Monthly Archives: September 2012
Rod Sherman joined the Oakland Raiders as a rookie in 1967, went to the Cincinnati Bengals int eh AFL expansion draft, and then was traded back to the Raiders in 1969. As such, he was a part of several interesting parts of AFL history. Sherman recently caught up with Tales from the American Football League, and spoke about his life in the AFL.
AFL – Talk about the process you went through getting into the American Football League.
In my years of studying the AFL, I have learned that if I am speaking with a former Oakland Raider, that it behooves me to mention Dan Birdwell. Birdwell, a Raiders defensive lineman, was a classic AFL character, and a legend among former players. Dan Birdwell stories still run rampant through the AFL brotherhood, more than 30 years after his early death. This Birdwell classic, as told by former Raiders and Bengals receiver, Rod Sherman, is the first is what will be the occasional, but entertaining theme of “My Favorite Dan Birdwell Story.”
A little more than a month ago, I wrote a post titled, “Where is he now? The New York Jets’ Jim Harris.” I wrote a bit about Harris’s career with the Jets, and also how I had hoped to interview him for this blog. As well, Jim Harris was the last living member of the 1967 Topps football card set that I hoped to sign a card for me, and I had not been able to locate him.
A couple of weeks ago I posted a story about my favorite Hank Stram image. I like that image because of the sense of joy and achievement that it portrays. I recently found and purchased another Stram wire photo that I also like very much, but for much different reasons. Mack Lee Hill was a promising, young fullback for the Chiefs in 1964 & 1965 before his career was cut short by his unexpected death following knee surgery. This new image shows the depth to which Stram cared for his players, and a vulnerability that is not often associated with professional football.
While the 1960 Oakland Raiders were not successful on the field, the team did not lack for colorful players. Defensive lineman, Charlie Powell, never went to college, but was able to sandwich a successful professional football career in with playing minor league baseball and becoming the fourth-ranked heavyweight boxer in the world. Guard Don Manoukian made a name for himself in college by riding his motorcycle into the Stanford library while wearing just a jock strap. Then there was a speedy halfback/fullback named Jim “Jetstream” Smith.