Since Sid Luckman, the NFL has not seen its share of great Jewish players. Julian Edelman, Taylor Mays and a slew of offensive linemen have recently sparked our interest, but not too long ago, there was a man under center who was all the craze. His name was Jay Fiedler.
Fiedler revived the Miami Dolphins franchise, which showed signs of life for the first time in the years following Dan Marino. We recently got in touch with Fiedler, who not only has a great football story, but is an overall great guy.
1. What got you involved in football?
I grew up on sports. From the time I was 5 years old, I played every sport possible. At age 6, I began playing football, mainly because my older brother was playing in the town’s youth league. I started as a running back my first couple years playing, then became a quarterback at age 8 and stayed at that position ever since. I played all sports, but football became my favorite because of the intense physical and mental challenges it offers as well as the many team focused aspects that the game teaches so well.
2. What was your experience playing in the Ivy League?
I went to Dartmouth College because of many reasons. First and foremost was to get a great education. Athletically, I wanted a place where I could participate in both football and track and field and Dartmouth not only allowed, but encouraged many of their athletes to play multiple sports. My experience on the football field at Dartmouth was great. The Ivy League, despite the perception, is an incredibly competitive brand of football with very talented players. Of course, winning league titles during my time made the experience extra special.
3. Was it a tough transition to the NFL?
The NFL game is played so much faster than at any level of college football. For me, I was always able to process information very quickly, so I was able to transition my game on the field quick. The hardest thing for me was getting my opportunity to perform and climb the ranks. It took a long time and lots of persistence, but I finally got an opportunity to compete for a starting job six years after graduating college and made the most of it when I took over the starting job in Miami in 2000.
4. You took off with the Dolphins; why did you find so much success in Miami?
I had learned so much from many coaches and teammates I played with prior to joining the Dolphins and when I finally got my opportunity to prove myself with Miami, I felt I was extremely prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. Coach Wannstedt believed in me as his starter and I quickly earned the respect of my teammates in the locker room and on the field.
5. What have you been doing since your NFL days?
I became involved in a few entrepreneurial pursuits, including owning and operating a minor league basketball team, before finally settling into my family’s business of running summer and sports camps along with my older brother Scott.
6. Tell us about Camp Brookwood.
The Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps is a summer sleep-away camp which combines the best of a traditional camp with the best features of a sports camp. We are bringing in world-class instructors no other traditional camp can attract to teach our campers in a number of different sports and activities while also offering the camaraderie and fun activities a traditional camp offers. Campers can learn football from former professional players, baseball from Leo Mazzone (former Atlanta Braves pitching coach), soccer from instructors who work with Manchester United’s Youth Development Program, basketball from two former Division I college coaches, and many more amazing instructors in tennis, dance, sports broadcasting and more. The best way to find out about our camp is to watch our videos on our website at www.brookwoodcamps.com/video
7. What was your Jewish involvement as a child?
I was raised as a Reform Jew and received bar mitzvah at Temple Avodah in Oceanside, NY. I remain very proud of my Jewish heritage today.
8. What is your favorite Jewish tradition?
My favorite tradition is spending Yom Kippur with family. While the fast can be a bit difficult, I enjoy spending time with family and feasting on a wonderful spread at sundown.
9. Who is the greatest defensive player you played against? Why?
The best defensive player I played against was Ray Lewis. He had all the physical tools to make every play on the field, whether blitz the QB, stuffing the run, or dropping into coverage. He also was incredibly instinctual and smart on the field which gave him the ability to get to the ball faster than any other linebacker I ever played against.
10. Manning or Brady? Why?
So hard to choose. Both are so smart and in command of the game. If I had to choose, I would pick Brady based on the overall battles we had in Miami against him. Throughout his career he has shown an ability to keep his offense at an elite level despite the fact that so many of his offensive teammates have changed over the years.
11. Anything else you'd like to add?
In addition to running The Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps during the summer time, I also really enjoy working with and coaching football players throughout the fall, winter and spring at the many passing clinics and training session I run through my Prime Time Sports Camp brand (www.primetimecamps.com). I am currently coaching up a few college players trying to make the jump to the pro level as well as many youth and high school players in my weekly clinics. Coaching these guys and watching them go on to success on and off the field has given me some great pleasures.