Friday, December 10, 2010

Denver Broncos

Here are the 1968 Denver Broncos cards. Most NFL teams seemed to have 9 cards, while the AFL teams had 8 cards. Aside from Floyd Little, there's not much here to write home about. I had 5 of these cards back in 1968 (3 of which apparently I found necessary to redefine their positions), acquired Bob Scarpitto and Nemiah Wilson in the 1980s, and just got Floyd Little this year.

The Broncos were one of the perennially lousy AFL teams, losing at least 10 games in 6 of their first 8 seasons. They didn't have a winning record until 1973 (7-5-2).

#69 Steve Tensi - It seems that the Broncos' lack of success in their early years was due to not having a good quarterback. While other AFL teams had Len Dawson, Daryle Lamonica, Jack Kemp, Joe Namath, Bob Griese, and John Hadl, the Broncos employed the likes of Frank Tripucka, Mickey Slaughter, Jacky Lee, John McCormick, Max Choboian, Steve Tensi, Marlin Briscoe, Pete Liske, and Steve Ramsey. Not until 1972 would they have a "good" QB (Charley Johnson). Hmmm... I haven't really talked about Steve Tensi yet. 'Nuff said.

#173 Floyd Little - This is by far the worst conditioned of all my football cards. I just picked it up (in "good" status) earlier this year as a place-holder, since it was one of the last 3 cards I needed for the set. Floyd Little was one of the best running backs in the AFL. Floyd was the Broncos' #1 pick in 1967, and was their starting halfback for his entire career (1967-75). He played in 5 Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

#17 Bo Hickey - Does Bo know football? It would appear not, since his entire career consisted of 12 games for the 1967 Broncos.

#121 Al Denson - Denson was drafted in the 6th round by both the Broncos and Eagles in 1964. He played for the Broncos from 1964 to 1970, and was their starting tight end in 1966, then started at wide receiver from 1967-70. His 11 TDs in 1967 led the AFL. Al finished his career in 1971 with the Vikings.

#95 Eric Crabtree - Eric was drafted in 1966 by the Broncos and the Colts. He played for Denver from 1966-68, the last 2 seasons as a starting wide receiver. He was one of the Cincinnati Bengals' starting receivers from 1969 to midway through the 1971 season. He finished out the 1971 season with the Patriots.

#42 Tom Beer - Beer was the Broncos' #2 pick in 1967, and started at tight end from 1967 to 1969. From 1970 to 1972 he played for the Patriots, and was their starting TE in 1971. He also played the guard position in 1970.

#199 Nemiah Wilson - Wilson played for the Broncos from 1965-67, the last 2 seasons as their starting right cornerback. He was traded to the Raiders prior to the 1968 season, and was a starting cornerback there from 1969 to 1973. He played 2 more seasons with Oakland as a backup cornerback.

#147 Bob Scarpitto - Bob began his career in 1961, playing sparingly as a Chargers' flanker. From 1962 to 1966, he was the Broncos' starting flanker. making from 21 to 35 catches in each of those seasons, and made the Pro Bowl in 1966. Mysteriously, he was limited to 1 reception in 1967. He was the Broncos' punter from 1965-67. In 1968, he was the Boston Patriots' punter.

Also see the 1971 Broncos.

This post wraps up the 10 AFL teams. Next time: Baltimore Colts

Monday, June 28, 2010

San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers finished in 3rd place with an 8-5-1 record in 1967. In 1968, they improved slightly to 9-5, but still finished in 3rd place. Among all the mediocrity were 2 future Hall-of-Famers: Lance Alworth and Ron Mix.

I had Garrison, Frazier, Mix, and Redman in 1968. The others (as with all the 2nd-series cards) were acquired in the 1980s.

#63 John Hadl - Hadl was drafted by the Chargers in 1962, and became the starting QB as a rookie when Jack Kemp was 1st sidelined by an injury, then Kemp was lost to the Buffalo Bills in a botched waiver move. After losing the starting job to veteran Tobin Rote in 1963, John regained the position in 1964 and held it through the 1972 season. He later played for the Rams, Packers, and Oilers, retiring after the 1977 season. Hadl (#21) was the last QB to wear a jersey number higher than #19.

