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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rocket Ismail
Position(s)
Wide receiver
Jersey #(s)
25, 86, 81
Born November 18, 1969 (1969-11-18) (age 40)
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Career information
Year(s) 19912002
NFL Draft 1991 / Round: 4 / Pick: 100
College Notre Dame
Professional teams
Career stats
Receptions 363
Receiving yards 5,295
Receiving Touchdowns 28
Stats at NFL.com
Stats at pro-football-reference.com
Career highlights and awards

Raghib Ramadian "Rocket" Ismail (born November 18, 1969 in Elizabeth, New Jersey) is a retired professional American and Canadian football player, who played Wide receiver in both the Canadian Football League and National Football League. He played college football at Notre Dame.

Ismail was nicknamed "The Rocket" because of his speed, having been timed at running the 40-yard-dash in 4.12 seconds while at Notre Dame. He recorded two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the NFL and was a CFL All-Star in 1991, as well as the Most Valuable Player of the 79th Grey Cup.

In 2004, CollegeFootballNews.com named Ismail as the #75 player on their list of the Top 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time.[1]

Contents

Career

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College

Ismail grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and attended Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School.[2][3][4] He first came to prominence as a receiver for the University of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame won the College Football National Championship in 1988, placed second in 1989 winning the 1990 Orange Bowl against Colorado, and again went to the 1991 Orange Bowl, this time losing Colorado 10-9. In that game, he returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown that would have won the game for Notre Dame and stopped Colorado from winning a share of the National Championship, however the play was later called back on a controversial clipping penalty sealing the Irish defeat. After the 1991 season, Ismail finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy as the top college football player, losing out to Brigham Young University Quarterback Ty Detmer.

During the 1989 regular season game against Michigan, Ismail returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, a feat never before having been accomplished by a Michigan opponent. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice, and received numerous awards, including All-American status.

The projected first overall selection in the 1991 NFL Draft, Ismail decided at the last minute to announce he would sign a record contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League starting during their 1991 season. As a result, he was chosen by the Los Angeles Raiders with the 100th overall pick in the draft.

Canadian Football League

Although Ismail's rights were the property of the Raiders in the National Football League, the CFL had no rules requiring teams to respect the NFL Draft. It would have been difficult to offer him enough money to join the CFL, but Bruce McNall, who, with then hockey player, Wayne Gretzky and actor John Candy, had recently purchased the Toronto Argonauts tried. The Argonauts made Ismail a then unheard of offer for a CFL player: $18.2 million over four years. The average value of his full contract, $4.55 million per season, was more than the anticipated 2006 CFL salary cap of $3.8 million per team. The CFL had a salary cap in place since 1991, but the rules contained an exemption for a "marquee player" who would not count against the cap. Doug Flutie of the BC Lions was about to be paid a million dollars under the exemption, but Ismail's contract was more than anything North American football had ever seen, as his yearly salary was, at that time, the largest in Canadian or American football history.

Ismail joined the Argonauts in time for the 1991 season, and in his first game, he returned a kick 73 yards on a reverse with Michael Clemons. Ismail ended his rookie season at the 79th Grey Cup. He recorded an 87-yard touchdown on a kickoff return and was named the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player as his Argonauts defeated the Calgary Stampeders 36-21. He came within fifty yards of breaking his teammate Clemons' franchise record for single-season kickoff return yardage, and made the 1991 All-Star team as a Wide receiver, while finishing runner-up to Jon Volpe for rookie of the year.

In 1992 Ismail broke Clemons' franchise record for single-season kick return yards, Ismail was unhappy in Canada as the Argonauts slumped to a 6-12 record, missing the playoffs. He was also remembered for his participation in a sideline brawl against the Stampeders where he stomped on an opposing player's helmeted face. He later issued an apology for this on an appearance of Speaker's Corner. With the huge contract around Toronto's neck and McNall facing increasing financial trouble, Ismail left the CFL, and, after the season, signed with the Los Angeles Raiders.

National Football League

In 1993 as a rookie in the National Football League Ismail recorded 353 yards. The next year, he recorded 513 yards and five touchdowns. In 1995 he recorded 491 yards.

After 1995, Ismail was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round pick. In 1996 the Panthers, under Head coach Dom Capers finished 12-4, but Ismail recorded a career-low 214 yards without a single touchdown. In 1997 he recorded 419 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

In 1998, Ismail recorded 69 receptions for 1,024 yards, two yards short of doubling his previous career high, and eight touchdowns.

