Diamond Ferri: Three-time Grey Cup Champion
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the first in a month-long series about noteworthy black Americans in Everett, taken from vignettes written by former City Clerk Michael Matarazzo in his book ‘They Came from Everett.’ The histories of many black residents of Everett might surprise readers, as many of their stories have never been fully told. There are judges, former slaves who become hotel operators, football players and a former ambassador. It is hoped our readers enjoy these pieces as much as we did. Matarazzo’s book is available at bookblues.com.
Diamond Ferri’s feats in the backfield for Everett High School were legendary. Diamond was quick, agile, hard-hitting and graceful; all at the same time. He was a complete player on both sides of the ball and helped lead Everett to two Super Bowls. In his senior year, he was ranked as the 98th top high school prospect in the nation, first in Massachusetts and the 13th highest-ranked running back in the nation. He was highly-recruited and chose to commit to Syracuse.
Things didn’t go as smoothly with the Orange and he was moved to the defensive side of the ball as a safety. However, on Nov. 27, 2004, Diamond put on a display of two-way football versus Boston College that will stand the test of time.
With their starting running back sidelined and their back-up injured early, Syracuse turned to Ferri and he more than delivered. While still lining up at safety on the defense, Diamond took over at halfback and carried the ball 28 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He also picked off a Matt Ryan pass and returned it 44 yards for another touchdown and Syracuse upset #17 Boston College 43-17. As a result, he became the only player in Big East history to win both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week in the same week. Later that year, he went on to be named an All Big East First Team Selection, an ECAC Division I All-Star and Syracuse’s MVP.
Entering the NFL draft, teams weren’t sure what they would get in Ferri – a halfback, a safety or special teamer. As a result, he went undrafted but was signed by the Giants and then the Falcons. Atlanta allocated him to NFL Europa where he played running back for the Amsterdam Admirals. Ferri averaged 4.0 yards for the Admirals on 84 carries for 333 yards and two TDs. He also served a return specialist for the Admirals who went on to, but lost, the championship to the Frankfurt Galaxy.
After a short stint with the Toronto Argonauts and a semi-pro team in Lowell, Diamond caught on with the Arizona Cardinals. His stay with the Cardinals, however, would be short as well.
In 2007, he signed with the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Montreal Alouettes. Unfortunately, he missed the last three weeks of the season when he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. He would return the next year and showed great promise as the bulked-up Ferri led the Alouettes in most tackles for losses and finished second for most tackles and most interceptions. Diamond’s nose for the ball caused him to usually finish in the top three on his teams in fumbles caused or recovered. Diamond would go on to win three Grey Cup Championships in the CFL; two with Montreal (2009-2010) and one with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2013). It was in 2013 that a video featuring Ferri became an internet sensation. After intercepting a pass and dodging tacklers, the 5-11, 223 pound Ferri was hit by Edmonton’s 6’11” 340 pounds offensive lineman Matt O’Donnell and knocked to the sideline. Ferri stayed down for awhile but soon got up to the cheer of the crowd. His professional career ended in 2014.