Igor Olshansky
Olshansky before a 2009 game
No. 95     
Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1982-05-03) May 3, 1982 (age 38)
Place of birth: Dnepropetrovsk, USSR, Ukraine
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 315 lb (143 kg)
Career information
College: Oregon
NFL Draft: 2004 / Round: 2 / Pick: 35
Debuted in 2004 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Career NFL statistics as of Week 5, 2011
Tackles     261
Sacks     12.5
INTs     1
Stats at

Igor Olshansky (pron.: /lˈʃænski/; born May 3, 1982) is a Jewish Ukrainian-born American football defensive end free agent in National Football League. He last played for the Miami Dolphins.

He played college football at the University of Oregon. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and played for them for five years (2004–08). He then played for the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons, 2009–10.

Early yearsEdit

Olshansky was born in the industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, Soviet Union.[1][2] His father Yury had played basketball for the Red Army.[3][4] Shortly before the break-up of the Soviet Union, he and his family moved to San Francisco in 1989, when he was seven years old.[3][4][5] His maternal grandfather, Abraham Rubshevsky, fought in World War II for the Red Army, and was injured 11 times. [3][4]

Olshansky is Jewish, and said "it's who I am; my culture; my roots".[1][6][7] During his youth he attended the Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy in San Francisco, an Orthodox Jewish day school.[3][4][8] He then attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory on a basketball scholarship, and – already 6' 5" in the 10th grade – played basketball for the school until his junior year, while concurrently playing basketball in the Maccabiah Games in St. Louis and Milwaukee.[3][7][9] After two years, he also began playing football in his junior year in high school.[4][5]

College careerEdit

At the University of Oregon, where he majored in psychology, Olshansky was honorable mention academic All-Pac-10 in his freshman year, and picked for Sports Illustrated’s All-Bowl Game team at the end of the season.[10] He was honorable mention All-Pac-10 as a sophomore, second-team All-Pac-10 as a junior, and recipient of the Joe Schaffeld Trophy as the Ducks’ top defensive lineman after both his sophomore and junior seasons.[11] He was used at positions all along the defensive line.[5]

In his career at Oregon he had 146 tackles (89 solos), 11.5 sacks, 3 blocked kicks, and one 37-yard interception return in 38 games.[12][13] Olshansky left school following his junior season, with one year of eligibility remaining.[12]

He set a team record with a 505-pound bench press, and also holds team records in the clean and jerk and squat.[4][14]

In early try-outs for the draft, he bench-pressed 102.1 kilograms (225 lbs) 43 times on one try, two presses short of the rookie record.[3] He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, and jumped 33.5 inches from a standstill, which were both considered impressive for a person his size.[4][7] He had a higher score on the Wonderlic intelligence test than most of the draft-eligible quarterbacks, while "still translating from Russian in his head".[5] A National Football Conference scouting director observed: "He can play both end and tackle, he can control the point and rush the passer, he's a very good athlete."[12]

Professional careerEdit

San Diego ChargersEdit

In the second round (# 35 overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected Olshansky out of the University of Oregon.[15] In August 2004, Olshansky and the Chargers agreed on a 6-year contract, with the final year being voidable. The contract called for a $2.25 million signing bonus and had a value of $5.2 million over five years, through the 2008 NFL season. He became the NFL's first Soviet-born player.[4][16]

In his rookie season in 2004, he started all 16 of the team's games.[17][18]

Olshansky was ejected from a game against the Denver Broncos on November 19, 2006. He punched Broncos center Tom Nalen after what appeared to be Nalen trying to cut block Olshansky on a clock-stopping spike play. Olshansky had recently had knee surgery when Nalen went after Olshansky's knees. Two days later, the NFL fined Nalen $25,000 for the cut block, more than double the $10,000 fine Olshansky received for the punch.[19]

With the Chargers, he had 151 tackles and 11 sacks in 75 games, starting all but 5 of them.[7][20]

