November 23, 1937 |
|1962||AFL New York Titans|
|College Football Hall of Fame, 60085|
Kroll's father worked as a laborer in one of the many steel mills that dotted the landscape of Leechburg and other Alle-Kiski Valley communities at that time. Kroll remembers the support system he had growing up with a large extended family that included “an aunt and uncle on almost every block.” He adds, “I was never sure if I were rich or poor. We didn’t have a car or a lot of other amenities, but it didn’t seem relevant because I had these wonderful supporters.”
Driven to succeed in athletics, Alex put himself on a rigorous physical training program. He was captain of the football team his senior year. His talent on the field won him a number of football scholarships, but he turned them down. Ranked second in his class academically, Alex chose to attend Yale on an academic scholarship. He played on Yale’s varsity football team, but a physical argument with a young associate professor got Kroll expelled during his sophomore year.
He enlisted in the Army, serving two years in the military police. Kroll finished his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. While there, he captained the football team and played center on the school’s first undefeated football team, making all seven All-American teams in 1961 and becoming a Henry Rutgers Scholar along the way.
Kroll was a 1962 player for the American Football League's New York Titans (later the Jets), playing center and offensive tackle. In the off-season he worked as an advertising trainee with Young & Rubicam (Y & R).
Life After Football
Alex Kroll spent his entire business career in advertising with Young & Rubicam, where he rose from cub copywriter in 1963 to CEO in 1985, retiring as Chairman and CEO at the end of 1994. Kroll rose rapidly through the ranks in just his first seven years, becoming Executive Vice-President and Creative Director at the agency in 1970 at the age of 33.
During his 10 years as CEO, Y&R’s worldwide billings increased 2½ times, to $8 billion, and its offices more than doubled, to 331. Under his leadership, Y&R opened the first advertising agencies in Russia and China and built the largest agency network in Central and Eastern Europe. Bravo grew into America’s largest Hispanic agency. And, Y&R acquired Landor, the world’s leading identity and design company.
Kroll served as Chairman both for the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Advertising Council, the organization which produces most of the important public service advertising in the U.S. Under his leadership in 1997, the Council developed and launched a dramatic new strategy which focuses more than a billion dollars worth of donated media each year, for ten years, on the plight and problems of American children.
Kroll stepped down from Young and Rubicam in 1994, but still kept busy after his retirement, serving as a senior adviser to the Bill Bradley Presidential Exploratory Committee in 1998, which was formed by former U.S. Senate Democrat Bill Bradley of New Jersey. The committee's intent was to explore a presidential candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.
He developed the Play It Smart program. A program which gives an academic coach to football teams and encourages them to set academic goals. Kroll was featured in the 2009 Showtime program Full Color Football.
He is a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, the NCAA Silver Medal for Excellence, the Walter Camp Distinguished American Award and the American Jewish Committee’s National Human Relations Award. Kroll is also a member of both the National College Football Hall of Fame and the Advertising Hall of Fame.
- Bill Bradley Presidential Exploratory Committee 
- The Horatio Alger Association 
- AAF Hall of Fame