Veteran kicker Al Del Greco was the epitome of good fortune in the National Football League.
After the Miami Dolphins released him prior to the 1984 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers signed him a month after.
Some three years later, the Packers released him. He eventually suited up for the then-St. Louis Cardinals (now known as the Arizona Cardinals) for three-and-a-half years.
The Cardinals then released Del Greco following the 1990 NFL campaign. At that point, he thought his NFL career was over.
Del Greco was wrong.
The then-Houston Oilers called him up days after he signed a contract with a non-football employer. Del Greco tried out with them and eventually became one of the best kickers in Tennessee Titans franchise history.
The unflappable Al Del Greco proved you can win in life if you put in the work and let the chips fall where they may.
Albert Louis Del Greco was born in Providence, RI on March 2, 1962. He has a sister Robyn.
Del Greco and his familiy moved to Key Biscayne, FL when he was four years old, per the Shelby County Reporter’s Graham Brooks.
Del Greco’s parents never wavered in their commitment to their children.
“Until I went to college, my dad only missed one game I ever played in, in any sport,” Del Greco told BirminghamChristian.com’s Laurie Stroud years later. “He was sick that game and I scored three goals.”
He also recalled his parents centering their annual family vacations around soccer for his and his sister’s sake.
Del Greco was an avid golfer when he was growing up. His dad shelled out $100 for a summer membership at a nearby golf course when he was thirteen years old.
Del Greco made the most of the opportunity – he played on the golf course for four or five days every week in the summer of 1975.
He attended Coral Gables Senior High School from 1977 to 1980. He played football and soccer for the Coral Gables Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers won the state title in soccer when Del Greco was fourteen years old.
Del Greco, who eventually became a placekicker in the National Football League, learned the nuances of kicking from former Auburn Tigers kicker and Miami native Jorge Portela, per Brooks.
The Auburn connection eventually paid huge dividends for Al Del Greco’s gridiron career.
“I was the first kicker to ever get a scholarship to Auburn out of high school,” Del Greco told the Shelby County Reporter in 2017. “The chance to play college football was huge and Auburn was really the only school that gave me that opportunity.”
Del Greco traveled west to Alabama to embark on his college football career with the Auburn Tigers.
College Days With The Auburn Tigers
Al Del Greco attended Auburn University from 1980 to 1983.
Prior to Del Greco’s first down in the collegiate ranks, the Coral Gables Senior High School Hall of Fame inducted him in 1980.
He won the starting kicker job under Auburn Tigers head football coach Doug Barfield as a true freshman in 1980.
Del Greco converted on all 27 of his PAT attempts but nailed just eight of his 15 field goal tries for the Tigers that year.
Auburn won just five games and extended its bowl drought to six years.
The school fired Barfield following the 1980 NCAA campaign. They hired former Wyoming Cowboys head football coach Pat Dye to replace him.
Dye’s hiring ushered in a new era for Auburn Tigers football. They went on to win four SEC titles during his 12-year tenure as Auburn head football coach.
Del Greco remembered one reporter asking Dye during his first press conference how long it will take before they beat their SEC and in-state nemesis, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Dye nonchalantly told the media “60 minutes,” per the Shelby County Reporter.
Celebrated a big Auburn win with Derrick DelGreco! pic.twitter.com/plCOVuMviY
— Al DelGreco (@delgreco3) November 26, 2017
Dye told his players he would work them to the bone. True enough, Del Greco remembered his first winter and spring practices under his watchful eye were brutal.
Dye also weeded out players who didn’t live up to high expectations. The results were astonishing: after another disappointing 5-6 finish in 1981, the Tigers won nine games in 1982 – their best record in four seasons.
Eighteenth-ranked Auburn beat the Boston College Eagles in the 1982 Tangerine Bowl (now known as the Citrus Bowl), 33-26.
It was Auburn’s first bowl victory in eight seasons.
For his part, Del Greco continued excelling in PATs – he 47 of 48 attempts as a sophomore and junior in 1981 and 1982.
Unfortunately, he made just 22 of 38 field goal attempts during that time frame.
Al Del Greco enjoyed his finest college football season as a senior in 1983. His six made field goals and seven field goal attempts against the Kentucky Wildcats that year were new SEC records.
Del Greco also made all 36 of his PAT attempts and 12 of his 16 field goal tries. His 75 percent field goal conversion rate was the best of his four-year tenure at Auburn.
The Tigers continued their exemplary play under Dye – they had a gaudy 11-1 win-loss record in 1983 and earned a No. 3 ranking from The Associated Press.
