Italian Americans of Long Island: NFL Players

This is the latest in a new series about important Italian American figures on Long Island.

Long Island can’t claim Vince Lombardi or Joe Montana, but plenty of Italian Americans from the area played and coached in the NFL. As we celebrate Super Bowl Sunday, let’s look at the notable names to grace the gridiron from Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The best to hail from Long Island is Vinny Testaverde. The pride of Sewanhaka High School played more than 20 years in the NFL, including for his hometown, New York Jets, from 1998 through 2005. He had over 46,000 passing yards and 275 touchdown passes in his career.

Lyle Alzado, a dominant defensive end who graduated from Lawrence High School, helped the Raiders win Super Bowl XVIII in 1984. He played 15 seasons in the NFL with Denver, Cleveland, and Los Angeles and was a three-time All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection.

There have been at least 10 players of Italian heritage from Long Island to play in the NFL, and many others who signed contracts with teams but were cut or played briefly on practice squads.

Italian American NFL players from Long Island include:

Lyle AlzadoLawrenceBroncos, Browns, Raiders
Bob AvelliniNew Hyde ParkBears, Jets
Joe ChietiNorth BabylonBills
Lou D’AgostinoLawrenceJets
J.P. FoschiChaminadeRaiders, Chiefs, Bengals
Phil La PortaValley Stream CentralSaints
Gary MarangiElmontBills
Shane OliveaLawrenceChargers
Ralph PerrettaHoly TrinityChargers, Giants
Vinny TestaverdeSewanhaka7 teams

RELATED: Learn about the first Italian American Congressman

RELATED: Learn about the first Italian American on Long Island

Chris R. Vaccaro is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Italian American Heritage Society of Long Island. He is a media executive, professor, historian, and author from Long Island. If you have a suggestion on who we should profile next, emailĀ [email protected].