American Football Database
Thomas Henry "Tommy" Casanova, III
Date of birth: July 29, 1950
Place of birth: New Orleans, Louisiana
Career information
Position(s): DB
College: LSU
NFL Draft: 1972 / Round: 2/ Pick 29
 As player:
1972-1977 Cincinnati Bengals
Career highlights and awards
Pro Bowls: 3
Playing stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

Thomas Henry Casanova, III, known as Tommy Casanova (born July 29, 1950), is an ophthalmologist in Crowley, Louisiana, and a former American football player and politician. He played football for the LSU Tigers and the Cincinnati Bengals. He is also a Republican former member of the Louisiana State Senate, having served from 1996 to 2000.

Early life

Casanova was born in New Orleans on July 29, 1950. While his father, Dr. Thomas H. Casanova Jr. served in the Korean War, Casanova's mother raised her children in New Orleans and Opelousas. When his father returned from Korea, the family moved to Crowley, Louisiana. Casanova graduated in 1968 from the Roman Catholic Notre Dame High School in Crowley, the seat of Acadia Parish.


After high school, Casanova went to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he became one of the greatest LSU football players in the history of the institution. He played three seasons for LSU: 1969, 1970, and 1971.

In 1969, LSU fielded four defensive All-Americans in linebackers George Bevan and Mike Anderson, defensive tackle Ronnie Estay, and defensive back Tommy Casanova. Along with quarterback Mike Hillman, this team has been labeled by some sportswriters as the greatest ever assembled by LSU. The Tigers lost only one game that year to arch-rival University of Mississippi. Yet, the Tigers defeated Auburn University, 21-20, only from an extra point in an afternoon game in Tiger Stadium televised by ABC.[1]

Casanova did it all at LSU, playing running back, punt returner, kick returner, and defensive back. During each of his three years at LSU, he was selected as a member of the College Football All-America Team Casanova is the only three-time All-American in LSU history.[2]) In the September 13, 1971 issue of Sports Illustrated, the magazine featured Casanova on the front cover, with the headline: "Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation." In 2000, the Walter Camp Football Foundation selected Casanova for their All-Century team [3] (honoring the best college football players of the 20th century). Major games from Casanova's time at LSU include #9 LSU's 21-20 victory over #14 Auburn in 1969 (televised on ABC), #14 LSU's 17-9 victory at #6 Auburn in 1970, #11 LSU's 14-9 victory at #19 Alabama in 1970 (televised on ABC), #8 LSU's 61-17 victory over #16 Ole Miss in 1970 (televised on ABC), and #14 LSU's 28-8 victory over #7 Notre Dame in 1971 (televised on ABC). His jersey (#37) was retired from LSU football on October 10, 2009.

Tommy Casanova
Tommy Casanova
LSU Retired Number 37


In 1972, Casanova was drafted in Round 2, pick 29 by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played safety for the Bengals from 1972 to 1977, being selected to the Pro Bowl in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977.[4] Known as a faster than average, hard-hitting free safety, Casanova also collected 17 career interceptions, in what is considered a short career.

Later life

While playing for the Bengals, Casanova began to pursue his M.D. at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. In 1977, he quit playing football early to pursue his medical degree full-time. He graduated from the UC College of Medicine in 1980, and then began a three-year residency in ophthalmology in New Orleans. After completing his residency in 1983, Casanova went on to complete a specialization in Oculoplastic Surgery at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.


In the historically Democratic District 26, the Republican Casanova upset veteran state Senator Armand Brinkhaus of Sunset, a small town in St. Landry Parish, in the 1995 Louisiana nonpartisan blanket primary. Casanova received 21,543 votes (58 percent) to Brinkhaus' 15,753 (42 percent).[5] In addition to Acadia and St. Landry, the district included parts of five other parishes: Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Lafayette. During his term Casanova served alongside another physician, Donald E. Hines of Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish in District 28, who subsequently was the state Senate President from 2004 to 2008.[6]

After a single term, Casanova declined to seek reelection and returned to his ophthalmology practice in Crowley. He was succeeded by the Democrat Fred Hoyt. In the 2003 gubernatorial election, Casanova supported a Democratic candidate, former State Senate President Randy Ewing of Jackson Parish in north Louisiana. Ewing's term as Senate president coincided with Casanova's legislative years.


Casanova resides in Crowley with his wife, the former Jeanne Basara. They have two children, Lauren and Dominic. Like her father before her, Lauren Casanova attended LSU. His son, Dominic Casanova, attends Louisiana State University at Eunice.

Casanova is a member of the Louisiana and Acadia Parish medical societies as well as the Louisiana Clean Team, the LSU Alumni Association, and Ducks Unlimited.


  1. Chet Hilburn, The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football (Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press, 2012), pp. 47-48
  2. Fidencio Enriquez (January 16, 2008). "Greatest Lsu Tigers Of All Time". Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  3. "All-Century College Football Team". Walter Camp Football Foundation. Archived from the original on 9 September 2006. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  4. "Tommy Casanova". Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  5. "Official Election Results Results for Election Date: 10/21/1995". Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  6. "Membership in the Louisiana Senate, 1880-Present". Retrieved October 16, 2013.


Preceded by
Marty Liquori
Thomas Lewis Lyons
Cliff Meely
Kurt L. Schmoke
Joe Theismann
Jack Youngblood
Silver Anniversary Awards (NCAA)
Class of 1997
Tommy Casanova
Jack Ford
David Joyner
Edward B. Rust Jr.
James Tedisco
Herb Washington
Succeeded by
Gary Hall, Sr.
Lawrie Mifflin
Drew Pearson
Cynthia Potter
Sally Ride
Harry Smith
Political offices
Preceded by
Armand Brinkhaus
Louisiana State Senator for the 26th District, including Acadia Parish

Thomas H. "Tommy" Casanova, III

Succeeded by
Fred Hoyt