Then in 1999, Ismail signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent and wore #81. He recorded a career-high 1,097 yards and six touchdowns. In 2000, injuries caused by a collision with teammate Dat Nguyen during training camp limited Ismail to eight games, and he recorded 350 yards. The 2001 season marked Ismail's last season. Ismail was released by the Cowboys in 2002, ending his NFL career.

Life after retirement

Ismail has frequently appeared on ESPN "College Game Day." Ismail was also a contestant on Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge on CMT. In February 2008, Ismail appeared as a Pro in the third season of Spike TV's Pros Vs Joes.

He has most recently been coaching in the extreme sports league Slamball.

Personal

Ismail is the older brother of former Syracuse University and NFL wide receiver Qadry Ismail, nicknamed "The Missile" and former University of Texas-El Paso and New York Dragons receiver Sulaiman Ismail, nicknamed "The Bomb". His father, Ibrahim, died when he was 10; his mother, Fatma, is known as "The Launch Pad" because of her sons' nicknames of Rocket and Missile. [5]

Ismail acknowledges losing millions of dollars in faulty investments, including on restaurants, inspirational movies, a record label, a cosmetics procedure whereby oxygen was absorbed into the skin, a plan to create nationwide phone-card dispensers, and calligraphy shops.[6]

References

  1. ^ "#75 - Raghib Ismail". Top 100 Players of All-Time. College Football News. Archived from the original on 2006-01-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20060108164230/http://www.collegefootballnews.com/Top_100_Players/Top+100+Players+-+75+Raghib+Ismail.htm.  
  2. ^ Wiley, Ralph (September 25, 1989). "The Light And The Lightning". Sports Illustrated (Time Inc.): p. 4. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068837/4/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  3. ^ Anderson, Dave (Thursday, November 1, 1990). "The Rocket: Caring, Shy, Compelling". New York Times: New York Edition: p. B13. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/01/sports/sports-of-the-times-the-rocket-caring-shy-compelling.html. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  4. ^ Jenkins, Sally (October 19, 1992). "Call Him Qadry". Sports Illustrated (Time Inc.): p. 1. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1004352/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-11.  
  5. ^ Rocket shows strong path
  6. ^ How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke SI.com, March 23, 2009

External links

Preceded by
Greg Battle
Tom Burgess
Grey Cup MVP
1991
Succeeded by
Doug Flutie

Template:NFLretired Raghib Ramadian "Rocket" Ismail (born November 18, 1969 in Elizabeth, New Jersey) is a retired professional American and Canadian football player, who played Wide receiver in both the Canadian Football League and National Football League. He played college football at the Notre Dame.

Ismail was nicknamed "The Rocket" because of his speed. He recorded two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the NFL and was a CFL All-Star in 1991, as well as the Most Valuable Player of the 79th Grey Cup.

In 2004, CollegeFootballNews.com named Ismail as the #75 player on their list of the Top 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time.[1]

Contents

Career

College

Ismail grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and attended Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School.[2][3][4] He first came to prominence as a receiver for the University of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame won the College Football National Championship in 1988, placed second in 1989 winning the Orange Bowl against Colorado, and again went to the Orange Bowl in 1990 but lost, 10-9 to Colorado. That year, Ismail finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy as the top college football player, losing out to Brigham Young University Quarterback Ty Detmer.

During the 1989 regular season game against the Michigan, Ismail returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice, and received numerous awards, including All-American status. In the 1991 Orange Bowl, he returned a punt return 91 yards for a touchdown that would have won the game for Notre Dame and stopped Colorado from winning a share of the National Championship, however the play was later called back on a Clipping penalty and Notre Dame eventually lost 10-9.

The projected first overall selection in the 1991 NFL Draft, Ismail decided at the last minute to announce he would sign a record contract with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League starting during their 1991 season. As a result, he was chosen by the Los Angeles Raiders with the 100th overall in the draft.