Despite Del Greco’s breakout season, the Tigers coaching staff informed him they couldn’t offer scholarships to kickers on Christmas Day of his senior year, per Stroud.
Several weeks later, field goals decided the outcome of three or four bowl games. The coaching staff approached Del Greco and told him they would give him the scholarship after all.
Auburn edged the eighth-ranked Michigan Wolverines in the 1983 Sugar Bowl in a low-scoring affair, 9-7.
Winning a second consecutive bowl game was a great way to end Al Del Greco’s college football career.
Del Greco finished his career on the college gridiron with 110 PATs and 42 field goals. He converted on an incredible 99. percent (110 of 111) of his extra-point attempts from 1980 to 1983.
Al Del Greco eventually embarked on a successful and colorful seventeen-year career in the National Football League.
Pro Football Career
Al Del Greco’s hometown Miami Dolphins signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1984.
He cherished the opportunity of playing for the team he grew up following as a youngster in South Florida.
Del Greco made it through training camp and even played four preseason games for the Dolphins. Alas, they released him before the regular season kicked off.
Nevertheless, the unflappable Del Greco still felt better things were in store for him.
“I still felt, ‘Hey, if I get the opportunity I might be good enough to play,” Del Greco told the Shelby County Reporter.
True enough, the Green Bay Packers signed him a month after the Dolphins waived him. They signed Del Greco after Eddie Garcia did not pan out as the legendary Jan Stenerud’s replacement at kicker.
Del Greco eventually spent the first three-and-a-half years of his 17-year pro football career in frigid Green Bay, WI.
Del Greco appeared in a total of 46 games for the Packers from 1984 to 1987. He made 50 of 75 field goal attempts and 111 of 114 PAT attempts during that time frame.
A key turning point in Del Greco’s NFL career took place during the 1987 NFL season.
Del Greco started at kicker for Packers head coach Forrest Gregg. The latter tapped replacement kicker Max Zendejas to take over Del Greco’s special teams duties when the league went on strike two weeks later.
Del Greco suited up in just three more games for the Packers after the strike ended. Gregg eventually replaced him with Zendejas before the 1982 NFL season ended.
Green Bay was a below-average squad during Del Greco’s tenure from 1984 to 1987. The Packers averaged just six wins per year and never made the postseason during that stretch.
— Viceroy of Sconnie Sports (@sconiesportsguy) March 2, 2022
The Packers released Del Greco on the eve of Thanksgiving in 1987. To make matters worse, he and his wife Lisa were expecting their first child in two weeks.
“I have always had faith that everything happens for a reason,” Del Greco told BirminhamChristian.com. “Even the rough times when I got cut a couple of times, something was always there. I had another chance and I was able to make good of it and continue my career.”
The St. Louis Cardinals rang Del Greco up and eventually signed him two weeks later. He eventually spent the next three-and-a-half years with the Cardinals organization.
The Cardinals signed Del Greco during their last year in St. Louis. They relocated to Phoenix, AZ beginning in the 1988 NFL campaign.
During Del Greco’s time with the Cardinals, he made 51 of 79 field goals and 109 of 113 PAT attempts.
The Cardinals were a mediocre team during Del Greco’s tenure with the squad – they averaged just six wins per year and extended their postseason drought to eight years.
The Cardinals released Del Greco following the 1990 NFL season. At the time, he thought his pro football career was over.
Del Greco already accepted a job in Birmingham, AL after the season ended. However, fate intervened in the form of the Houston Oilers.
The Oilers reached out to him on the Sunday before he was scheduled to report for his new job. Del Greco tried out and eventually played another decade in the National Football League.
The Oilers signed Del Greco to a two-year deal worth $300,000. He replaced Ian Howfield, whom Houston released one day after muffing a potential game-winning kick against the Washington Redskins.
“Basically, my life has had a 180-degree turnaround in the last day-and-a-half for the better,” Del Greco told UPI on November 6, 1991.
The Oilers’ acquisition of Del Greco coincided with the increasing popularity of the Celebrity Golf Association in the early 1990s.
He took part in approximately four to six celebrity golf events annually. The organizers paid him for his appearance. He also competed for prize money.
Al Del Greco’s passion for golf intensified even more – it was a passion that carried over well after he hung up his cleats in the National Football League.
Golf also helped lure Del Greco and his family to the Cotton State in 1993 – his tenth year in the National Football League.
