Csonka began his football career at Stow High School as the starting tailback on the 1963 Stow Bulldogs squad that won the Metropolitan League of the Akron-area championship under coach Dick Fortner.
He played for Stow from 1960 to 1963.
Csonka was recruited by Clemson, Iowa, Vanderbilt, and Syracuse.
He chose Syracuse, where he played middle linebacker in his first season before being switched to fullback from 1965 to 1967, the position where he was named an All-American.
He established many of the school’s rushing records, including some previously held by Ernie Davis, Jim Nance, Floyd Little, and Jim Brown.
During the 1972 season, the Dolphins became the only team since the AFL-NFL Merger to go undefeated, and Csonka was an instrumental part of the success, rushing for a career best 1,117 yards.
Csonka led all rushers in Super Bowl VII with 112 yards on only 15 carries.
Late in the third quarter, Csonka had a run that epitomized his style.
After breaking several tackles near the line of scrimmage, he rumbled for 49 yards.
Near the end of that run, Washington Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer, who was known as a fearless and gritty tackler, came up to try to tackle Csonka.
Instead of trying to avoid Fischer, Csonka actually turned toward him and threw a forearm at him, brushing the 175-pound Fischer aside.
From 1998 through 2013, 16 years Csonka was Producer and co-host of Napa’s North to Alaska, before retiring the show.
Csonka also did Csonka Outdoors, 1998-05 on ESPN-2 and OLN.
In early September 2005, Csonka and five others were returning by boat to the village of Nikolski on Umnak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian’s after filming a reindeer hunt on the island for Csonka’s TV show, North to Alaska.
The boat was caught in a severe storm and nearly capsized.
They rode out the storm for 10 hours before a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter could reach them and rescue them one-by-one in a basket.
Csonka, who was born in Stow, Ohio, on December 25, 1946, startled the pro football world by playing out his option with Miami in 1974 and then joining the Memphis’ Southmen of the World Football League.
When the WFL folded, he joined the New York Giants as a free agent in 1976.
He enjoyed moderate success for three seasons with the Giants before returning to the Dolphins for a final 1979 season.
Csonka’s final fling proved to be a success.
In November 2013, Csonka was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of “Hometown Hall of Famers,” a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sport’s greatest coaches, players, and contributors with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities.
Csonka was presented with a plaque during a ceremony in the Stow High School gym, where the plaque will stay permanently to serve as an inspiration for the school’s students and athletes.