All-Time Alabama Crimson Tide Players in the NFL
Kristi F. Patick
Who was the first Alabama football player to suit up for a team in the National Football League?
It kind of depends.
Although the roots of the league date back to the 1890s, most recognize that it was founded in 1920. Playing under the banner of the American Professional Football Association (APFA), with ten teams from four states, a lot of the information from the early years remains vague and sometimes inaccurate.
Record keeping was not the forte of the original owners, so a lot has been lost over the years. Disputes were common, statistics weren't kept and the idea of a media guide was laughable.
Numerous pro football leagues had formed over the years, but the NFL was the one to eventually stick and emerge. Only two original franchises, the Decatur Staleys (which became the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals), are still around.
A year later, 1921, the Green Bay Acme Packers, joined the league.
It's with that disclaimer in mind that we offer an answer. The first Alabama player on record as having played in the league was tackle Ben Hunt, who was with the Toledo Maroons in 1923.
Although the Maroons were considered a surprise team while contending the previous year, they didn't catch anyone by surprise and finished 3-3-2. Their first win of season was 7-0 against the Oorang Indians based out of Marion, Ohio. Coached by Jim Thorpe, they only played road games.
Toledo closed the season with a 28-0 drubbing on Thanksgiving Day at the hands of the champion Canton Bulldogs (11-0-1).
Obviously there were no stats applied to Hunt, who at age 22 was listed as being 5-foot-9, 185 pounds.
Yes, tackle. That wasn't a typo.
Let's just say the game has changed a little over the years.
Here's everyone from the Alabama Crimson Tide who has played in the league, from Ray Abruzzese to Sid Youngelman.
Note: To count on the all-time roster a player had to have been actually active on the roster (the definition has changed over the years, but usually involves playing a game). Practice squads are not part of a team's official roster.
Note: This listing is unique to BamaCentral. If you wish to use the information we politely ask that you give credit as it required a lot of work to put together and more to maintain. It will be regularly updated.