He told Brooks in 2017 that he used to visit former Alabama Crimson Tide player and Green Bay Packers teammate Paul Carruth in Alabama.
Carruth told Del Greco about the Greystone golf course. It piqued Del Greco’s interest – he went to the golf course and signed up for a membership even though he lived out of state at the time.
Del Greco discovered developers put up houses in the surrounding area when he played golf at Greystone in subsequent months. The houses matched the vision he had for his family’s future home.
Before long, Del Greco purchased a lot and house in the Shelby County area. He and his family lived there from 1993 to 2011, per Brooks.
— Al DelGreco (@delgreco3) March 30, 2018
As Al Del Greco’s pro football career wound down, he began transitioning into a golf career.
Del Greco, whose first love as a youngster in South Florida was golf, began an eight-year streak of finishing in the Top 10 of the American Century Championship in 1998 – his fifteenth year in the National Football League.
Arguably the pinnacle of Al Del Greco’s pro football career was playing in Super Bowl XXXIV against Kurt Warner’s St. Louis Rams.
Del Greco’s 43-yard field goal tied the game at 16 apiece in the fourth quarter.
However, St. Louis receiver Isaac Bruce scored on a 73-yard touchdown reception before the two-minute warning to give the Rams the lead for good.
Rams linebacker Mike Jones then tackled Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson as he reached over the goal line for a potential game-winning touchdown.
Dyson’s attempt fell inches short of the goal line – the Rams held on to win by seven points.
— Jake Robertson (@GloryDaySports) February 16, 2021
Del Greco nailed 246 of 295 field goals during his decade-long stint with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans for an 83.4 percent accuracy rate.
He’s the Titans’ career franchise leader in field goals made (246), PATs made (322), and points scored (1,060).
After Al Del Greco left the Tennessee Titans following the 2000 NFL season, he tried out for the Buffalo Bills.
Alas, Del Greco never made the cut. However, he considered the turn of events a blessing in disguise.
It turned out Del Greco promised his daughter Erica he would have retired from the NFL when she reached high school.
Either that or Del Greco would leave his entire family in Birmingham, AL and spend the football season in frigid Buffalo, NY by himself.
“It’s almost a blessing I did not make it,” Del Greco told BirminghamChristian.com a year later.
Del Greco retired from the National Football League following that failed tryout with the Buffalo Bills.
Al Del Greco finished his 17-year NFL career with 347 field goals and 543 PATs. He set the record for most consecutive seasons (10) of making at least one 50-yard field goal.
Al Del Greco and his wife have two sons Trey and Derrick and a daughter Erica. He also has two grandchildren. They currently reside in the Birmingham, AL area.
During his playing years in the National Football League, he settled on Birmingham as his family’s off-season residence.
When Del Greco played pro football, his kids never went to the same school the entire year. Despite the travel the job required, he had always been proud of himself for being present for his children.
“I thought it was far more important for us to be together as a family than it was for me to go to Houston or Nashville and leave them in Birmingham without a dad around,” Del Greco told Stroud in 2001.
Del Greco also ventured into coaching during his retirement years. He served as the head boys’ football coach at Spain Park High School in Birmingham, AL for more than eight years.
The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inducted Del Greco in 2003.
Del Greco’s golf career was in full swing after he retired from the National Football League.
He participated in Web.com tour events in 2001 and 2003. He has also won the Champions Tour Cadillac NFL Classic NFL Division five times.
Under Del Greco’s leadership, the Spain Park Jaguars won three straight 6A Alabama state championships. He coached his son Trey, who eventually played for the Vanderbilt Commodores golf team on a scholarship.
— Al DelGreco (@delgreco3) September 2, 2021
The Samford Bulldogs hired Al Del Greco to become their head golf coach on May 2, 2014. He helped the Bulldogs win the 2016 Folino Classic title. Stamford has also earned five Top 10 finishes since he became golf head coach.
Del Greco has parlayed at least half a million dollars of his career golf earnings for charitable causes including Heardmont Park, Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School, Magic Moments, and the Make a Wish Foundation, per BirminghamChristian.com.
None of that ever came easy, though. Del Greco thought the transition from the gridiron to the golf green was going to be breeze. It wasn’t – golf was also a hard sport that took years for him to master.
Nonetheless, Del Greco gave credit to golf for helping him overcome his temper issues.
Del Greco previously served as co-host of “The Opening Drive,” a morning show aired on Birmingham’s WJOX 94.5 FM.
He also previously organized the Al Del Greco Kicking & Punting Football Camp in Huntsville, TX.