Monthly Archives: February 2013
I recently picked up this photo of Chargers defensive lineman, Ernie Ladd. Ladd has always been kind of a mythical AFL figure, with his size, boisterous personality and wrestling career all adding to the total package. I liked this particular image because although it is undated, it must have been taken early in Ladd’s time with the Chargers. Rather than wearing the #77 that he did in San Diego, Ladd is shown in a #71 jersey, which I took to mean that he was using it either strictly for a photo opportunity, or it was his practice jersey. As a means of cutting costs, AFL teams often practiced in their game uniforms from the season before. In this instance, Ladd’s #71 is a 1960 Los Angeles Chargers jersey, probably worn during games by defensive lineman, Dick Chorovich.
I felt like writing something about the Patriots’ Gino Cappelletti, whom I feel is one of the most underrated stars of the AFL. Cappelletti was a great receiver and kicker, played all 10 years of the AFL, and ended up as the league’s all-time leading scorer. Still he gets little recognition for his accomplishments.
Based on that I went to the S.I. Vault, and looked for the first article that I could find that included Cappelletti’s name. Oddly, it was a preview of the 1964 AFL Championship game. Cappelletti was included as the Patriots and Bills were still to play what was essentially a divisional championship game, and S.I. then evaluated all three teams chances in the championship game. Author Edwin Shrake was very complimentary of Cappelletti. After stating in the paragraph before that Babe Parilli was the best quarterback in the AFL (really?) he had the following to say about Cappelletti, “He is small and slow. But Cappelletti lulls defenses into a doze and then pops up so far open that it looks as if he had sneaked out of the bleachers… In one recent game Cappelletti ran a succession of square-outs, then ran another square-out, took two more steps, whirled and went deep and was open by 20 yards for a touchdown.”
Another in a long list of rare and obscure collectible AFL issues is the 1969 Chemtoy Superballs. Available checklists show a 26-piece complete set which features the top AFL players of the day. The following write-up can be found in the 2010-11 Beckett Football Card Price Guide:
These little high-bouncing 1″ balls were produced by Chemtoy and featured AFL players. The player’s picture is on the front with their name and team affiliation on the back of the paper piece inside the ball. Since these are not numbered, we have sequenced them in alphabetical order.
There is a feeling among AFL fans that the American Football League players are consistently overlooked for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In truth there are many players, the bulk of whose careers were spent in the AFL, that deserve serious consideration, if not outright induction. In an effort to spark some discussion regarding their hall of fame worthiness, I will occasionally compare AFL players to their NFL (and Hall of Fame) counterparts. The short biographies on the NFL players have been taken directly from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website.