Craig Morton ’89 and David Clark ’90 played for Frankfurt and Birmingham respectively in the World League of American Football. Most recently, free safety Pete Pidermann ’10 played for the Mönchengladbach Mavericks in the German Football League 2.
Quarterback Jim Chasey ’71, co-recipient with Cornell’s Ed Marinaro of the first Bushnell Award as the Ivy League’s outstanding player in 1970, played with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League in the early 1970s.
Kyle Schroeder ’00, a standout defensive end at Dartmouth in 1998-99, played with the XFL’s Birmingham Thunderbolts in 2001.
Quarterbacks Greg Smith ’02 and Brian Mann ’02 have recent Arena Football League experience. Mann played for several seasons with the Los Angeles Avengers and also made his debut as an actor as the stand-in for Adam Sandler in the movie, The Longest Yard, released in 2005.