“I was an All-State quarterback right outside of Chicago, Illinois,” Duda says. “Northwestern really wanted me to punt more than play quarterback so it made the decision to come to Harvard pretty easy.”
Whereas Fitzpatrick has never looked back—running off staggering statistics in his four seasons since joining Tim Murphy’s Crimson squad from Arizona—Duda quit football after his freshman season and makes up a proud segment of the population who call themselves ex-footballers.
“I injured my throwing shoulder during my freshman year and as a result decided together with the coaches to stop playing,” Duda says.
Whether due to injury, exhaustion, or their interests in other academic or extracurricular pursuits, quite a few of the guys who sit next to you in Bio-Anthro lecture, in the dining hall, and in yes, the library, used to play Harvard football. I only talked to three of them in particular for this article, yet I believe they encompass a wide range of the ex-footballers on campus.
“It’s too bad that that particular part of my life is over since it’s something that I really enjoyed,” junior Ferdinand Carmine Martignetti says. “I was recruited as a cornerback after playing mostly corner and special teams in high school but was almost immediately converted to strong safety after my arrival. Shortly thereafter—thanks to a massive muscle gain—I was moved to middle linebacker.”
Well, in the immortal words of Jake Taylor in Major League—you may be a couple of ‘has-beens’ guys—but at least it’s better than being a ‘never will be’ on the sports field, like yours truly. Few members of the population realize that the Kirkland resident—affectionately known to his friends as ‘Freddie’—used to be a beast of a man who trudged across the river during his freshman year to bench and squat as much as was humanly possible. Though the outgoing ‘Italian Stallion’ grin has never left his face, Martignetti’s beastly 200-plus pound frame has been reduced to a timid 165 pounds.
“I never really wanted to change positions but I was always happy to do whatever the coaches asked of me,” Martignetti says. He admits though that he “was always much happier playing football when [he] was playing in the secondary.”
And playing in the secondary has never been difficult for Martignetti. During his prolific high school career at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., the Chestnut Hill resident racked up impressive numbers in three seasons, despite playing with a vast number of students taking post-graduate seasons. In the final game of his career against PA’s archrival—Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire—Martignetti dominated, picking off two passes on his way to leading Phillips Andover to victory in the oldest high school football rivalry in the nation.
As Martignetti realized that the opportunity to play in the secondary was slipping away during his freshman year, he found that “his skills at linebacker were not as strong.”
“It became apparent that football would no longer be a positive aspect of my Harvard experience,” Martignetti says.