Canadian Football League

Although Ismail's rights were the property of the Raiders in the National Football League, the CFL had no rules requiring teams to respect the NFL Draft. It would have been difficult to offer him enough money to join the CFL, but Bruce McNall, who, with then hockey player, Wayne Gretzky and actor John Candy, had recently purchased the Toronto Argonauts tried. The Argonauts made Ismail a then unheard of offer for a CFL player: $18.2 million over four years. The average value of his full contract, $4.55 million per season, was more than the anticipated 2006 CFL salary cap of $3.8 million per team. The CFL had a salary cap in place since 1991, but the rules contained an exemption for a "marquee player" who would not count against the cap. Doug Flutie of the British Columbia Lions was about to be paid a million dollars under the exemption, but Ismail's contract was more than anything North American football had ever seen, as his yearly salary was, at that time, the largest in Canadian or American football history.

Ismail joined the Argonauts in time for the 1991 season, and in his first game, he returned a kick 73 yards on a reverse with Michael Clemons. Ismail ended his rookie season at the 79th Grey Cup. He recorded an 87-yard touchdown on a kickoff return and was named the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player as his Argonauts defeated the Calgary Stampeders 36-21. He came within fifty yards of breaking his teammate Clemons' franchise record for single-season kickoff return yardage, and made the 1991 All-Star team as a Wide receiver, while finishing runner-up to Jon Volpe for rookie of the year.

In 1992 Ismail broke Clemons' franchise record for single-season kick return yards, Ismail was unhappy in Canada as the Argonauts slumped to a 6-12 record, missing the playoffs. He was also remembered for his participation in a sideline brawl against the Stampeders where he stomped on an opposing player's helmeted face. He later issued an apology for this on an appearance of Speaker's Corner. With the huge contract around Toronto's neck and McNall facing increasing financial trouble, Ismail left the CFL, and, after the season, signed with the Los Angeles Raiders.

National Football League

In 1993 as a rookie in the National Football League Ismail recorded 353 yards. The next year, he recorded 513 yards and five touchdowns. In 1995 he recorded 491 yards.

After 1995, Ismail was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round pick. In 1996 the Panthers, under Head coach Dom Capers finished 12-4, but Ismail recorded a career-low 214 yards without a single touchdown. In 1997 he recorded 419 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

In 1998, Ismail recorded 69 receptions for 1,024 yards, two yards short of doubling his previous career high, and eight touchdowns.

Then in 1999, Ismail signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent and wore #81. He recorded a career-high 1,097 yards and six touchdowns. In 2000, injuries caused by a collision with teammate Dat Nguyen during training camp limited Ismail to eight games, and he recorded 350 yards. The 2001 season marked Ismail's last season. His NFL career ended in 2002 when Ismail was released by the Cowboys, ending his career.

Life after retirement

Ismail was a contestant on Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge on CMT. In February 2008, Ismail appeared as a Pro in the third season of Spike TV's Pros Vs Joes.

He has most recently been coaching in the extreme sports league Slamball.

Personal

Ismail is the older brother of former Syracuse University and NFL wide receiver Qadry Ismail, nicknamed the "Missile" and former University of Texas-El Paso and New York Dragons receiver Sulaiman Ismail. His father, Ibrahim, died when he was 10; his mother, Fatma, is known as "The Launch Pad" because of her sons' nicknames of Rocket and Missile. He converted from Sunni Islam to Christianity.[5]

Ismail acknowledges losing millions of dollars in faulty investments, including on restaurants, inspirational movies, a record label, a cosmetics procedure whereby oxygen was absorbed into the skin, a plan to create nationwide phone-card dispensers, and calligraphy shops.[6]

References

  1. "#75 - Raghib Ismail". Top 100 Players of All-Time. College Football News. Archived from the original on 2006-01-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20060108164230/http://www.collegefootballnews.com/Top_100_Players/Top+100+Players+-+75+Raghib+Ismail.htm. 
  2. Wiley, Ralph (September 25, 1989). "The Light And The Lightning". Sports Illustrated (Time Inc.): p. 4. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1068837/4/index.htm. Retrieved on 2009-06-11. 
  3. Anderson, Dave (Thursday, November 1, 1990). "The Rocket: Caring, Shy, Compelling". New York Times: New York Edition: p. B13. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/11/01/sports/sports-of-the-times-the-rocket-caring-shy-compelling.html. Retrieved on 2009-06-11. 
  4. Jenkins, Sally (October 19, 1992). "Call Him Qadry". Sports Illustrated (Time Inc.): p. 1. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1004352/index.htm. Retrieved on 2009-06-11. 
  5. Rocket shows strong path
  6. How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke SI.com, March 23, 2009

External links

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Greg Battle
Tom Burgess
|width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Grey Cup MVP
1991 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Doug Flutie |- Template:End box


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