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Jewish Celebrity Profile: Jay Fiedler

by Brian Berk

Some guys have all the luck. They can run a 40-yard dash in 4 seconds or bash a ball 500 feet with no effort.

But for others, like Jay Fiedler, it takes heart and determination to get them "over the top." Fiedler has faced a tough road. After starring for Long Island's Oceanside High School and Dartmouth, NFL general managers passed on drafting the intelligent quarterback.

Fiedler dealt with being out of football for a couple of years. He was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings. Last year, Fiedler backed up Mark Brunell in Jacksonville. He recently signed with the Miami Dolphins. Fiedler will finally compete for a starting job. "All along, I kept saying to myself if I just got a chance to prove to everyone I can play, then I can stick around," Fiedler said. "...The perseverance I showed; just staying with it has helped me out tremendously."

Perseverance inspired the New York Jewish Hall of Fame to give Fiedler the "Dick Steinberg Good Guy Award" on Apr. 2 in Commack, N.Y. The award is named after the late New York Jets executive. Fiedler received his award at the end of a three-hour ceremony. "They decided to end the three-hour program with a quarterback running the two-minute drill," said Feidler.

Other honorees included U.S. gymnast Kerri Strug, former football star Sid Luckman, and Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Glickman. "It was a tremendous honor being here with so many of the great Jewish athletes," Fielder said. "I was a big football fan growing up. "(As a Jewish athlete) obviously Sid Luckman comes to mind. My dad recalls all the stories about Sandy Koufax," said Fielder. "He was a big Brooklyn Dodgers fan growing up."

Fielder said he is reformed. "I did get Barmitzvahed and have a strong tie to Jewish heritage," Fiedler said. His family was always there to give advice. "Mom and dad and my older brother told me to strive for excellence and never give up," Fiedler said.

In 2000, Fiedler faces the task of replacing retired future Hall of Famer and Miami fan favorite, Dan Marino. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of St. Louis Rams' quarterback, Kurt Warner. Warner, also not drafted, won Super Bowl XXXIV honors in January. "I think we have a great squad," said Fiedler. "As far as the offense, (new running back) Thurman Thomas will bring a lot of experience being in the Super Bowl four times," Fiedler said. "As for Dan Marino, you're not going to replace a guy like that."

Fiedler said he might not follow Marino's policy of taking care of his offensive lineman by buying them Isotoner gloves. "I don't know if I would go with the Isotoners. But I definitely will taking care of the guys," Fiedler said.

Fielder conveyed these words to children: "Follow your goals and dreams. Don't give up on anything no matter what other people are saying."

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