Ray Abruzzese

Raymond Lewis Abruzzese, Jr. (October 27, 1937 – August 22, 2011) was an American college and professional football player.

Abruzzese was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A defensive back, he played college football at the University of Alabama, and played professionally in the American Football League for the Buffalo Bills from 1962 through 1964, when the Bills won the AFL Championship game, 20–7, over the defending AFL champion San Diego Chargers. He also played for the AFL's New York Jets in 1965 and 1966.

Though it is little-known by today's Professional Football fans, Ray Abruzzese had a major impact on the growth of modern Professional Football. He roomed with Joe Namath when both were at Alabama. When Namath was deciding between signing with the NFL's Cardinals or the AFL's Jets, he told Jets owner Sonny Werblin that he would lean toward the Jets if they would acquire Ray Abruzzese. Bills owner Ralph Wilson cooperated and, for the good of the league, traded Abruzzese to the Jets, who under Namath's leadership went on to defeat the NFL's overrated Baltimore Colts in the third AFL-NFL World Championship game.

Abruzzese died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aged 73.

By Dean Hanley

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