A Few Notes on Earl Faison

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Chargers’ great, Earl Faison, passed away on June 12.  Regretfully, my website was down and I wasn’t able to post about it.

Earl was the first AFL personality that I met, way back in 1997.  I was a new employee at The San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, and he had been inducted into our hall of fame in February 1996, so we saw a lot of each other at museum events.  When I decided to write my master’s thesis on Sid Gillman, Earl was the first interview that I scheduled.

We were close during some important years in each other’s lives.  I went through graduate school, got married, had a child, battled cancer, had another child, and wrote a book.  Earl retired from a long and distinguished career with San Diego City Schools, moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, and sadly went through a divorce.  We saw less of each other after Earl moved; most of our meetings then came about from Chargers alumni functions when Earl came back into town.  The last time we saw each other in-person was when we sat together at the Celebration of Life for Raiders’ legend, Ben Davidson, in the Summer of 2012.earl faison

Earl Faison was an impressive figure, even into his 70s.  He never seemed to stoop with age, maintaining his 6’5″ height up to the end.  He had deeply dark skin, and always dressed impeccably.  Yet as formidably as he appeared, he was quick with a joke and smile.  I recall one of our early visits, back when Earl was the vice principal at University City High School.  He called me one day and asked if I would meet him at school, as he had something to show me.  I arrived in the early afternoon, and we chatted as we walked, ending up in a room in which about 150 people were eating.  “This is my friend, Todd Tobias,” Earl said to the crowd.  He is from the Hall of Champions Sports Museum, and is here to talk to you all about the value of athletics.”  Then he turned to me and said, “Todd, this is our varsity football team and their parents.  They are having a pregame meal, and are looking forward to your words of wisdom.”  With a wink and a laugh, he backed away and left me to give an impromptu pep talk to the room of football players and fans.  I’m sure I stammered a bit, caught completely off guard, but I got through it and we joked about the incident many times in the following years.

Earl himself was a great storyteller.  I enjoyed listening to his memories of growing up in Virginia, his time with the Chargers, and the race-based challenges that he overcame along the way.  He was an important man as a football player, a civil rights activist, a coach, an educator, and a friend.  I will miss him.

The San Diego Chargers and San Diego Union-Tribune posted stories about the passing of Earl Faison.



Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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4 Responses to A Few Notes on Earl Faison

  1. Eddie Arminio says:

    Earl and Ernie Ladd, just as good as Carl Eller and Alan Page.

    • afl says:

      Agreed… the over-hyped Page had his football ‘backside’ handed to him by the Chiefs Ed Budde in Superbowl IV, just as his teammate Jim Tyrer did same to another the over-hyped Vikings, Jim Marshall. About the only hit that Page made all day on the Chiefs? A late one, cheap-shotting Len Dawson. Both NFL guys were dominated – and suckered out of their cleats by Hank Stram’s famous 65 Toss Power Trap play good for a td…so much for the purple people eaters turned ‘black & blue’ by the massive Chiefs o-line.

      Back to the Chargers Earl Faison, would venture to say that the late Chief Tyrer as well a still ‘pulling’ Budde would say – individually as well collectively – had an harder time trying slow Faison & teammate Ernie Ladd than they did an still/forever more Championship-LESS Vikings duo just referenced.

      Despite the Faison/Ladd Chargers and Tyrer/Budde Chiefs having won Championships, I don’t believe Page/Marshall or any the other Vikings won even a single one. The AFL born Dolphins/Raiders same similarly took care of Page/Marshall et al… go figure.

      As a less-hyped ‘Tree’ named Earl Faison grew and prospered in San Diego, so too did a less hyped younger league – the AFL – that brought the NFL/its players to their knees.

      : )

  2. afl says:

    And of course, the Chiefs Dave Hill ‘cutting’ the other over-hyped Viking Eller down to size again and again on end-around plays courtesy Frank Pitts.

  3. Matt Haddad a.k.a. overdrive1975 says:

    Earl Faison was one of my favorite AFL players. I wanted to meet him, and I’m very sorry to hear of his passing.

    I remember seeing that picture of the Bills’ Pete Gogolak kicking the last-second Thanksgiving Day field goal (1964), enabling the Bills to beat the Chargers in San Diego, 27-24. #86 of the Chargers loomed over the other players, with his hand high in the air, just barely missing the ball. I asked Todd who #86 was, and he said: “That’s Earl Faison.” Faison almost BLOCKED THAT KICK ! ! !

    I have great memories of watching Earl Faison in The Six Million Dollar Man episode, “One of Our Running Backs is Missing” (Season 3, November 1975). The Six Million Dollar Man and Larry Czonka played a football game against a team that consisted of Faison, Dick Butkus, Tom Mack, Carl Weathers (before he became Apollo Creed), Mike Henry, and Les Josephson. FUN EPISODE ! ! ! ! !

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