Greatest NorCal NFL Players

Over the years California has produced countless athletes that have gone on to have extremely successful careers in their chosen sport. Football has always been extremely popular in the Golden State, and many of the game’s elite players started their journey right there. There is an overwhelming number of fantastic schools across the state, such as Long Beach Poly, Dorsey of Los Angeles, and De La Salle in Concord, just a few of the many quality education facilities that have been continually producing tomorrow’s superstars on a regular basis over the last century.

A player’s early career in football can be so critical when it comes to a his development in the game. All across the country, thousands of dedicated coaches and parents are shaping their children’s future by giving them amazing opportunities to fulfill their dreams and potential. Looking back on the talent that these coaching staffs across the state have produced, it’s fantastic to see the future of the sport is in good hands.

Let’s take a look back at some of the greatest players who started their football journey at California schools. The list is for Northern Californi schools only is based mostly upon what they have achieved since leaving.

Tom Brady – Serra High, San Mateo

Brady’s first taste of competitive football was at Serra High, where he got his chance on the field after the starting quarterback received an injury. He instantly became the varsity starter and easily held on to the position until graduation. During the 1993-94 seasons, he threw for 3,524 yards and 33 touchdowns.

In addition to football, San Mateo Serra’s Tom Brady also was an outstanding catcher on the baseball team. Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

After school, he headed to the University of Michigan but found it hard to get game time early on. However, during his last two years, he became the starting quarterback, leading the Wolverines to 20 wins and finishing his time there ranked third in the school’s history with 710 attempts and 442 completions.

In 2000, Brady was selected by the New England Patriots as the 199th overall pick in the sixth round and was the starter by his second year with the squad. He has remained at the organization ever since and has had the most successful quarterback career in NFL history. He was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and has a massive 12 Pro Bowl honors. The veteran quarterback has also received two First Team All-Pro selections in 2007 and 2010. The 40-year old has guided the Patriots to five Super Bowl victories, four in which Brady has been named MVP.

New England is looking like the front-runners once again this season, with consistently having them as the favorite from week to week. If the team can win another championship with Brady at the helm, he will have won more Super Bowls than any other player in history.

Jim Plunkett – James Lick, San Jose

Hey, put this guy in the Hall of Fame already. Plunkett was a hero around the Bay Area while in High School and led his team to dominant records of 9-0 and 9-1. He threw for a 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior and shattered numerous records along the way. Plunkett also was a top wrestler.

He attended Stanford University where his offensive displays led to the Washington State coach Jim Sweeney calling him the best college football player he’d ever seen. In 1970, he won the Heisman Trophy and was a Maxwell Award recipient, an honor for being the best in the nation. The talented youngster also took Stanford to a Rose Bowl where it defeated heavily favored Ohio State for the championship.

In 1971, Plunkett was drafted by the Patriots as the No. 1 overall draft pick before moving to the San Francisco 49ers, and eventually finishing his career with the Raiders. He led Oakland to two Super Bowl championships in 1980 and 1983, earning himself the MVP in Super Bowl XV. He also holds the league record for the longest pass in NFL history, a 99-yard throw against the Washington Redskins during the 1983 season.

Dan Fouts – St Ignatius, San Francisco

Fouts originally went to Marin Catholic High School before transferring to St. Ignatius for his final two years. He became an instant hit with the supporters and the school recently retired his number.

He then accepted a scholarship from the University of Oregon, where he went on to set a phenomenal 19 school records. His career passing yardage of 5,995 and total offense of 5,871 has still never been matched and earned him a spot in the University of Oregon Hall of Fame.

The San Diego Chargers selected Fouts in the third round and he went on to play all 15 years of his football career with the organization. He was one of the greatest passing quarterbacks to play the game and was the first person in the NFL to record more than 4,000 yards throwing for three seasons in a row. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Fouts is a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade team, and in 1993 was deservedly inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gino Marchetti – Antioch, Contra Costa County

Gino went to Antioch High School before enlisting in the Army, which saw him fight in the second World War. Upon his return, he joined the football program at the University of San Francisco where he was a part of the famous undefeated season of 1951. The New York Yanks, who would later become the Baltimore Colts, drafted the player in the second round.

He spent 13 years with the organization and helped them to back-to-back NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959. Marchetti is highly considered to have been one of the best defensive ends to have ever played in the NFL and was voted ‘the greatest defensive end in pro football history’ by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. A nine-time All-Pro player, he also went on to receive 11 Pro-Bowl selections over a stellar 15-year career.

These players were amazing talents who spent their childhood attending prep school in this great state. However, now we look forward to the future and the rising stars of tomorrow, wondering how successful they will be during their own football careers. With seniors prospects such as Amon-Ra St. Brown from Mater Del of Santa Ana and Isaac Taylor-Stuart from Helix of La Mesa, the sport’s longevity in the state seems to be in extremely safe hands.

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  1. James
    Posted December 24, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    No Aaron rogers?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t do that writeup myself and didn’t fix it. Aaron would/should be on that list.

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