Local football superstars


Adam Bisnowaty in a game against Georgia Tech in 2015. (YouTube/CFB Filmroom)

Harris Helberg

In the satirical parody film, Airplane!, a flight attendant offers a thin leaflet titled “Jewish Sports Legends” to a passenger on the plane after asking for a “light” read. For many years, this was the end of the conversation when it came to Jews and sports in popular culture. The 1980 film’s feeble attempt at humor highlights an inaccurate stereotype that Jews are incapable of competing in athletics. Movies, other traditional Jewish schools, and the lack of representation of Jewish athletes in pro-American sports reinforce this idea of the unathletic Jew and allow it to linger.

The NFL draft, which started on Thursday, April 27, and ended on Saturday, April 29, helped dismantle this nasty stereotype once again.  In fact, Adam Bisnowaty, a Jewish offensive tackle from the University of Pittsburgh, was drafted in the sixth round by the New York Giants.  Mazel Tov to Adam!

While Brandon Kublanow, a Jewish center for the University of Georgia, was not drafted, he was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Baltimore Ravens. Kublanow is a local celebrity- he was a four-star (out of five) athlete out of Walton High School. He’s hard to miss- all 6’3” 293 pounds of him.  His red hair and last name that announcers struggle with (“kuh-BLAH-no”) make him even more unique.  He and his mom attend Chabad of Cobb frequently—I see his mother on a regular basis at the synagogue.

Kublanow did his best to observe his faith during his grueling football season and academic ventures. “Everyone knows I’m the only Jewish kid on the team,” said Brandon, but Mark Richt, the former UGA coach, exemplifies the attitude of the whole team by saying “We don’t care about all that [religious affiliation]. We just like them to have that ‘G’ on their hat and play hard.” Kublanow was also named to the Jewish Sports Review All-American team during college.

People like Adam Bisnowaty and Brandon Kublanow are breaking the stereotype by continuing to excel in sports.  

They will eventually make the leaflet into a volume novel. Hopefully, there will be a realization by the general public that more and more Jews are playing professional American sports. This will allow younger Jewish kids to have the confidence to play and pursue sports more easily.  As a high school athlete myself, I look up to these athletes and admire their excellence and retention of faith.

UPDATED 11/22/17 for capitalization, style and clarity. Image also updated.