Raghib Ismail

Raghib Ramadian "Rocket" Ismail (born November 18, 1969) is a retired player of American and Canadian football. A wide receiver and kick returner, he came to prominence playing college football for the University of Notre Dame before moving on to both the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 1991–92 and the National Football League (NFL) from 1993-2001.

Ismail 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, College Football News named Ismail the No. 75 player on its list of the Top 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time.[1] He was also selected by Sports Illustrated to the 85-man roster of its all-20th Century college football team.[2]

Raghib Ismail
refer to caption
Ismail aboard USS Norfolk (SSN-714) in 2007
No. 25, 86, 81
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born:November 18, 1969 (age 49)
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High school:Wilkes-Barre (PA) Meyers
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:1991 / Round: 4 / Pick: 100
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:5,295
Player stats at NFL.com

Early life and family

Ismail was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey[3] and was raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He attended Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School.[4][5][6]

Football career


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, losing to 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 called back on a clipping penalty sealing the Irish defeat. After the 1990 season, Ismail finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy as the top college football player, losing to Brigham Young University quarterback Ty Detmer.

During the 1989 regular season game against 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.

The projected first overall selection in the 1991 NFL Draft, Ismail decided at the last minute to 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.

Track and field

Ismail was also a track star at the University of Notre Dame, where he ran the 100 meters in 10.2 seconds. He also competed in the 55 meters, with a personal best of 6.07 seconds. At the 1991 NCAA Indoor Track Championships, he finished 2nd in the 55-meter sprint.

Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
55 meters 6.07 West Lafayette, Indiana February 8, 1991
100 meters 10.20 Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania May 20, 1988

Canadian Football League

It would have been difficult to offer Ismail enough money to join the CFL, but Bruce McNall tried after purchasing Toronto Argonauts with hockey player Wayne Gretzky and actor John Candy. The Argonauts made Ismail a groundbreaking 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 $1 million under the exemption, but Ismail's contract was more than anything North American football had ever seen, as his yearly salary was then the largest in Canadian or American football history.

Ismail joined the Argonauts in time for the 1991 season, and in his first game, 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, 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 an opposing player's helmeted face. He later apologized on 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.

Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders

Ismail was going to be selected as the first overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, until he decided to sign with the Toronto Argonauts.[7] The Los Angeles Raiders selected him in the fourth round (100th overall), to own his rights in case he decided to return to the NFL.

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

On August 25, 1996, after having three disappointing seasons, he was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round pick (#157-Nick Lopez).[8]

Carolina Panthers

In 1996 the Panthers, under Head coach Dom Capers, finished 12–4, but Ismail recorded a career-low 214 yards receiving, without a single touchdown. In 1997 he recorded 419 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

In 1998, he had a breakout year, registering 69 receptions for 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns, two yards short of doubling his previous career high.

Dallas Cowboys

On March 23, 1999, the Dallas Cowboys signed him as a free agent after outbidding other teams.[9] After Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending injury in the fourth game of the season, Ismail became the team's leading wide receiver, recording a career-high 1,097 yards and six touchdowns.

In 2000, he missed the last six games after tearing the ACL in his right knee against the Philadelphia Eagles, during the tenth game of the season, finishing with only 350 receiving yards.[10] In 2001, he missed two games after spraining the MCL in the same injured knee against the San Francisco 49ers.

On August 31, 2002, he was placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a herniated disk in his neck, due to a collision with teammate Dat Nguyen during training camp.[11] He was released on February 26, 2003, in a salary cap move. He later announced his retirement in March.

Post-football career

Media appearances

Ismail was a color analyst on ESPN's College GameDay in 2003 and 2004.

Ismail cohosted Cowboys Game Night on FSN Southwest with co-host Nate Newton and Ric Renner.

In February 2008, Ismail appeared as a Pro in the third season of Spike TV's Pros vs. Joes.

He was a contestant on Ty Murray’s Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge on CMT. On March 2010, it was announced that Ismail would be a correspondent on the show, interviewing contestants about their lives outside the competition.[12]

Slamball coaching

In 2008, he coached the Bouncers in the extreme sports league Slamball.

Personal life

Ismail is married to Melani Ismail and they have four children.

He 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, was sometimes referred to as "The Launch Pad" because of her sons' nicknames Rocket, Missile, and Bomb.[13]

He converted from Islam in his early teens after his Muslim father died and he was sent to live with his grandmother, a member of an Assemblies of God church.[14][15] Ismail has been described as a "devout Christian"[16]

Ismail is now an inspirational speaker, and enjoys speaking for corporations, schools and churches.

His son, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail Jr. currently plays for the University of Wyoming football team.