#141 Brad Hubbert - Brad played for the Chargers from 1967-70, and was their starting fullback in 1967 and 1969. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

#193 Lance Alworth - Alworth was one of the all-time top receivers in the AFL. He led the league in receptions in '66, '68, and '69, in receiving yards in '65, '66, and '68, and in touchdowns in '64, '65, and '66. Although drafted by the Raiders in 1962, he began his career with the Chargers that season, and was San Diego's starting flanker from 1963-70. He also played for the Cowboys in 1971 and 1972, appearing in Super Bowl VI. A seven-time Pro Bowler, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.

#36 Gary Garrison - Gary looks more like a star from 77 Sunset Strip than a football player here. Drafted by the Eagles in 1965, Garrison was the Chargers' starting split end from 1966-75, and finished his career in 1977 with the Oilers.

#11 Willie Frazier - After 2 seasons (1964-65) as the Oilers' tight end, Willie started for the Chargers from 1966-70. In 1971 and 1972, he played for the Oilers and Chiefs. After missing 2 seasons, he returned in 1975 to play 5 games with the Oilers.

#89 Ron Mix - Ron played all 10 seasons for the Chargers in the AFL (1960-69). He made first-team all-pro in his first 9 seasons as the Chargers' starting right offensive tackle (right guard in 1962). After missing the 1970 season, he finished up with the Raiders in 1971. Mix was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979.

#115 Rick Redman - Redman was drafted by both the Chargers and Eagles in 1965, but played his entire career (1965-73) with the Chargers. Early on, he was the team's starting middle linebacker, but moved outside for his final 3 seasons. He was also the team's punter for his first 3 seasons.

#167 "Speedy" Duncan - Duncan played for the Chargers from 1964-70, and was the team's primary kick and punt returner. He was also the starting right cornerback from 1965-69. Speedy later played for the Redskins from 1971-74, primarily as a kick and punt returner.

Also see the 1971 and 1972 Chargers.

Next time: Denver Broncos

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Houston Oilers

The Houston Oilers were the AFL's early success story, playing in the league championship from 1960-62, and winning the first two. After 4 losing seasons, they were back in 1st place (East Division) in 1967 with a 9-4-1 record. In 1968, they slid back to 7-7.

#198 Pete Beathard - Beathard was the Chiefs (and Lions) 1st-round pick in the 1964 draft. After 7 seasons with George Blanda at QB, the Oilers acquired Pete from the Chiefs in 1967 and he got them back to a 1st place finish. His next 2 seasons weren't as successful, and he found himself moving on to the Cardinals (1970-71), Rams (1972), and back to the Chiefs (1973).

#120 Sid Blanks - Blanks was the Oilers' halfback in 1964 and 1966-68, before finishing his career with the Boston Patriots in 1969-70. He missed the 1965 season.

#146 Ode Burrell - Burrell played for the Oilers from 1965-69. He was the starting halfback in 1966 and 1967, before switching to flanker in 1968.

#16 Bobby Maples - Maples played the first 6 years of his career (1965-70) for the Houston Oilers. He was an outside linebacker in his rookie season, and the starting center for the other seasons. After one season with the Steelers (1971), he spent the remainder of his career (1972-78) as the Broncos' center.

#68 Bob Talamini - An original Oiler, Bob was Houston's starting left guard from 1960-67, before filling the same role for the Jets in 1968, his final season.

#94 Walt Suggs - Walt was the Oilers' 3rd-round pick in 1961. After not playing in 1961 and backing up in 1962, Suggs was the Oilers' starting left offensive tackle from 1963-70. He switched to center for his final season of 1971.

#172 Miller Farr - Farr was the starting strong safety for Denver and San Diego during his rookie season of 1965. After starting at left cornerback for the Chargers in 1966, Miller started at left corner for the Oilers from 1967-69, leading the AFL with 10 interceptions in 1967. From 1970-72, he was a starting cornerback for the Cardinals. He finished his career in 1973 with the Lions. His brother Mel was a running back for the Lions.

#41 Jim Norton - Jim is another original Oiler from 1960. After starting at cornerback in 1960, he was a starting safety from 1961-63 and 1965-67. He was also the Oilers' punter from 1961-68.

Also check out the 1972 Oilers.

Next time: San Diego Chargers

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cincinnati Bengals

Here are the expansion Cincinnati Bengals - the AFL's 10th and final team. The league started with 8 teams, then the Miami Dolphins were added in 1965. It appears that all these players were selected from the Chiefs, Chargers, or Broncos.

There is no quarterback card for this team, probably because the Bengals didn't select any in the expansion draft. The team used 3 starting QBs in 1968, primarily John Stofa, who played for the Dolphins in 1966-67, and 1969-70.

