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Joseph Alexander

Enshrined 1986

Joseph Alexander, Syracuse University’s first three-time All-American, was a football trail-blazer as he was the first professional player to play "roving center," the position now known as linebacker.


Alexander won All-American honors three straight years at guard (1918-1919) and at center (1920). He was a two-year captain for SU and he also captained the lacrosse team for one season.


There were many highlights during Alexander’s career at SU. In 1918 against Rutgers, Alexander picked up a loose ball and ran 75 yards for a touchdown. He starred in a 1919 win over Pittsburgh, handing the Panthers their first loss in four years. Against Colgate in 1920 he lined up on defense on the one-yard line. Colgate ran four plays. Alexander made the tackle on the first three plays and intercepted a pass on the fourth. At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Walter Camp called him "a whirlwind with weight." In 1937, the New York World-Telegram named him on an all-time All-America team.


From 1921 to 1927, Alexander played in the NFL on weekends while practicing medicine. He was a playing coach with the 1926 New York Giants, posting an 8-4-1 record. It was during that time he became a “roving center” on defense which would later be called the linebacker position.


Alexander graduated from medical school and began practicing medicine in New York City. He specialized in lung treatment and helped found one of the first tuberculosis centers in New York.


In 1954, SU started the Joseph Alexander Award, given each year to a Syracuse player for excellence in football, scholarship, and citizenship.



1913-1916: Central High School football team 

1917-1920: Syracuse University football team. Three years as an All-American as a center and guard. First SU grad in the Helms Foundation for football. 

1918-1920: SU lacrosse 

1921-1922: Pro football- Syracuse, Rochester, Milwaukee. 

1924-1927: New York Giants football player and coach while attending medical school. First player at the "roving center" position 

1942: Head football coach at City College of New York 

1962: Inducted into the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame. 

1969: SU Letterman of Distinction award; Served as a physician and surgeon in New York City for over 40 years;


* First inductee into the Syracuse Jewish Community Center’s Sports Hall of Fame

1985: Inducted into the International Jewish Hall of Fame

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