The All-Time All-Lacrosse Football Team: Offense
In the spirit of multi-sport participation and the National Football League season that has once again taken the nation's attention (I've never seen Baltimore sidewalks more empty than during a Sunday afternoon Ravens game), here it is: a look the best two-sport athletes — lacrosse and football — from the last 70 or so years.
I originally conceived this idea with the intent of filling all 22 starting spots on a football team, with lacrosse players. There would be 11 starting spots on offense and 11 starting spots on defense to form the All-Time All-Lacrosse football team. But while research, suggestions from Lacrosse Magazine staff, National Lacrosse Hall of Fame archivist Joe Finn, and other sources helped uncover many names to populate nearly a full football starting lineup, there were still spots to fill mainly along the offensive line. A full team, almost.
Instead, we'll go with the whole enchilada. In two installments — the offense appears here and defense, special teams and coach can be found here — here is as big a list as I could produce of lacrosse players who also dabbled in professional and college football, or vice versa. Some, you'll see, dabbled in each more than others. If you have other suggestions or corrections please contact me at email@example.com or on Twitter @Corey_McL.
A couple hints at the list: I would take lacrosse's defensive front seven against any team. The offense would run through Jim Brown. (Pro and college statistics below are via Pro Football Reference and College Football Reference, and there are links below to various sources used to compile the list.)
|After years away from lacrosse,
Pro Football and National Lacrosse Hall of Famer Jim Brown is now a
co-owner of Major League Lacrosse's New York Lizards.
Football: Washington Redskins, Maryland (player and coach), DePauw (coach)
Mont played lacrosse and was a star quarterback at Maryland, where he was the nation's third-ranked passer in 1942 and an honorable mention All-American. After serving in World War II after college, he returned to Maryland and played another football season and lacrosse season. Most notably, Mont backed up legendary quarterback Sammy Baugh for three seasons (1947-49) with the Washington Redskins. He saw limited action aside from starting two games in 1948. He later became head football coach at Maryland (1956-58) and DePauw, and was popular on the public speaking circuit. He passed away in 2012.
Lacrosse: Hunterdon Central (N.J.)
Football: Buffalo Bills (tryout), Penn State
Bill was an All-American midfielder (50 goals and 37 assists in three seasons) and All-American quarterback during his high school days at Hunterdon Central. He went on to play football at Penn State, where he ran into alcohol-related problems and was suspended for his junior year and entered rehab. He spent his senior season in 1990 as a backup to Nittany Lions quarterback Tony Sacca and ended his college career by being awarded the team's "Unsung Hero Award." Bill later got a tryout with the NFL's Buffalo Bills. He resurfaced on the lacrosse scene playing club lacrosse in New Jersey and coaching at Voorhees (N.J.) High. In 2009, he was elected to the Hunterdon Central Foundation Hall of Fame, and at the time he was an assistant football coach at his alma mater and a substance abuse counselor at a school in Tewksbury, N.J.
When McNallen graduated from Navy in 1971, he was Navy's all-time leader in completions and yardage, and he also started on the lacrosse team.
Lacrosse: Syracuse, Manhasset (N.Y.), New York Lizards (part owner)
Football: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse
Brown is perhaps the most famous person to ever play lacrosse. Nary does a reference to the Pro Football Hall of Famer and of the greatest athletes of all-time not include the qualifier that he is also one of lacrosse's all-time greats. Indeed, he was inducted to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983. Brown recently re-joined the lacrosse scene as a part owner of Major League Lacrosse's Lizards. He was awarded the first-ever Tewaaraton Legends Award in 2011 in Washington, D.C. Read a Q&A with Brown about his lacrosse experience here.
Lacrosse: Westfield (Va.)
Football: Washington Redskins, Penn State
Royster is the first player on this list from the Fantasy Football era so the name may be more recognizable to the younger generation. Penn State's all-time leading rusher is in his third season with the Washington Redskins after being drafted by the team in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Royster was an Under Armour All-American in lacrosse in 2006 and had offers from Virginia and Johns Hopkins. He picked up the sport in the third grade when his family moved from Texas to Virginia. Penn State recruited him partly because of his lacrosse background.
"When we were chasing Royster, I never saw him play a [lacrosse] game, but we were debating how hard we wanted to recruit him as a running back," the late Penn State coach Joe Paterno said in 2007. "When they told me he was voted outstanding lacrosse player in Virginia, I said to [defensive-line coach] Larry Johnson, 'See if we can get him.' " Virginia coach Dom Starsia said Royster had the potential to be a dominant Division I player.
Football: Denver Broncos, Virginia
Quayle, a former ACC Athlete of the Year and a Garden City, N.Y., native, was an honorable mention All-American at Virginia in lacrosse in 1967, and ACC Player of the Year in football as a running back in 1968. Quayle was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 1969 NFL Draft and played one season with the team. He was later a long-time color analyst for Virginia football games, retiring in 2011.
Lacrosse: Canandaigua (N.Y.)
