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NFL Players Who Have Lived in Essex County

by Samantha Impaglia
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Football season is back in action, so let’s talk about some NFL players who have the city of Montclair in their history. Whether they were born there, attended one of the town’s schools, or lived there at some point in their lives, all of these football players have the city close to them in some way. Read on to learn more about some of Montclair’s. 

Tim Berra

(Photo credit: UMass Amherst)

Son of baseball great and long-time Montclair resident Yogi Berra, Tim Berra was drafted 421st overall at the 1974 NFL Draft and later signed by the Baltimore Colts. Although he only played 14 games in the league before being released in 1975, his last name will always be known in the town he grew up in. Berra chose to reside in West Caldwell after and stay in North Jersey.

David Caldwell

(Photo credit: @ohgi_bigfish)

A born and raised Montclair resident, David Caldwell played 16 games for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2011-2012 season. He played football at Montclair High School before taking a postgraduate year to play at the Lawrenceville School in Mercer County and eventually continued his play at William and Mary University. Caldwell did end up with the New York Giants after signing there in 2013 but was cut from the team before he could step on the field. He has 41 recorded solo tackles with the Colts over the span of his time with the team.

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Sean Jones

(Photo credit: @realseanjones)

Sean Jones is a Jamaican-born defensive end who attended Montclair Kimberley Academy for high school before continuing his football career at Northeastern University. From 1984-1996, he played four seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, six with the Houston Oilers, and three with the Green Bay Packers. . Jones has 601 combined tackles in 201 games played, along with a Super Bowl XXXI title with the Packers in 1997. He retired after the championship with Green Bay and has since worked on sports radio.

Jeff Mills

(Photo credit: Denver Broncos)

Jeff Mills was born in Montclair and attended Montclair High School before continuing his football career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The linebacker played four seasons in the NFL from 1990-1993 after being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1990. Aside from San Diego, he played the majority of his 46-game career with the Denver Broncos. Mills was also a member of the New York Giants for a bit but never played a game with them.

Sam Mills

(Photo credit: New Orleans Saints)

Sam Mills was born in Neptune City and grew up in Long Branch before deciding to attend Montclair State University from 1977-1980. He’s known to be one of the best football players to come out of the school, and a residence hall is named after him on the MSU campus. Although he passed in 2005, Mills still holds two football records at Montclair State: most tackles in a single game (22), and most tackles in a career (501). Mills was decorated with eight various honors within the Division III football community and eventually went on to play for the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, recording more than 1,300 tackles over the span of his 12-season career. Despite being an undersized player, Mills was inducted into the Montclair State Athletics Hall of Fame and is the only player from the university in the College Football Hall of Fame.

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Michael Strahan

(Photo credit: @michaelstrahan)

This decorated defensive end played 15 seasons with the New York Giants after being drafted by the team in 1993, staying the entirety of his career. Although he was born in Houston and played for Texas Southern University, Strahan resided in a multi-million dollar Montclair house during his tenure with the Giants. Since his professional football career ended, he’s transitioned to TV, working as an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday as well as a co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America. Strahan is a Super Bowl XLII champion, set an NFL record for most sacks in a season in 2001 (22.5), was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year that season and led the league in sacks in 2003 with 18.5.

David Tyree

(Photo credit: @dtyree85)

David Tyree saw 83 games in the NFL, all but 10 with the New York Giants. The former wide receiver played with the G-Men from 2003-2007 and with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 before ending his professional career with the Giants on a one-day contract that year. Tyree was born in Livingston but grew up in Montclair, also attending Montclair High School and playing football there before continuing at Syracuse University. Super Bowl XLII was one Tyree will never forget. After catching a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to give the Giants a 10-7 lead, Tyree made what is known as “The Helmet Catch” with just over a minute left that led the Giants to win the game. The play in which he used his helmet to help secure the ball is regarded as one of the best plays in Super Bowl History.

Lonnie Wright

(Photo credit: Colorado State)

Lonnie Wright was born in Newark and attended Malcolm X Shabazz High School before going across the country to begin his athletic career at Colorado State University. However, Lonnie didn’t start with football, he actually joined the Men’s track and field team in which he broke the shot put record. Then Lonnie went on to become the third professional athlete in history to be in both football and basketball at the same time. He went off to play for the Denver Broncos for two years before deciding to leave and continue his basketball career with the Denver Rockets. In 2012, Lonnie died in South Orange, NJ after living a very fulfilling athletic career.

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