Monthly Archives: April 2012
Billy Neighbors, an offensive lineman from the University of Alabama who starred in the AFL, passed away this afternoon due to complications from a heart attack that he suffered last Wednesday. Neighbors was an offensive guard who played with the Boston Patriots (1962-1965) and Miami Dolphins (1966-1969). He was an AFL All-Star in 1963, and was named to the Patriots All-1960s Team.
Tom Louderback was a linebacker, center and guard out of San Jose State. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 10th round of the 1955 NFL Draft, and played two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before signing with the Oakland Raiders in 1960. He played two full seasons in Oakland, and then spent the beginning of the 1962 season with the Buffalo Bills. He described his pro football career to me recently in the following email.
Prior to the AFL and NFL coming to an agreement on a merger in 1966, the two leagues held independent drafts for players coming out of college. That meant that a given player would often be drafted by one team from the NFL and another team from the AFL. This gave certain players something of a bargaining chip, as the more highly desired players could play the two teams off each other during contract negotiations. This in turn caused the salaries of incoming rookies to escalate, and more than anything else, forced the two leagues to meet and hash out a merger agreement.
I had a thought-provoking inquiry recently by Tex Noel, the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association. Tex was working on a massive project in which he had compiled a list of all First Round Draft Choices, from every professional football league that held a draft (AFL, NFL, AAFC, WFL, USFL, XFL and CFL – the latter only when a player from the United States was drafted). Tex was inquiring about Billy Cannon, the highly touted Houston Oilers draft choice from 1960. His question was how Cannon should be categorized, as a first round draft choice, or as a territorial draft choice.
There is a feeling amongst fans of the American Football League that players from the AFL get overlooked by the voting committees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Everyone has their own favorite player that they feel has been shorted in the voting process. Typically fans argue the hardest for a player from their home team. But when the hall of fame becomes a topic of conversation amongst the more unbiased of AFL fans, one name is generally agreed upon by all as the one man most deserving. That player is Johnny Robinson of the Dallas Texans & Kansas City Chiefs.