Former Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano has caught on in KC

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

For some reason the guy on the other end of the line couldn’t remember the fifth name of the recent run of former Notre Dame tight ends who are now in the NFL, but Anthony Fasano, one of that group, was there to lend a helping hand.

There was Fasano, then John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph and Troy Niklas, the most recent, but for some reason the fifth wasn’t coming to mind.

No worry. Fasano, the patriarch of the group, so to speak, was able to quickly fill in the blank with Tyler Eifert, adding credence that it’s been a glut of tight ends that the school has produced in the last decade.

“So I guess unofficially it’s Tight End U,” offered Fasano, currently with the Kansas City Chiefs and now in his ninth NFL season. “I guess a lot of people would argue that, but I like to think of it as that.”

He’s allowed. When Fasano left Notre Dame following the 2005 season, leaving a year of eligibility on the table, he began an impressive run of success

Fasano was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, and Carlson (2008, Seattle), Rudolph (2011, Minnesota) and Niklas (2014, Arizona) joined him. Eifert, a first-round pick of Cincinnati in the 2013 draft, rounds out the recent run, and although there were other ND tight ends selected in the years before, all of the five mentioned were considered big-time talents when they left ND.

“We’re all kind of the same kind of player and person,” Fasano said. “I think that mold is something that I’m proud of.”

The 30-year-old Fasano is now in his second season with the Chiefs after spending two years in Dallas before a five-year run in Miami. Fasano signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Chiefs prior to the 2013 season, and he’s found a home.

“I’ve been a couple places in my career,” the Verona, N.J., native said, “but this one feels great and I’ve settled in very well awful quickly.”

Everywhere Fasano has gone, he’s seemed to settle in very well. When Fasano left Notre Dame, he stood second on the school’s all-time list for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end, a spot that has dropped because of the proficiency of Eifert.

Fasano’s two years in Dallas included 11 starts and two postseason appearances. He started all 76 games in which he appeared in Miami. Fasano made 13 starts last season, and this year has caught eight passes for 91 yards and a touchdown for the 2-2 Chiefs, who play at San Francisco on Sunday.

“I think consistency and dependability,” is how Fasano described the reasons he’s been able to stick around for so long. “I take my job and my approach to the game very serious. I know my role in the offense week-by-week, but also when my number’s called, come up and make a play. And also, coaches know what they’re going to get out of me, I think just working at my craft and being dependable.”

Dependable certainly would describe the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Fasano, who in his 125 career games, has caught 244 passes for 2,753 yards and 29 touchdowns. Fasano also has appeared in four postseason contests, but his teams are 0-4 in those contests.

“I want playoff wins. I want a Super Bowl ring,” Fasano said. “Those are the goals – play as long as my body allows me to attain those goals.”

Still, Fasano knows he won’t play forever. He has no idea when the end will come, but he already has put his mind to what he’ll do.

“I think you’re foolish if you don’t think about that,” said Fasano, who graduated from ND with a degree in marketing and has taken part in some offseason NFL programs that touch on business and entrepreneurship. “I think it’s a work in progress and I don’t want to take away from my football to pursue that, but at the same time you’ve got to stick your toe in the water and figure it out so when you are done, you’re able to hit the ground running.”

Fasano still keeps a running tab on his alma mater, and has been back for one game since leaving following the 2005 season.

“There were some years where I had to endure some ridicule in the locker room, but these last couple years I could hold my head high and be proud of my team, as always,” Fasano said. “They’ve still got some good athletes, some good players, good coaching. They’re doing it the right way still.”

He’s also kept close tabs on his tight end brethren. He’s run into them on the field, there are mutual friends, and they’ve seen each other at events.

“It’s been a great kind of little fraternity as the years go on,” Fasano said. “I expect it to keep going, and I hope it does.”

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano (80) is now in his ninth year in the NFL. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)