The Bengals finished 3-11 in their inaugural season, last place in the West Division. They beat the Bills, Broncos, and Dolphins, and scored more points than the Buffalo Bills, who finished 1-12-1, last in the East Division.

#43 Chris Burford - Burford played 8 seasons (1960-67) as the split end for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, and had 4 receptions in Super Bowl I. He retired after the 1967 season, rather than play for the Bengals.

#148 Andre White - The Redskins' 19th-round pick in 1966, White's playing career consisted of 14 games for the Broncos in 1967, and 8 games in 1968 (3 with the Bengals and 5 with the Chargers). He was a tight end.

#200 Ernie Wright - Ernie was the Chargers' starting left offensive tackle from 1960 to 1967, then was the Bengals' starting left tackle from 1968 to 1971. He finished his career back in San Diego in 1972.

#70 - Dick Van Raaphorst - Dick's career consisted of 1964 with the Cowboys, and 1966-1967 with the Chargers. He was also on San Diego's taxi squad in 1965. He did not play for the Bengals.

#96 Sherrill Headrick - Headrick was the Chiefs' starting middle linebacker from 1960 to 1967. (After losing Headrick in the expansion draft, the Chiefs moved 1967 rookie right linebacker Willie Lanier to the middle, and you know the rest.) Headrick only played one season with the Bengals, since 1969 2nd-round pick Bill Bergey took over the position as a rookie.

#18 Frank Buncom - Drafted by the Chargers in 1962, Frank was a backup for 2 seasons before starting at middle linebacker in 1964. He was then the starting right linebacker for the Chargers from 1965-67, and for the Bengals in 1968, his only season in Cincinnati.

#122 Bobby Hunt - Bobby was drafted by the Chiefs (Dallas Texans) in 1962, and was their starting strong safety for 6 seasons. In 1966, he led the AFL with 10 interceptions, and also played in Super Bowl I. He finished his career as the Bengals' strong safety in 1968 and 1969.

#174 Lonnie Wright - Lonnie played safety for the Broncos in 1966 and 1967, but did not play for the Bengals in 1968.  He had already switched to basketball in January, signing with the ABA.


The Bengals limped along to a 3-11 record in their inaugural season, with several journeymen (including John Stofa and Sam Wyche) starting at quarterback. In the 1969 draft, the Bengals selected QB Greg Cook with the 5th overall pick. Cook was a local favorite from the University of Cincinnati. As a senior in 1968, he led the nation in total offense with 3,210 yards, and was 2nd in passing. As a rookie with the Bengals in 1969, he was the AFL's leading passer, while only playing 11 of the 14 games.

Sadly, he suffered a torn rotator cuff in game 3 which was mis-diagnosed. After missing 3 games, he returned to finish the season. After the season, it was discovered that continuing to play did permanent damage to his arm, including torn biceps, which brought an abrupt end to a promising career. It would not be until the arrival of Ken Anderson in 1972 that the Bengals' QB situation would settle down.

Also check out the 1972 Bengals.

Next time: Houston Oilers

Monday, March 8, 2010

Buffalo Bills

Here are the 1968 Buffalo Bills. Eight cards, yet only one defensive player is featured. The Bills are just coming off a 4-10 season in 1967, finishing 3rd in the East Division. In 1968, they would sink to 1-12-1 (beating only the Jets) which guaranteed them the status of "Worst team in football". The prize would be #1 draft pick O. J. Simpson.

#149 Jack Kemp - Kemp was the Lions' 17th-round pick in 1957. He didn't play for the Lions, but spent 1957 with the Steelers. (Now we can add Kemp to the list of QBs who rode the bench in Pittsburgh in the late 1950s, along with Johnny Unitas and Lenny Dawson!) After not playing in 1958-59, Kemp joined the AFL's new Los Angeles Chargers in 1960. He started 26 of 28 games for the Chargers in 1960 and 1961. After missing some games in 1962 due to injuries, he was lost to the Bills in a botched-up injury waivers move. Jack was the Bills' starting QB from 1963 to 1969, except for missing the entire 1968 season (hence the 1-12-1 record). He was a 7-time Pro-bowler, and retired after the 1969 season. He then went into politics, advancing all the way to Vice-Presidential candidate in 1996.

#19 Keith Lincoln - Lincoln played with the Chargers from 1961-66. He came to the Bills for 1967, and after 4 games in 1968, he returned to San Diego, retiring after the 1968 season. Keith played in 5 Pro Bowls.