  1. ^ "Top 100 Players of All-Time". College Football News. Archived from the original on 2002-12-18.
  2. ^ "Team Of The Century". Sports Illustrated. August 16, 1999.
  3. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/I/IsmaRa00.htm
  4. ^ Wiley, Ralph (September 25, 1989). "The Light And The Lightning". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. p. 4. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  5. ^ Anderson, Dave (November 1, 1990). "The Rocket: Caring, Shy, Compelling". The New York Times. p. B13. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  6. ^ Jenkins, Sally (October 19, 1992). "Call Him Qadry". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. p. 1. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  7. ^ George, Thomas (April 22, 1991). "When Rocket Skips, Lineman Soars to Top". New York Times.
  8. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1996-08-26/sports/sp-37851_1_oakland-raiders
  9. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1876&dat=19990324&id=2jUfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vc8EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6007,5238835&hl=en
  10. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=861&dat=20001107&id=IslaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=gXgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6371,1939215&hl=en
  11. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=861&dat=20020816&id=NcYcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yFkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4659,3305050&hl=en
  12. ^ "Rocket Ismail joins PBR telecast team". ESPN.com. Associated Press. March 18, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  13. ^ "Rocket shows strong path", Greeley Tribune
  14. ^ Weber, Jim (July 28, 2011). "Catching up with Raghib Ismail: Notre Dame's 'Rocket' hopes to score with latest football investment". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  15. ^ Walker, Ken (November 30, 2008). "When Muslims Find Jesus". Charisma. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  16. ^ Wiseman, Steve (November 7, 1996). "Rocket Takes Off, Gives Panthers Lift". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Retrieved November 19, 2010.

External links

1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

The 1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season. The Irish, coached by Lou Holtz, ended the season with 12 wins and no losses, winning the national championship. The Fighting Irish won the title by defeating the previously unbeaten and No. 3 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, by a score of a 34–21. The 1988 squad, one of 11 national title squads for the Irish, is considered to be one of the best undefeated teams in the history of college football. The Irish beat the teams which finished the season ranked #2, #4, #5, and #7 in the AP Poll. They also won 10 of 12 games by double digits. The 1988 squad is best remembered for its 31-30 upset of No. 1 ranked Miami, ending their 36-game regular season winning streak. The game is remembered to this day as one of the most memorable games in all of college football.

1989 Fiesta Bowl

The 1989 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, played on Monday, January 2, was the 18th edition of the Fiesta Bowl. It featured the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the third-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. With both teams undefeated, the Fiesta Bowl was the stage for the "national championship" for the second time in three years. As in 1987, the Fiesta Bowl featured two independents squaring off for the national title.

Also, as in 1987, the game was played on January 2, but this was because New Year's Day fell on a Sunday in 1989 and, per protocols, all of the bowls that would normally take place that day were played on January 2. With NBC no longer televising the Rose Bowl, the kickoff for the Fiesta Bowl was moved three hours later, to 2:30 p.m. MST, and the game now had NBC's top broadcast team of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen.

1989 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

The 1989 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was coached by Lou Holtz and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

1990 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

The 1990 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was coached by Lou Holtz and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

1990 Orange Bowl

The 1990 Federal Express Orange Bowl was a college football bowl game that was played on January 1, 1990, as part of the 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season. The 56th edition of the Orange Bowl featured the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado entered the game undefeated and ranked number one in both polls, while Notre Dame entered the game coming off their only loss of the season to the rival Miami Hurricanes in the final week of the season. Notre Dame would spoil a championship season for the Buffaloes with a 21-6 victory, Colorado's loss allowed Miami to win the National Championship, with Notre Dame finishing number two.

1991 Toronto Argonauts season

The 1991 Toronto Argonauts season was the 102nd season for the team since the franchise's inception in 1873. The team finished in first place in the East Division with a 13–5–0 record and qualified for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. The Argonauts defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Eastern Final and qualified for the 79th Grey Cup. Toronto defeated the Calgary Stampeders in a rematch of the 1971 Grey Cup, winning their 12th Grey Cup championship by a score of 36-21.

2018 Wyoming Cowboys football team

The 2018 Wyoming Cowboys football team represented the University of Wyoming during the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Cowboys are coached by fifth-year head coach Craig Bohl and play their home games at War Memorial Stadium as a member of the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. They finished the regular season 6–6, 4–4 in Mountain West play to finish in third place in the Mountain division. Despite being bowl eligible, they were not invited to a bowl game.

55 metres

55 metres is a sprint event in track and field. It is a relatively uncommon non-championship event for indoor track and field.

The history of the event lies in the 60-yard dash, which roughly equates to 55 metres. For this reason, the event is most popular in countries which use or have used imperial measurements, especially the United States. Unlike the 50 metres and 60 metres running events, the 55 metres is not an IAAF recognised event.

79th Grey Cup

The 79th Grey Cup was the 1991 Canadian Football League championship game played between the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders at Winnipeg Stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Argonauts defeated the Stampeders 36-21 in an entertaining game.

Billy Davis (wide receiver)

Billy Davis (born July 6, 1972 in El Paso, Texas) is a former professional American football wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens. He played college football at the University of Pittsburgh.

Carl Brazley

Carl Eugene Brazley (born September 5, 1957 in Louisville, Kentucky) was a football player in the Canadian Football League for thirteen years. Brazley played defensive back for the Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Rough Riders and Toronto Argonauts from 1980 to 1992. He was a CFL All-Star in 1983, the same season he won the Grey Cup with the Argonauts. Brazley also played for the San Diego Chargers as a replacement player in 1987. He played college football at Western Kentucky University. He ended his 13-year career in 1993, playing with the Toronto Argonauts.

