(JTA) — As the calendar turns to September, many Jews eagerly await an annual fall tradition that signals a new beginning: Week 1 of the NFL season.
This year, the season begins on Sept. 7, just about 10 days before Rosh Hashanah. Read on for our guide to all the Jewish players (listed alphabetically) and storylines to watch — plus a few free agents who could get another chance.
Jake Curhan, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle
Curhan, 25, appeared in four games for the Seahawks in 2022, a step back from his 15 games and five starts during his rookie season the prior year. The 6-foot-1, 315-pound lineman who grew up attending Jewish summer camp is expected to take on a similar backup role this season. During his successful collegiate career with the California Golden Bears at the University of California, Berkeley, he took on the nickname “Bear Jew.”
A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers running back
After a record-setting career at Boston College, Dillon enters his fourth season with the Green Bay Packers. Dillon, the team’s second-string running back, appeared in all 17 games last season, wracking up 770 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, a career high. Dillon, 25, spoke at the BBYO Jewish teen movement’s convention last year, where he shared his experience as a Jew of color and joked about missing Hebrew school for football practice as a kid.
Michael Dunn, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman
The 2023 season is already off to a seesaw start for Dunn, who was re-signed by the Browns on Wednesday, just one day after they had reportedly released him. The 29-year-old appeared in Cleveland’s first eight games last year, including two starts, before a back injury derailed his season.
Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings kicker
Joseph is beginning his third straight season as the Vikings’ primary kicker. The South African-born Jewish day school grad has been involved with the Jewish communities of each city in which he has played during his four years in the NFL. The 29-year-old has become known for his clutch game-winning field goals, including two in a row that each made history last season.
The free agents who hope to return
- Anthony Firkser (tight end): Despite appearing in at least 11 games in each of his five NFL seasons, Firsker, 28, enters this season without a roster spot. Firkser — who had a bar mitzvah growing up in New Jersey and spoke to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about his love of latkes — was cut by the New England Patriots this week as the deadline loomed for teams to finalize their 53-man rosters. The Harvard alum has five career touchdowns and could get a shot as another team’s second- or third-string tight end.
- Josh Rosen (quarterback): Rosen — who had a bar mitzvah, was a standout at UCLA and was once seen as a lock to be the first Jewish star QB in several decades — has struggled to find his footing in the NFL. The 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Rosen has more interceptions (21) than touchdowns (12) in his 24 career games. Rosen, 26, last appeared in a game with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, and spent last season on the Browns’ and Vikings’ practice squads.
- Sam Sloman (kicker): After making 10 field goals in his rookie 2020 season, the Georgia native has bounced around practice squads without seeing game action. Sloman, 25, played for the Vegas Vipers in the XFL in their 2023 season. Sloman took on the nickname “Kosher Cannon” when he played at Miami University in Ohio.
Other Jewish storylines
Off the field, the biggest Jewish storyline of the 2023-2024 NFL season is new Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris, who purchased the team from embattled Jewish owner Dan Snyder earlier this year for a record $6.05 billion. Snyder is under multiple investigations over sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture allegations. In July, Harris said buying his hometown NFL team was “bashert,” using the Yiddish word for fate.
In the broadcast booth, a number of Jewish play-by-play announcers and analysts will entertain fans on various networks. Here are a few of the more well-known figures in the booth and in the studio: Kenny Albert (Fox Sports), Chris Berman (ESPN), Ian Eagle (CBS), Andrea Kremer (Amazon Prime), Steve Levy (ESPN), Al Michaels (Amazon Prime) and Tracy Wolfson (CBS). Plus, former Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman recently joined Fox Sports’ “Fox NFL Kickoff” program, the network’s signature pre-game show. PJC