#97 Wray Carlton - Carlton was the Philadelphia Eagles' 3rd-round pick in 1959, but didn't play for them. He played his entire career (1960-67) for the Bills, making the Pro Bowl twice.

#71 Art Powell - Art was also drafted by the Eagles in 1959 (11th round), and was their starting free safety in his rookie season. From 1960-62 he was the starting split end for the New York Titans (Jets), a position he also held with the Raiders from 1963-66. In 1962 and 1963, he led the AFL in receiving yards. He played sparingly for Buffalo (1967) and Minnesota (1968) at the end of his career.

#175 Paul Costa - At 256 pounds, it's safe to assume Costa was the tight end! In 1964, he was drafted by both the Packers and the Chiefs, but played for neither. Paul played his entire career with the Bills, first as their tight end (1965-68), then as the right tackle (1969-72).

#44 Stew Barber - Stew was drafted by the Bills and Cowboys in 1961. He was the Bills' starting right linebacker during his rookie season, then started at left offensive tackle from 1962 until his retirement after the 1969 season. He made the Pro Bowl from 1963 to 1967.

#123 Mike Mercer - Mercer's career spanned 1961 to 1970, playing for 6 teams (Vikings, Raiders, Chiefs, Bills, Packers, Chargers). He also punted while with the Vikings, Raiders, and Chargers.

#201 George Saimes - Saimes was drafted by the Chiefs and Rams in 1963, but played for the Bills from 1963 to 1969, where he was their starting free safety each season. He finished his career in Denver from 1970-72, and was the Broncos' starting free safety in 1971.

Also check out the 1971 Bills.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boston Patriots

Here are the 1968 Boston Patriots. These guys helped lead the Patriots to records of 3-10-1 and 4-10 in 1967 and 1968.

#176 Don Trull - Trull was a 14th-round pick for the Houston Oilers in 1963. He didn't play in 1963, and couldn't unseat the 37-to-39-year-old George Blanda from 1964 to 1966. In 1967, he split the season between Houston and Boston. That was enough to get him this football card, but in 1968 he was back with the Oilers, this time backing up the great Pete Beathard in 1968 and 1969. The decade and Trull's career ended simultaneously.
(By the way, in 1968 rookie Tom Sherman and ex-Jet backup Mike Taliaferro each started half the games at QB for the Patriots.)

#72 Jim Nance - At 245 pounds, Nance was huge for a running back in his day. He was a 1965 draft pick by the Patriots, and was their fullback for 7 seasons. He missed the 1972 season, and ended his career in 1973 with the Jets. He led the AFL in rushing in 1966 and 1967 with 1458 and 1216 yards.

#150 Art Graham - Art was the Patriots' 1st-round pick in 1963, and spent his entire career (1963-68) as their split end.

#20 Jim Whalen - This tight end was the Patriots' 3rd-round pick in 1965. After 5 seasons in Boston, he was the Broncos' starting tight end in 1970, before finishing his career in 1971 as a backup with the Eagles.

#98 Gino Cappelletti - Ahh, the good olde days, when kickers actually did something else to earn their pay between kicks. As a rookie in 1960, Gino was the Patriots' kicker and starting right cornerback, snaring 4 interceptions. From 1961 to 1967, he kicked and was a starting split end or flanker, averaging 40 catches per season. After 1967, he began phasing out his receiving duties, having 13 receptions in 1968 and 1 in 1969. He retired after the 1970 season.

#124 Nick Buoniconti - Nick was drafted by the Patriots in 1962, and immediately became their starting middle linebacker. After 7 seasons in Boston, he escaped to bigger and better things in 1969 with the Miami Dolphins. He was the Dolphins' starting middle linebacker for 6 seasons, appearing in 3 Super Bowls. Buoniconti missed the 1975 season, and finished his career in 1976 with the Dolphins as a backup. An 8-time Pro Bowler, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

#45 Leroy Mitchell - Mitchell was the Patriots' 11th-round pick in 1967. For 2 seasons, he started every game at left cornerback. After missing the 1969 season, he played for the Houston Oilers in 1970. He was the Denver Broncos' starting left cornerback for his last 3 seasons (1971-73).

#202 John Charles - Charles was the Patriots' 1st-round pick in 1967. As a rookie he was the starting right cornerback, before moving to strong safety for 1968 and 1969. John played for the Vikings in 1970, before moving to the Houston Oilers for his final 4 seasons.

Coming March 2nd: Buffalo Bills