Dallas CowboysEdit

Olshansky signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys on March 6, 2009.[7] The deal was worth $18 million, with $8 million of it guaranteed.[21] In 2010, he started 14 games, and had 38 tackles.[22] He was released on September 3, 2011.[23] Over his two seasons with the team, he had 78 tackles.[24]

Miami DolphinsEdit

Olshansky was signed by the Miami Dolphins on September 20, 2011. He was waived on November 30, 2011.[25]


He has many tattoos, including two Stars of David, one on each side of his neck.[7][26] He is regularly featured in Jewish news publications.[8]

Olshansky is married to Liya Rubinshteyn, whom he met at the Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy in San Francisco. They live in Dallas,Texas, and have a son.[10]

He was arrested Thursday, December 1, 2011, for marijuana possession as part of an undercover bust that resulted in 280 arrests. The Broward Sheriff’s Office went to Olshansky’s condo in Fort Lauderdale to investigate Olshansky’s friend, but ended up arresting both men. He was charged with possession of 19 grams of marijuana.[27]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ezra Mendelsohn (2009). Jews and the sporting life. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195382914. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  2. Josh Dubow. "Lineman from Ukraine Could be First-Round Pick".,2700381&dq=igor+olshansky&hl=en. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Levi Brackman, Rivkah Lubitch (June 20, 1995). "NFL star: Judaism is part of me". Ynet.,7340,L-3190526,00.html. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Barry Horn (September 26, 2009). "A spiritual force: Cowboys' Igor Olshansky takes a fierce pride in his Jewish faith". Victoria Advocate. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Ira Miller (April 14, 2004). "NFL DRAFT PREVIEW / Football no longer foreign to Olshansky". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  6. "2011 NFL Football Preview". Jewish Sports Review 8 (87): 6–7. September/October 2011, accessed September 15, 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Josh Whisler (August 2, 2009). "Cowboys add muscle on defense with Olshanksy". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Berkwits, Jeff (July 1, 2004). "Sampson of the gridiron". San Diego Jewish Journal.
  9. Joe Eskenazi (April 30, 2004). "I-Gor! I-Gor!: From Hebrew Academy playground to NFL playbook". Jweekly. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  10. 10.0 10.1 David Elfin (Fall 2010). "Igor Olshansky: Samson of the Gridiron". Bnai Brith Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  11. John Tranchina. "Igor Olshansky continues to provide a presence on the defensive line". Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Igor Throws his Weights Around". Eugene Register-Guard.,5298271&dq=igor+olshansky&hl=en. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  13. "Igor Olshansky, DT, Oregon". USA Today. May 18, 2005.,Igor-DT-Oregon.htm. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  14. "Igor Olshansky’s brute strength could make him a sleeper pick". Portland Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  15. Bob Boyles, Paul Guido (2008). The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Modern Reference to America's Most Colorful Sport, 1953–Present. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. ISBN 9781602393318. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  16. Eric Stephens (August 24, 2004). "Chargers Have Faith in Him; Jewish players are rare in the NFL, but many feel Olshansky will be an impressive rookie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  17. Harvey Rosen (October 20, 2005). "Jewish players, owner score in pro football". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  18. "Rookie Scores as NFL’s First Player From Former Soviet Union". Forward. September 17, 2004. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  19. Kevin Acee,"Olshansky-Nalen incident in back of Chargers' minds", San Diego Union-Tribune, December 5, 2006.
  20. "Igor Olshansky, DT for the Miami Dolphins at". September 18, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  21. Rick Herrin, "Cowboys sign veteran defensive end Olshansky", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 7, 2009.
  22. "Dolphins sign DL Olshansky, CB Jones to shore up defense". September 11, 2001. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  23. "Cowboys cut DE Igor Olshansky". SportingNews.
  26. "San Francisco 49Eers Select Jewish Safety Taylor Mays". San Francisco Sentinel. April 30, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2010
  27. ",0,1819838.story". Orlando Sentinel.,0,1819838.story.[dead link]

External linksEdit

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