To celebrate Super Bowl Week, America Domani analyzed thousands of players, coaches and front-office executives of Italian descent throughout the history of the NFL. We selected one for each of the 32 teams who made the greatest impact on their NFL franchise.
Click on the names below to learn about the Italians who blazed a trail for each NFL franchise and be sure to take our quiz here to test your knowledge of how well you know these figures.
The AFC East is rich with Italian American legends and lots of Super Bowl rings. Adam Vinatieri was as synonymous with winning as anyone during the New England Patriots dominance of the AFC East. Bill Parcells was the son of an Italian American mother and would go on to coach the New York Giants to two Super Bowl championships and take the New York Jets from a laughing stock to a contender. Dan Marino is the all-time leading Italian American passer and Phil Villapiano, while best known for his time in Oakland, finished his career in Buffalo.
Joe Flacco remains one of only a few quarterbacks of Italian heritage to win a Super Bowl. The late Franco Harris is perhaps one of the greatest Italian American football players of all-time. The Cincinnati Bengals’ Massimo Manca was born in Sardegna. Sam Rutigliano coached the Cleveland Browns for six years in the 1970s and 1980s.
The AFC South is home to one of the NFL’s few Italian American Top 3 draft picks in Tony Boselli. The Colts’ Gino Marchetti was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. Way before they were known as the Tennessee Titans, Dan Pastorini was leading the Houston Oilers as their starting quarterback. Although best known for his time in New England, Danny Amendola finished his career with the Houston Texans in 2021.
The late Daryle Lamonica is perhaps the greatest quarterback in Raiders history. Although he was never able to reach a Super Bowl with the Chiefs, Dick Vermeil is the only Italian American coach to win and lose a Super Bowl. Joey Bosa was the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and continues to lead the Chargers defense to this day. Joe Rizzo was a linebacker who was a starter in Super Bowl XII for the Broncos.
Marc Bavaro is known as one of the greatest New York Giants of all time and a staple of Big Blue’s 1980s offense. Mark Colombo was a mainstay on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line of the late 2000s. Lou Giammona was an Italian American running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. The late Vince Promuto was born in the Bronx and would later become one of the greatest Washington football players in franchise history.
The Super Bowl trophy is named after legendary Italian American football coach Vince Lombardi. Although he is best known as a coach, Jack Del Rio previously was a Pro Bowl selection when he was a player for the Minnesota Vikings. Dominic Raiola’s career spanned over a decade for the Detroit Lions, an impressive feat for any NFL player. Joe Fortunato played for 11 years with the Bears before becoming a coach in Chicago.
Vinny Testaverde is the only Italian American to ever be selected first overall in the NFL Draft. Coach Jim Mora had a successful run in New Orleans and is perhaps best known for his “playoffs” rant when he was head coach of the Colts. Joe Vellano is a former Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots who also played against the Patriots in the Super Bowl as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Rob Petitti was an important piece of the Carolina Panthers offensive line in the late 2000s.
The NFC West is the proud home to one of the greatest Italian American quarterbacks of all time, Joe Montana. Vince Ferragamo led the Rams to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in 1980. The late Charley Trippi was an NFL champion in the pre-Super Bowl era for the Cardinals, who were based in Chicago at the time. Breno Giacomini is of Italian Brazilian descent and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers before signing with the Seattle Seahawks in subsequent seasons.
Think you know the Italians in the NFL?