New Jersey has many standouts who have achieved greatness in their field of choice. We are also fortunate to have some of these accomplished individuals who give so much back to our community. Such is the case with former NFL linebacker and New Jersey sports hero Phil Villapiano.

Phil grew up here in Jersey and attended both Asbury Park High School and Ocean Township High School where he was a standout athlete. Phil went on to Bowling Green State University where he was a conference All-American player.

His skills led him to a 13-year career with the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills in the NFL, achieving Rookie of the Year status in 1971, named to the NFL All Pro and AFC All Pro teams several times and is a Super Bowl Champion winning it all with the Oakland Raiders in 1976. He is and has been a senior class candidate for the NFL Hall of Fame.

Phil has used his on-field success to help those in need. He was chairman of Phil Villapiano’s Field of Hope Gala, which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

I met Phil when I was asked to help him host his Gala and act as a co-master of ceremonies. We became fast and furious friends because of his down-to-earth and very funny personality and his true compassion for others.

He was one of the first to get actively involved in the organization Save the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy and I enjoyed serving on that committee and watch him get things done for those in need.

He continues to get involved in other charities too numerous to mention.

I remain his biggest fan and he remains one of New Jersey’s true champions both on the football field and off. I’m very proud to be his friend.

As you watch the Super Bowl think of Phil and his contributions to the game of football and those in the community who he has served so well.

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