January 7, 1963 - The Houston Oilers representatives to the 1963 AFL All-Star Game. Back Row - Rich Michael, Ed Husmann, Bob Talamini, Charlie Hennigan, Don Floyd, George Blanda. Front Row - Freddy Glick, Jim Norton, Tony Banfield, Bob Schmidt, Charlie Tolar, Al Jamison.

January 13, 1963 - Austin Gonsoulin of the Denver Broncos makes a leaping interception in front of the Houston Oilers Charlie Hennigan, in the second annual AFL All-Star Game.

November 11, 1962 - The San Diego Chargers Ernie Ladd prepares to tackle Cookie Gilchrist, the Buffalo Bills star running back and 1962 AFL Most Valuable Player.

November 15, 1964 - The Chargers defense swarms over Chiefs running back, Curtis McClinton.

November 6, 1964 - George Blanda drops back against the Patriots defense in Fenway Park.

November 23, 1967 - Daryle Lamonica and the Raiders facing the tough Chiefs defense in Kansas City Municipal Stadium.

 

The Toughest of Them All?

When recalling the dominant players in the AFL, there is probably no one who held reign over his particular position on the field, and in the league, better than the Oakland Raiders’ Jim Otto.  Otto was dominant in the way the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees and U.S. Steel have been dominant.  During the AFL’s 10-year run, Jim Otto was THE ONLY man to be named First Team All-League at center.  From 1960-1974, Otto was THE ONLY starting center the Raiders had.  Awards?  He won them all.  All-Star, Pro Bowl, All-League, AFL All-Time Team, Team of the Decade, Pro Football Hall of Fame, etc., etc., etc…

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The Legendary Tom Sestak

I had originally gone looking for an article about the Buffalo Bills defensive end, Tom Day, last night when I stumbled upon a great old Sports Illustrated piece on Day’s teammate, Tom Sestak.  One of two defensive tackles on the league’s All-Time Team (Houston Antwine is the other), Tom Sestak ravaged offensive lines throughout the AFL.  Sestak was that rare combination of size, speed, strength and heart.  In addition, his threshold for pain was nearly off the charts.  He was the measuring stick for his position in the 1960s.

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An AFL Original – Cotton Davidson

One of the great early AFL quarterbacks was a man from Gatesville, Texas, by the name of Cotton Davidson.  A former NFL castoff, Davidson broke into the AFL with the Dallas Texans.  He was traded to Oakland after the Texans picked up Len Dawson in 1962, and stayed with the Raiders through the 1968 season.  In August 2012, the Cove Herald talked to Davidson about his time in professional football

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1965 Denver Broncos

After mostly finishing at the bottom of the western division in years past, optimism was a bit higher in the Denver Broncos camp heading into the 1965 season.  Denver had signed two of the league’s greatest running backs in Cookie Gilchrist and Abner Haynes, and with the receiving threat in Lionel Taylor, Bronco fans were hoping for great things to come from their offense.  Sports Illustrated acknowledged the improvements on the offensive side of the ball, but had little faith in the Denver defense, and still expected them to finish last in the division.

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Sherman’s Battle of the Bulge

Sherman Plunkett played on some fantastic football teams.  As a rookie, he was a member of the Baltimore Colts squad that won the 1958 NFL championship game over the New York Giants.  After leaving the NFL in 1960, Plunkett latched on with the San Diego Chargers for the 1961 & 1962 seasons.  In 1963, he rejoined his old coach, Weeb Ewbank, this time as a member of the New York Jets.

Plunkett was one of professional football’s early big men, weighing more that 300 lbs. back when that kind of size was more the exception than the rule.  But like many of pro football’s biggest linemen, Plunkett’s girth sometimes got away from him.  The following article from Sports Illustrated in August, 1968, covers Plunkett’s last days in the AFL.  He was soon released.  After playing in 132-consecutive regular season games from 1958-1967, Sherman Plunkett found himself out of the game in 1968, a victim of his own voracious appetite.

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