Has anyone from the Berkshires played pro football?
Wake Forest University Athletic Department
The most famous Berkshire-born pro footballer was Brian Piccolo (pictured above), born in Pittsfield in 1943 and a star at Wake Forest before playing four seasons with the Chicago Bears. A small but tough running back, Piccolo became famous more from his courageous battle with cancer than from his exploits on the playing field. Brian’s Song, an award-winning movie staring James Caan, tells the story of his life and untimely passing.
Erik Howard, born in Pittsfield in 1964, enjoyed the best career of any Berkshire-born player. Following his college career at Washington State, Howard appeared in 139 NFL games with the New York Giants and Jets between 1986 and 1996. He was selected for the Pro Bowl as a defensive lineman in 1990.
Other Berkshire players had brief careers. Linemen Bill Kennedy of Lee (Detroit Lions, Boston Yanks) and Tom Kennedy of Pittsfield (Lions) both played in the 1940s. Grenny Lansdell of Great Barrington (New York Giants), a guard, and Bob Garner of North Adams (Giants), a lineman, also played in the 1940s. In the 1920s, Charlie Stewart of Pittsfield (Rochester Jeffersons, Akron Pros), a guard, Larry Weltman of Pittsfield (Jeffersons), a back, and Bill Joyce of Pittsfield (Detroit Heralds), a quarterback, played in NFL games.
Joyce and Weltman learned their football at Pittsfield High School, but all of the others played high school and college football outside the Berkshires.
Information on the careers of most players can be found at the excellent website pro-football-reference.com.