Monthly Archives: October 2011

>They Called Him Psycho

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The 1962 Dallas Texans All-Stars.  Top – David Webster, Cotton Davidson, Abner Haynes.  Bottom – E.J. Holub, Mel Branch, Bill Krisher, Jon Gilliam, Sherrill Headrick, Paul Rochester, Chris Burford.

Sherrill Headrick was a Texan.  Born in Waco in 1937, Headrick attended North Side High School before taking his gridiron talents to Texas Christian University.  After leaving TCU, Headrick had a short stint in the Canadian Football League before he returned to Texas and began working in an oil field.

When the Dallas Texans were first signing players for their initial training camp in 1960, Sherrill Headrick was one of the men that they targeted.  After surviving training camp in Roswell, New Mexico, Headrick and settled into a linebacker position with the Texans, from which he earned All-AFL honors in his first three seasons.

Stories abound of his high threshold for pain, which combined with his intensity on the field earned Headrick the respect of his teammates, and also a nickname.  They called him Psycho.  Among the injuries sustained by Psycho that somehow did not manage to put him on the sidelines – a broken neck, infected gums and a fractured thumb.  Once when he broke a bone in his finger so badly that it was protruding from the skin, he insisted that the trainer pop it back in and tape it up so that he could continue playing.

Sherrill Headrick played eight seasons with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs before ending his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted Headrick in the 1968 AFL expansion draft.  In 116 professional games, #69 recorded 15 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns.

Sherrill Headrick was still a friend to fans and collectors long after his retirement.  So much so, that despite suffering the ravages of cancer that would eventually take his life on September 10, 2008, he continued to sign autographs long after most people would have given up. 

In March of 2008, I sent a 1969 Topps card to Mr. Headrick with a letter asking if he would please sign it for me.  I had not known that he was ill; if I had, I would not have bothered him with the request.  After learning of his passing later that year, I figured that he had probably been too ill to sign.  As a cancer survivor myself, I knew full-well how terribly you can feel while being treated for the wretched disease.  I had forgotten about the request until March 16, 2009, when I received the card back, autographed in Sherrill Headrick’s shaky hand.  It speaks volumes of Mr. Headrick that he would want to honor a fan’s request, even feeling as poorly as he did.  It also says something about the quality of his family that they would make sure that I received the card, after apparently finding it several months after his passing.

>Houston Oilers: The Early Years – A Book Review

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In the last 10 years, there have been a number of excellent books written about various subjects related to the American Football League.  From team histories to player biographies, game reviews to works focusing strictly on the AFL-NFL merger, authors have been working diligently on bringing forth the rich history of the old AFL.   Though it is not new to my personal library, I have recently pulled out one such book that I particularly enjoy; Houston Oilers: The Early Years by Kevin Carroll.  Houston Oilers: The Early Years, is a 277-page paperback issue that cover the Oilers franchise from inception in 1959 through their second AFL championship in 1961.  Interspersed throughout the story of the team’s formative years, author Kevin Carroll mixed in chapters dedicated solely to individual players, as well as to Coach Lou Rymkus and trainer Bobby Brown.  In my mind, this book’s strength is the colorful stories of players and situations that do a fantastic job of giving the “flavor” of the AFL.  In describing bowling ball-shaped running back, Charlie Tolar, Carroll quotes an unidentified Oilers opponent as saying, “Tolar was so tough that when he ran you could hear clanking metal.  It was the sound of his testicles knocking together.” Carrol uses an equally-humorous story to illustrate the long-standing feud between Coach Lou Rymkus and the Chargers Sid Gillman.  One Sunday morning, Rymkus and two of his players were coming out of a church service. “Isn’t it a beautiful morning!” exclaimed Rymkus “It sure is, Lou,” a player responded. “And what a great day to play football!” Rymkus added. “Couldn’t be better,” replied another. “I only wish that Gillman was here right now – I’d kill him!” chirped Rymkus.

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>The Sad Tale of Charlie Janerette

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One of the reasons that I enjoy collecting cards autographed AFL trading cards is that in doing so, I am forced to do research on players whose careers and lives I may have otherwise overlooked.  Such is the case of the transient lineman, Charlie Janerette, whose autographed 1966 Topps card I recently added to my collections.  Charlie Janerette was drafted out of Penn State University in the fifth round of the 1960 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams.  Janerette made an immediate impact, and saw playing time in 12 games during his rookie season.  Janerette was lost to the Rams when he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1961 NFl expansion draft, but his time in Minnesota was short.  The Vikings traded Janerette to the New York Giants for tackle Ed Mazurek in February, 1961. The big tackle enjoyed success with the Giants.  He played in 26 games for the Giants.  He also saw time in the 1961 & 1962 NFL championship games, though the Giants lost both games to Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.  Janerette joined “The Other League” in 1963, when he was signed as a free agent by the New York Jets.  After one season with the Jets, Janerette was part of a large trade that took place on New Year’s Day 1964.  The Jets sent Dick Guesman, Ed Cooke, Sid Fournet, Jim Price and Janerette to Denver for Gene Prebola, Wahoo McDaniel, Gordy Holtz and Bob Zeman. Charlie Janerette played two seasons for the Broncos, before being released after the 1965 season.  He found his way back to his native Philadelphia, but he did not gradually ease into post-football life.  On October 26, 1984, Janerette was involved in a struggle with police that ended in him losing his life.  The following Associated Press article was printed on October 27, 1984. Charles Janerette, a former National Football League player, was fatally shot today by the police, who accused him of trying to steal a squad car. The police said Janerette, 45, had suffered from a mental illness for 12 years. Janerette was an offensive lineman who played for four professional teams, including the Giants and the Jets, in a six-year career that ended in 1965. The police said Janerette was shot at 2:30 A.M. in Center City.  He died 15 hours later at Hahnemann University Hospital.

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>My Memories of Al Davis

>Frank Buncom