Joseph A. “Doc” Alexander was born on April 1, 1897, in Silver Creek, New York, the son of Russian immigrants. He attended Syracuse University where he was a three-time All-America choice, making it as a guard in 1918-19 and center in 1920. He was Syracuse captain two years and also captained the lacrosse team one season.
Alexander graduated from medical school and began practicing medicine in New York City. He specialized in lung treatment and helped found one of the first tuberculosis centers in New York.
Alexander played for the Syracuse Pros (1921), and played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for the Rochester Jeffersons (1921–24) and the New York Giants (1925–27). Alexander was the first player signed to the Giants after it was established by Tim Mara and helped lead the team to its first title in 1927. He practiced medicine during the week and played football on the weekends.
He was a two-time First Team All-Pro, in both 1921 and 1922.
In 1925 ,he was the head coach of the Jeffersons and, in 1926, he was the player-coach of the Giants. Over his two years of coaching his teams compiled a cumulative win/loss record of 7-7-2. After retiring, he returned to coach the CCNY team with Benny Friedman for one year in 1942.
In 1937, the New York World- Telegram named Alexander to its All-time All-America Team at guard. Football expert George Trevor selected him as the greatest collegiate guard of the decade 1919 to 1929.
He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954, and, in 1985, to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1954 Syracuse University introduced the Joseph Alexander Award, given each year to a Syracuse player for excellence in football, scholarship, and citizenship.
Alexander died September 12, 1975.
Sources: “Doc Alexander,” Wikipedia.
“Doc Alexander,” Pro-football-history.com.
“Joe ‘Doc’ Alexander,” National Football Foundation.
Nicole Siegel, “Remembering New York Giants Player Joseph “Doc” Alexander, A Jewish Football Legend,” WLNY CBS News York, (April 26, 2021).
“Joseph Alexander,” International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
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