Football: Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, Michigan State
Greene played midfield at Canandaigua (N.Y.) High, where he also set several rushing records on the football team. He played college football at Michigan State and four seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers (1996-97) and Indianapolis Colts (1998-99). He was the Colts' starting fullback in 1998. Greene is in his eighth season at head football coach at the University of Rochester.
Lacrosse: Walkersville (Md.)
Football: Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Syracuse
Fiammetta is another current NFLer, currently a fullback for the Chicago Bears. He's in his fifth pro season and in addition to the Bears, has played with the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, the latter led by lacrosse aficionado Bill Belichick. He had four receptions for 57 yards in 2013. Fiammetta was born in Hawaii and raised in Walkersville, Md. He played football and lacrosse, as a midfielder, at Walkersville (Md.) High and went on to play football at Syracuse. "I was always in good condition coming out of lacrosse season," Fiammetta told the Panthers' website in 2009. "Having another sport that you're really competitive at keeps you in tip-top shape all the time."
Donnelly was starting fullback and was one of Navy's leading rushers when the played (1962-64), the same time as Roger Staubach. Donnelly was also a first-team All-American defenseman in 1965, and won the Schmeisser trophy as the nation's most outstanding defenseman.
The National Lacrosse Hall of Famer was an All-American defenseman on Navy's championship teams in the 1960s, and a Navy football player. Tamulevich's hometown newspaper, the Nashua (Mass.) Telegraph, on May 12, 1967, wrote "If, as many suspect, Tamulevich wins the starting fullback job for the Midshipmen this fall, he could very easily make Navy followers forget the likes of Joe Bellino, Roger Staubach and other great backs who have won fame and honor at Navy." Tamulevich is currently a senior associate athletic director at Navy.
Lacrosse: Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.)
Football: Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Syracuse
Schwedes was a standout midfielder at Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) and played football at Syracuse. He was drafted in the second round by the Miami Dolphins in the 1987 draft. He was a receiver on Dolphins teams piloted by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and featuring wideouts Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, and Schwedes was a punt and kick returner as well. He finished his four-year pro career with 765 punt return yards on 80 tries and 302 kick return yards on 17 attempts. He had 370 yards receiving, and played part of his final season with the San Diego Chargers.
|After stints with the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers the last two season, former Penn State lacrosse player Chris Hogan has caught on this season with the Buffalo Bills. (Image courtesy Miami Dolphins)|
Lacrosse: Penn State
Football: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Monmouth
Hogan was a lacrosse and football standout at Ramapo High in Franklin Lakes, N.J., where in 2006 he was the state midfielder of the year and an Under Armour High School All-American. He chose to play lacrosse at Penn State and in four seasons tallied 71 points. He also suffered a season-ending injury his sophomore year that gave him an extra year of NCAA athletic ability, which he used to play football at Monmouth in New Jersey. He caught the eye of some scouts leading up to the 2011 NFL draft and the San Francisco 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent. He caught on later that season with the Miami Dolphins and is currently with the Buffalo Bills. Hogan had 10 catches for 83 yards this season for the Bills. An archived podcast with Hogan is available here.
Lacrosse: Brown, Good Counsel (Md.)
Football: Florida Tuskers (UFL), Orland Predators (AFL), Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Berlin Thunder (NFL Europe)
The Bleacher Report in 2012 named Gessner one of the 20 best two-sport stars in college football history. He was a two-sport All-American, earning the honor as a midfielder and wide receiver at Brown, where he graduated in 2003. He spent time with five NFL teams from 2003-2008, and a few others. With his football career winding down, Gessner was taken second overall by the then-Baltimore Bayhawks in the MLL supplemental draft ahead of the 2009 season, but he didn't play in a game that year.
Lacrosse: Penn State, East Meadow (N.Y.)
Football: New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Penn State
Mauti played lacrosse at East Meadow (N.Y.) High on Long Island and had a stint at Nassau Community College before heading to Penn State to play lacrosse and football. He was an all-league midfielder at East Meadow, was highly recruited in lacrosse and nearly went to North Carolina to play the sport, before Penn State offered the opportunity to play football and lacrosse. He was a second-team All-American midfielder at Penn State in 1976 and played in the North-South game in 1977. He played seven seasons in the NFL, mostly as a kick returner; all but one with the New Orleans Saints. His sons, Patrick and Mike, also played football at Penn State and Mike is now a linebacker with the Minnesota Vikings.
Schwelm was the favorite target of McNallen, one of the quarterbacks on the list. Like McNallen, Schwelm was a 1971 Navy graduate. He was also a two-time All-American defenseman.
Lowe, who was an All-American lacrosse player at Liverpool (N.Y.) High, played midfield and was a wideout at Syracuse from 1996-1999.
McEneaney, the National Lacrosse Hall of Famer and Cornell All-American attackman from 1975-77 who was killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks, played wide receiver for two seasons at Cornell and was second-team All-Ivy in 1976, when he led the Big Red in receiving. After graduation, he nearly made the New York Jets' roster as a punter returner before being cut in the last round.
