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Though the Harvard football season opener is just 11 short days away, for some ex-Crimson players, the season begins even sooner. Four Harvard alums are on active NFL rosters right now, and at least one of them is likely to start this weekend’s opener. Let’s take a quick look around the league:
James Williams ’10, tackle, Indianapolis
Williams signed with the Colts last month after first inking a contract with Tampa Bay after April’s NFL Draft. He’ll be fighting for playing time at tackle for the defending AFC champions—a program that is very familiar with Harvard players. Clifton Dawson ’07 played for Indianapolis for two seasons, while Andrew Berry ’09 works in the front office as a scouting assistant.
Chris Pizzotti ’08-’09, quarterback
Pizzotti was released by Green Bay in May after being on the Packers’ practice squad since December. He remains unsigned heading into the 2010 season.
Desmond Bryant ’09, defensive tackle, Oakland
Bryant played in all 16 games for the Raiders in his rookie season, making a combined 32 tackles and forcing a fumble. He started two preseason games for Oakland, with his best performance—six tackles, five of which were solo—coming in a 32-17 win over Chicago.
Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05, quarterback, Buffalo
After spending the bulk of his first three pro seasons on the bench, Fitzpatrick has become more of a regular fixture in the NFL in the last two years. He started 12 games for Cincinnati in 2008, completing 59.4% of his passes for eight touchdowns, and then started eight games for the Bills last year, racking up 1,422 yards and throwing nine touchdowns. He’ll start the season as the backup to Trent Edwards.
Matt Birk ’98, center, Baltimore
Easily the most accomplished of the current Harvard NFL players, Birk is entering his 13th professional season and is a six-time Pro Bowler. He’s started every game for the last four seasons and is in the second year of a three-year deal with the Ravens, after spending the first 12 seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.
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