John Carroll University’s growing legacy in the National Football League (NFL) continues this season with 11 Blue Streaks on the sidelines or front office for seven teams in the expanded 14-team format for the 2020 NFL Playoffs.
JCU alums have been on the playing field, sidelines, and front office for 23 of 54 Super Bowls.With representatives on half of this year’s NFL playoff teams, the odds are favorable that a Blue Streak will be in the Super Bowl for a fifth consecutive year.
Even JCU alumni not in the playoffs are making a splash. Nick Caserio ‘98 is set to become the next general manager of the Houston Texans, becoming the third Blue Streak to ascend to GM status, following Tom Telesco ‘95 (LA Chargers) and David Caldwell ‘96 (formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars).
Many local JCU alumni will be rooting for the hometown Cleveland Browns against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The Browns have two JCU connections in scout assistants Scott DiBendetto ‘13 and Joe Dever. DiBendetto played defensive line for John Carroll, while Joe Dever was a defensive coach at JCU for a pair of seasons as a graduate assistant. And with head coach Kevin Stefanski out due to Covid-19, the interim head coach will be Mike Priefer, who has a JCU connection. Mike is the son of JCU alum and former Lions special teams coach Chuck Priefer ‘63.
A fellow AFC North member, the Baltimore Ravens, also employ two proud Blue Streaks. Greg Roman ‘94 is the offensive coordinator for the Ravens, leading one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL. Pat Moriarity ‘93G, the Ravens’ senior vice president of football administration, has also helped Baltimore reach the Wild Card round against the Tennessee Titans.
JCU alumni will go head-to-head in the Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills game that kicks off Wild Card weekend on Saturday afternoon. Frank Ross ‘10 works as an assistant special teams coach for the Colts, while Joe Micca ‘10 is a physical therapist for the Bills.
Jalen Myrick ‘19 and the Kansas City Chiefs will have a bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Myrick, a player personnel assistant, and Danny Markino ‘18 (now football communications coordinator with the Los Angeles Chargers) earned Super Bowl rings last season with the Chiefs.
In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams fought into the playoffs on Sunday. Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley --JCU’s defensive coordinator for three seasons -- has brought his advanced approach to LA and befuddled opposing offenses all season long. As a result, he’s become a hot commodity in coaching searches, earning a potential interview with the New York Jets. Jonathan Cooley ‘11 (defensive assistant) and former JCU coach Chris Shula (outside linebackers coach) are members of Staley’s staff. Both have bright NFL futures, as well.
Finally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back in the playoffs after a lengthy absence. Chief Ticketing Officer Ben Milsom ‘01 is a valuable asset to the Bucs’ front office. He will be hoping that Tom Brady can lead the Bucs back to the Super Bowl for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.
John Carroll University Alumni in 2020 NFL Playoffs
Greg Roman ’94 Baltimore Ravens, Offensive Coordinator
Pat Moriarty ’93G Baltimore Ravens, SVP of Football Administration
Brandon Staley ^ LA Rams, Defensive Coordinator
Frank Ross ’10 ^ Indianapolis Colts, Assistant Special Teams Coach
Jonathan Cooley '11 ^ LA Rams, Defensive Assistant
Chris Shula ^ LA Rams, OLB Coach
Joe Micca '10 Buffalo Bills, Physical Therapist
Scott DiBenedetto ’13 Cleveland Browns, Scout Assistant
Joe Dever ^ Cleveland Browns, Scout Assistant
Jalen Myrick ’19 Kansas City Chiefs, Player Personnel Assistant
Ben Milsom ’01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chief Ticketing Officer