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Italian American Stars of the NFL: AFC South

The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will meet at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona to play in Super Bowl LVII. America Domani is looking back on players, coaches, and front-office executives of Italian descent through the ages. 

Below are the names of the greatest Italian football players of the AFC South:

Houston Texans: Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola is of Italian descent through his father, Willie Amendola, who was the head coach at Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas. Danny started for The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, leading his football team to the first-ever Texas State Championship. Amendola finished high school with 1,045 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. He played most of his career with the New England Patriots, winning 2 Super Bowls. In 2021, he signed a one-year contract with the Houston Texans, recording 24 receptions for 248 yards. In July 2022, he announced his NFL retirement. 

Indianapolis Colts: Gino Marchetti

Gino Marchetti is the son of Italian immigrants, Ernesto and Maria Marchetti. After returning home from World War II, Marchetti enrolled at the University of San Francisco and joined the football team. The same year he joined the team they went undefeated. Marchetti was drafted 14th overall in the 1952 NFL Draft by the New York Yanks. The Yanks would eventually become the Baltimore Colts and Marchetti played 13 seasons with the franchise. Marchetti led the Colts to win the 1958 and 1959 NFL Championships. He is enshrined in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame and is also a member of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Tony Boselli

Don Bosco Anthony Boselli Jr, better known as Tony Boselli, was a football tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars for 7 seasons. Boselli was the first player drafted by the Jaguars and was selected second overall in the 1995 NFL draft. He established himself as one of the most productive and popular players in the franchise. Boselli would go on to play in 5 Pro Bowls, 3 first-team All-Pro teams, and appeared in 2 AFC Championship games. 

Tennessee Titans: Dan Pastorini

Born Dante Anthony Pastorini, Dan Pastorini played for 13 seasons with the Houston Oilers, the team who would eventually become the Tennessee Titans. Pastorini was a tough quarterback, playing through injuries such as broken ribs and punctured lungs. He would go on to win Super Bowl XV, as well as play in the 1975 Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame and has been named an honorary Texan.

AJ Forrisi

Assistant Editor for America Domani, AJ Forrisi is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on food, travel, sports, landscapes, and urban scenes. You can find him on Instagram @aj.photo.works