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Italian American Stars of the NFL: AFC West

This Sunday, February 12th, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs go head to head 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 West.

Denver Broncos: Joe Rizzo

Joe Rizzo was a linebacker for the Denver Broncos from 1974 until 1980. Rizzo started in Super Bowl XII for the Broncos and was a member of the “Orange Crush” defense. This defense was rated the ninth-best linebacking core by the NFL. Over the course of his career, he would have 9 interceptions. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Dick Vermeil 

Dick Vermeil got his start coaching as the assistant coach for Del Mar High School in San Jose, CA in 1959. He became the head football coach at Napa Junior College leading the team to the best record in the school’s history. In 1976, he was hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for six years. He began his tenure with two losing seasons and had his breakout season in 1978. He turned around the team and took the Eagles to their first playoffs in over 18 seasons. After a brief hiatus from coaching, Vermeil joined as a coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he would build some of the team’s best offense and defense. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Daryle Lamonica

Daryle Lamonica grew up in the Central Valley of California to Italian and Irish parents. He was drafted in the 1963 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills in the 24th round as well as by the Green Bay Packers in the 12th round of the same draft. He chose the Bills over the Packers, where he believed he had a better chance. In 1967, he was traded to the then-Oakland Raiders where he would see his career high of 221 completions, 426 attempts, 3,302 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. Lamonica helped the Raiders win four straight Western Divisional titles and one American Football League Championship. 

Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa

Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Joey Bosa is the son of ex-NFLer John Bosa and the older brother to San Francisco 49ers player Nick Bosa. He was drafted in the first round by the then-San Diego Chargers. He had an impressive rookie season with 41 tackles, 10.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa has made it to the Pro Bowl four times. 

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