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Photo: Richmond Times Dispatch, January 21, 1960

Carmen Cavalli

Carmen Anthony Cavalli, Jr.
Born June 11, 1937, Philadelphia
Died March 20, 2024, Philadelphia, age 86
University of Richmond
6’4”, 245 lbs

Carmen Cavalli grew up in Philadelphia where, at St. Thomas More High School, he was as much a basketball standout as he was at football. He went on to play at the University of Richmond as a tight end/defensive end. Except for a brief stint as a starter in his senior year of 1959, he played mostly on the Spiders’ second team.

The AFL’s Minneapolis/St. Paul franchise drafted Cavalli, but when the owners abandoned the league, Buffalo signed him. Once the Oakland franchise was established, the league awarded the rights to many of the Minneapolis/St. Paul draftees to them, Cavalli among them, despite having signed with the Bills. He impressed the coaching staff right away in training camp and was installed on the first team almost immediately. He started all 14 games for the Raiders that season.

The Raiders’ talent level, along with that of the league, increased in 1961 and when training camp opened it was harder for Cavalli to find a spot on the roster. The team moved him from defensive end to defensive tackle, then offensive tackle, then tight end, before cutting him on September 5. He sat out the year then tried to catch on with his hometown Eagles in 1962 but was cut in August and hooked up with the Wheeling Ironmen of the United Football League soon after. He was in camp with the Jets in ’63, but after washing out with them, he was done with major league football and played that season with the Ridley Township Athletic Association on both their football and basketball teams.

He played for Ridley Township again in ’64 while coaching the line at Cardinal O’Hara High in Springfield, Pennsylvania, and was named the school’s head coach at the end of the season. He resigned that post in May 1965 to coach the line and play defensive end for the Philadelphia Bulldogs of the Continental Football League. He played for the Bulldogs for two seasons, including the squad that won the league championship in 1966.

When the Philadelphia team dropped out of the Continental League in 1967, Cavalli was picked up by Akron, but that team dropped out of the league after five games and he found himself back in semi-pro ball with the Hudson Valley Vikings of the Mid-Atlantic League and then returned to Ridley Township.

In 1968 he signed on to be the line coach and business manager of the Pottstown Firebirds of the Atlantic Coast League and ended up playing for them in 1969 because of a player shortage just weeks after undergoing an appendectomy. The Firebirds won the league crown that year and Cavalli stayed with them into 1970 before chronic bronchitis finally made it impossible for him to play any longer.

By 1971 he was working as a beer distributor and by 1981 he was the owner and operator of a Philadelphia bar named “Carmen’s” and took an active role in the local Tavern Association. “Carmen’s” remained a going concern at least into the mid-80s.


November 22, 1959 - Selected by Minneapolis/St Paul in the 1960 AFL draft.

January 21, 1960 - Signed by Buffalo sometime between January 4 and this date.

January 30, 1960 - AFL awarded his league signing rights to Oakland, potentially nullifying his contract with Buffalo.

March 3, 1960 - AFL transferred his contract from Buffalo to Oakland.

September 5, 1961 - Released.

See Also

carmen_cavalli.txt · Last modified: 2024/06/25 22:06 by ehaight