Lacrosse: Huntington (N.Y.)
Football: New York Jets, North Carolina State, Nassau CC
Sohn played football and lacrosse, where he was an all-county pick, at Huntington High, leading the school the 1975 Long Island championship in the latter, and went on to play football at Nassau CC and North Carolina State before a seven-year career with the New York Jets, as a kick and punt returner and wide receiver from 1981-88.
Lacrosse: Johns Hopkins, Friends (Md.)
Football: Baltimore Colts (drafted)
Cowan, a National Lacrosse Hall of Famer who played on three NCAA championship teams at Johns Hopkins (1967-69) and was the nation's most outstanding player in 1969, was also a standout on the Blue Jays' football team. He was the first Johns Hopkins athlete selected by an NFL team, when the then-Baltimore Colts picked the wide receiver/punter in the final round of the 1969 draft. Cowan last spring was honored as the Tewaaraton Legends Award recipient; an award that in 2011 went to another multi-sport start on this list, Jim Brown.
Carpenter, who captained the Army football team in 1959, was known as the Lonesome End as a result of the team's tactic of lining the split end up near the sideline outside of huddles. He was a consensus All-American in 1959 in football, and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982. He picked up lacrosse quickly, too. In 1960 Sports Illustrated said Carpenter "in a single year had become the best defenseman in college lacrosse." He was voted an All-American defenseman only a year after he picked up a stick. "He was like a gazelle," Army coach Ace Adams told SI in this William Nack profile of Carpenter. "Probably the best pure athlete that I ever coached. Just plain, raw-boned athletic ability." Carpenter served in Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest wartime medal, for directing airstrikes to his own position to thwart an enemy attack. [Thanks to reader Philip Wright for this suggestion.]
Football: Baltimore Colts
Mackey, who played lacrosse and football at Syracuse, re-defined the position of tight end at a time when most were viewed as additional offensive tackles. He was one of the first great pass-catching tight ends. Mackey played 10 NFL seasons in a Hall of Fame professional career, all but one with the Baltimore Colts. He died in 2011 at 69, suffering from dementia, believed to be caused by blows sustained during his playing career. The John Mackey Award is presented annually to college football's best tight end.
|Miami Dolphins tackle Will Yeatman (right) graced the May 2009 cover of Lacrosse Magazine.|
Football: Texas A&M, Army, Chicago Hornets (AAFC), Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC), Wichita State (head coach), Texas A&M (head coach)
Long before Johnny Manziel arrived in College Station, Foldberg played and coached at Texas A&M, in 1942 and from 1962-64, respectively. And he also played lacrosse, basketball and football, as tight end, at Army in the mid-1940s. In addition to being the head coach at Wichita State and Texas A&M, he coached at Purdue and Florida. He passed away in 2011.
Lacrosse: Mount Tabor (N.C.)
Football: Green Bay Packers, North Carolina, Mount Tabor (N.C.)
Taylor turned down lacrosse scholarship offers to play football at North Carolina, where he played offense, defense and special teams. He played a variety of lacrosse positions at Mount Tabor high school, from close defense to short-stick midfield. Taylor in 2013 completed his third NFL season as a tight end with the Green Bay Packers.
Lacrosse: Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.)
Football: Dallas Cowboys, Penn State, Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.)
Rafferty, named to the Dallas Cowboys All-Time Team in 2003, played in two Super Bowls and won one in 14 seasons in the NFL (1976-1989), playing center and guard. Starting out, he was all-league in football and lacrosse at Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) High and was an All-American defenseman in 1972 before playing four years on the line at Penn State. He was also a long-snapper with the Cowboys, a mini-trend among players on this list.
Lacrosse: Maryland, Notre Dame, Rancho Bernardo (Calif.)
Football: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Maryland, Notre Dame, Rancho Bernardo (Calif.)
Yeatman, played lacrosse and football at Maryland and Notre Dame, was in the original tryout pool for the 2010 U.S. men's national team and a two-time US Lacrosse All-American at Rancho Bernardo (Calif.). He signed a free agent deal with the New England Patriots, led by lacrosse fan Bill Belichick, after going undrafted in 2011. Yeatman said in an interview with Lacrosse Magazine that dodging in lacrosse correlated to running receiving routes in football and lacrosse helped with his physical fitness heading into a given football season. He was later signed by the Miami Dolphins and converted into an offensive tackle, seeing more playing time as of late. But Yeatman tore his ACL this fall in practice with the Dolphins and missed the rest of the year. Read a Q&A with Yeatman here.
Philbin was a second-team All-American in lacrosse and a tackle for Navy football in the 1960s.
Lacrosse: The Haverford School (Pa.)
Football: Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Virginia
Barker was a three-year starting defenseman for The Haverford School (Pa.), and won a state championship as a senior in 2005. He went on to play offensive line at Virginia, starting 49 games, before spending two and a half years in the NFL playing for three different teams. After he was released by the Dolphins in 2012, he decided to seriously pursue an interest in art. Check him out at willbarkerart.com.
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