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slides: The 15 Greatest NFL Players from Central MA

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Last week, three Central Massachusetts football stars showcased their talents to coaches, general managers, and scouts at the NFL Combine in the hopes that they might be drafted on NFL draft day. If selected, Rob Blanchflower, Richard Rodgers, and Yawin Smallwood, would join the ranks of NFL greats like Patriots Hall of Famer Jon Morris and two-time Super Bowl Champion John Fitzgerald--both of whom once called Central MA home.

With that in mind, GoLocal has assembled a list of 15 of the greatest NFL players from Central MA. Did you favorite football player make the list? Check out the slideshow below to find out.

And don't forget to watch the NFL Draft on May 8-10 to find out if our three local heroes are chosen.

Click here to read GoLocal Sports Reporter Matt LaPan's profile of Blanchflower, Rodgers, and Smallwood. Also, don't forget to watch the NFL Draft on May 8-10 to find out if our three local heroes are chosen.


Related Slideshow: The Greatest NFL Players from Central MA

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Jon Morris

Washington, DC
Position: Center
College: Holy Cross
Teams: Boston/New England Patriots (1964-1974), Detroit Lions (1975-77), Chicago Bears (1978)

One of the best football players in Holy Cross history, Morris was the Washington Daily News's Athlete of the Year in 1960 and the Holy Cross Varsity CLub Athlete of the Year and Lineman of the Year in 1963. He played 15 seasons in the NFL, including 11 with the New England Patriots. After retiring, Morris served as the color commentator for Patriots radio broadcasts and as an NFL analyst for NBC. Morris was elected to the New England Patriot Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Jerry Azumah

Oklahoma City, OK
Position: Cornerback
College: University of New Hampshire
Teams: Chicago Bears (1999-2005)

Azumah was born in Oklahoma, but grew up in Worcester where he played for the Worcester Vikings Pop Warner football team. He went on to attend Worcester's Saint Peter-Marian High School. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, Azumha played 7 seasons with the Chicago Bears, including an All Pro season in 2003.

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Jacques Cesaire

Gardner, MA
Position: Defensive End
College: Southern Connecticut State
Teams: San Diego Chargers (2003-12)

A three sport athlete in high school, Cesaire letted in football, track, and basketball while attending Gardner High School. He would go on to play for Southern Connecticut State University where he was named the Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Lineman of the year in 2002. Cesaire played 9 seasons in the NFL, recording a 217 tackles and 12.5 sacks.

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Tom McCauley

Worcester, MA
Position: Defensive Back
College(s): University of Wisconsin, University of North Carolina
Teams: Atlanta Falcons (1969-1971)

This Worcester native was drafted in the 10th round of the 1969 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and would go on to play three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. McCauley had two interceptions and scored one touchdown during his tenure in the NFL.

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John Fitzgerald

Southbridge, MA
Position: Center
College: Boston College
Teams: Dallas Cowboys (1971-1980)

Prior to playing center for the Dallas Cowboys, Fitzgerald was a 300-pound fullback for Southbridge High School. He played 138 games in the NFL and helped the Cowboys to two Super Bowl Championships in 1971 and 1977.

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Jim Pyne

Milford, MA
Position: Offensive Lineman
College: Virginia Tech
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-97), Detroit Lions (1998), Cleveland Browns (1999-2000), Philadelphia Eagles (2001)

This Milford High School graduate was selected a Unanimous All-America in 1993 while attending Virginia Tech. Pyne went on to play 81 games in the NFL and was named to the Muscle and Fitness NFL All Strength Team three times.

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Don McCauley

Worcester, MA
Position: Running Back
College: University of North Carolina
Teams: Baltimore Colts (1971-1981)

This Worcester native was a two-time Conference Player of the Year and a two-time First Team All-Conference selection during his time at the University of North Carolina. During his 11-season NFL career, McCauley ran for over 2,600 yards and scored 40 touchdowns.

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Ike Frankian

Worcester, MA
Position: End
College: St. Mary's College (Cal.)
Teams: Boston Redskins (1933), New York Giants (1934-35), Los Angeles Bulldogs (1936-39)

A native of Worcester, Frankian played 7 seasons in the NFL and coached 11 seasons. He won an NFL Championship in 1934 as a member of the Giants. Interestingly, Frankian was a player/coach in the final two seasons of his NFL career.

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Vinnie Yablonski

Worcester, MA
Position: Fullback
College: Columbia University
Teams: Chicago Cardinals (1948-1951)

Yablonski, a native of Worcester played 40 NFL games for the Chicago Cardinals. As a fullback, he rushed for 460 career yards and scored one touchdown.

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Chandler Fenner

Virginia Beach, VA
Position: Cornerback
College: Holy Cross
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs (2012), Seattle Seahawks (2013-present)

This Holy Cross standout won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Seattle Seahawks practice squad in February 2014. Fenner was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

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Francis Garvey

Worcester, MA
Position: End
College: Holy Cross
Teams: Providence Steam Rollers (1925-26)

Garvey, a native of Worcester and graduate of Holy Cross played two seasons in NFL for the Providence Steam Rollers. He scored two touchdowns in his 19 career games. 

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Brian Herosian

Worcester, MA
Position: Defensive Back
College: Worcester Academy
Teams: Baltimore Colts (1973)

This three-sport athlete excelled at Worcester Academy playing football, basketball, and baseball. He played one season in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts, and would go on to play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Canadian Football League.

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Gene Filipski

Webster, MA
Position: Halfback
College: Villanova University
Teams: New York Giants (1956-57)

Filipski, a native of Worcester played 24 games in the NFL games for the New York Giants. He averaged 5 yards per carry and scored one touchdown.

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Bob White

Fitchburg, MA
Position: Center/Offensive Guard
College: University of Rhode Island
Teams: Dallas Cowboys (1987-89)

Born in Fitchburg, White was a star player at Lunenburg High School and later at the University of Rhode Island. He would go on to play 24 games in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys.

Photo: Flickr/Ray Bouknight

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Bruce Kozerski

Plains, PA
Position: Center
College: Holy Cross
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals (1984-1995)

A star on the football field and in the classroom, Kozerski was named a first team All American and a first team Academic All-American in his senior year at Holy Cross. He went on to played 12 years with the Cincinnati Bengals and played in the Super Bowl in 1989.


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