#41 In Your Program, But #1 In The Hearts Of Many
When we launched this quest to find the Jersey Shore’s Greatest Sports Personality of the last 50 years I gave Phil Villapiano little chance to advance past a round or two. I thought Loyola of Chicago had a better chance to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament then Villapiano did of getting past some of the most iconic sports figures in the history of the Monmouth/Ocean County area. Loyola of Chicago made it to the final four before their magic run came to an end….Villapiano went the distance and has the ceremonial title of the Shore Sports Network’s greatest sports figure in the period between 1968-2018. The former football great rolled to a convincing win over baseball’s Todd Frazier in the finals of the online voting contest that started with 64 nominees in early March. On his way to earning the unique distinction Villapiano defeated Joe Montano, Scott Goodale, Jim Nantz, Warren Wolf, Christie Pearce Rampone and the popular Frazier who plays third base for the New York Mets.
“I am shocked with this honor, but loving it and thank you Jersey Shore” said the former NFL linebacker. “Wherever I go I tell people I live at the Jersey Shore and will never leave.” Villiapiano added he loves the title that comes with this honor and will do his best to live up to it. “Thanks to all those who voted for me from my family and friends of my shore roots in Asbury Park, Ocean Township, Rumson and Seashore Day Camp. To those who supported me through my playing days at Bowling Green State University, the Raiders, the Bills and beyond, I love you all right back.” Quoting the late owner of the Raiders the 69-year old Villapiano closed with “just win baby” and that he did.
It is his 9-year tenure with the Raiders that he is best known for as he was the league’s Rookie of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowl selection while helping Oakland win the Super Bowl in the 1976-77 season. Just last month he was named to the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame and Phil is currently being considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Senior Committee. Villapiano is well known for his engaging personality and sense of humor but he’s also someone who has a strong sense of community. He has helped raise millions of dollars in the battle against ALS and Muscular Dystrophy and was a leader in helping people and businesses that suffered losses during Superstorm Sandy.
Sponsored by Sonny’s Recycling of Waretown, Villapiano will receive a specially designed trophy from Ocean Trophies of Lanoka Harbor upon his return from a business trip later this month. We will also post a video interview when that presentation is made.