He has a wife Jan, a son Nikolas, and a daughter Sunni who all live in Louisville, Kentucky. Nikolas played for the Kentucky as a wide receiver from 2006 to 2011.

Darrell K. Smith

Darrell Karland Smith (November 5, 1961 – February 13, 2017) was a wide receiver and slotback who played eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, mainly for the Toronto Argonauts. His move to the Edmonton Eskimos in 1993 was a part of the largest trade in CFL history, involving 16 players. Smith played college football at Central State University.

In 1990, he caught a league record of 20 touchdowns.Smith died of cancer on February 13, 2017, aged 55.

Don Moen (Canadian football)

Don Moen (born April 29, 1960) is a former linebacker who played thirteen seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts. Moen holds the record for most games played in a career as an Argonaut with 222. During Moen's tenure in the CFL he won 2 Grey Cup championships with Toronto in 1983 and 1991.

In 2007 Moen was made a member of the "All-time Argos" team, joining Argo greats such as Mike O'Shea, Doug Flutie and Mike "Pinball" Clemons.

Harold Hallman

Harold Hallman (December 10, 1962 – December 23, 2005) was a Canadian Football League defensive tackle who played eight seasons in the CFL, mainly for the Toronto Argonauts. Hallman was a four-time All Star and won a Grey Cup with Toronto in 1991. He also won both the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie Award and the Jackie Parker Trophy in 1986. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL in the 10th round of the 1986 NFL Draft, after playing college football at Auburn University. His selection by the 49ers was made following a recommendation to 49ers head coach Bill Walsh by actor Bradford Dillman. Hallman died in a Macon, Georgia hospital after surgical complications.

Paul Nastasiuk

Paul Gerard Nastasiuk (born July 11, 1963 in Newmarket, Ontario) is a Canadian retired professional football player.

Nastasiuk played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League. He won the Grey Cup as a member of the 1991 Toronto Argonauts team.Nastasiuk was inducted into the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawk Hall of Fame in 2000, and into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame 2008.


Ragheb or Raghib may refer to:

Ali Abu al-Ragheb (born 1946), the Prime Minister of Jordan from June 19, 2000 to October 25, 2003

Awad Ragheb (born 1982), Jordanian footballer of Palestinian origin

Mehrnoush Najafi Ragheb (born 1979), Iranian lawyer, Persian blogger, women's right activist and member of the city council of Hamedan

Ragheb Aga (born 1984), Kenyan cricketer and allrounder

Ragheb Alama (born 1962), Lebanese singer, composer, television personality, and philanthropist

Ragheb Harb (1952–1984), Lebanese resistance leader and Muslim cleric

Ragheb Moftah (1898–2001), Egyptian musicologist and scholar of the Coptic music heritage

Raghib al-Nashashibi (1881–1951), wealthy landowner and public figure during the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate and the Jordanian administration

Al-Raghib al-Isfahani, Islamic scholar

Raghib Ismail (born 1969), retired professional American and Canadian football player

Raghib Pasha (1819–1884), Greek Ottoman politician who served as Prime Minister of Egypt

Raghib Allie-Brennan

Raghib Ismail Allie-Brennan is an American politician and former United States House of Representatives legislative aid. In the 2018 election, Allie-Brennan was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, representing Connecticut's 2nd assembly district. Allie-Brennan succeeded 1 term Republican incumbent Will Duff in a rematch after narrowly losing to Duff, a former 2 time Republican nominee for First Selectman of Bethel, in the race for the open seat vacated by retiring Republican incumbent Dan Carter, who was the unsucsessful Republican nominee for US Senate, 2 years prior. Allie-Brennan is openly gay.

Rocket (nickname)

Rocket or The Rocket is the nickname of:

Rocket Watts (born 2000), American basketball player

Ronnie Baxter (born 1961), English darts player

Roger Clemens (born 1962), American baseball pitcher

Raghib Ismail (born 1969), former professional American football and Canadian football player

Rod Jensen (born 1979), Australian rugby league footballer

Rod Laver (born 1938), Australian tennis player

Rodney Morris (born 1970), pool player

Ricky Nattiel (born 1966), American National Football League player

Ronnie O'Sullivan (born 1975), English snooker player

Maurice Richard (1921–2000), Canadian ice hockey player

Hashim Ridha (born 1979), Iraqi former footballer

Ronny Rosenthal (born 1963), Israeli soccer player, a.k.a. "Rocket Ronny"

Robert Sovik (born 1991), Czech ice hockey player

Rodney Harding

Rodney Harding (born August 1, 1962) was a defensive lineman in the Canadian Football League.

Harding played college football at Oklahoma State University. He had a 12-year career in the Canadian Football League from 1985 to 1996, and he played mainly with the Toronto Argonauts, but ended his career with seasons at the Memphis Mad Dogs and Calgary Stampeders. He was a CFL All-Star two times. He was a part of the Argonauts 1991 Grey Cup winning team.

In 2016, he will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Special teams

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