All-Time Best AFL Units


autographed 1967 topps larry eisenhauer

#009 – Larry Eisenhauer

Ok, this should be fun.  As many of you know already, our guest blogger, Dave Steidel, wrote one of the all-time great AFL books, Remember the AFL.  The book takes a look at each team on a year-by-year basis, is chock FULL of photos, and has nearly every bit of info that you may hope to find on “The Other League.”  One of my favorite sections in Remember the AFL is a series of lists and quizzes that Steidel put together.  They cover everything from best & worst uniforms, best & worst coaches, and all kinds of wonderfully-debatable stuff.  Dave has been kind enough to forward those lists to me, and allow them to be run on Tales from the American Football League.

Here are Dave Steidel’s thoughts on the AFL’s best team units.  These are a lot of fun, and ought to spark some healthy discussion.

Just in case you all need a kick-start…  Hey Bills fans!  What do you think about the Patriots beating out Day, Dunaway, Sestak and McDole as the AFL’s all-time best front four?!?!?!

autographed 1967 topps jim hunt

#010 – Jim Hunt


1. Patriots: Larry Eisenhauer, Jim Hunt, Houston Antwine, Bob Dee

2. Bills: Tom Day, Jim Dunaway, Tom Sestak, Ron McDole

3. Chargers: Earl Faison, Bill Hudson, Ernie Ladd, Ron Nery




autographed 1967 topps houston antwine

#007 – Houston Antwine


1. Chiefs: Jim Lynch, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell

2. Chiefs: E.J. Holub, Sherrill Headrick, Smokey Stover

3. Bills: John Tracey, Harry Jacobs, Mike Stratton




autographed 1967 topps bob dee

#014 – Bob Dee


1. Oilers: Jim Norton, W.K. Hicks, Miller Farr, Ken Houston

2. Raiders: Willie Brown, Kent McCloughan, Roger Bird, Dave Grayson

3. Chargers: Charlie McNeil, Bob Zeman, George Blair, Dick Harris




1.  Raiders: Willie Brown & Kent McCloughan

2.  Dolphins: Dick Westmoreland & Jim Warren

3.  Oilers: Miller Farr & W.K. Hicks



1.  Chiefs: Bobby Hunt & Johnny Robinson

2.  Broncos: Goose Gonsoulin & Bob Zeman

3.  Jets: Jim Hudson & Bill Baird



1.  Chiefs: Jim Tyrer, Mo Moorman, E.J. Holub, Ed Budde,  Dave Hill

2.  Chargers: Ernie Wright, Gary Kirner, Sam Grunniesen, Walt Sweeney, Ron Mix


3.   Jets: Winston Hill, Randy Rasmussen, John Schmitt, Bob Talamini, Dave Herman

3.   Raiders: Bob Svihus, Gene Upshaw, Jim Otto, Wayne, Hawkins, Harry Schuh



1.  Oilers: Bobby Jancik & Freddie Glick

2.  Broncos: Goldie Sellers & NemiahWilson

3.  Chargers: Speedy Duncan & Kenny Graham



1.  Jets:  John Schmitt, Babe Parilli, Jim Turner

2.  Chiefs:  E.J. Holub, Len Dawson & Jan Stenerud

3.  Patriots: Jon Morris, Babe Parilli & Gino Cappelletti

4.  Raiders: Jim Otto, Daryle Lamonica & George Blanda

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.

8 Responses to All-Time Best AFL Units

  1. TK says:

    For Cornerback Combo Buffalo’s great tandem of Butch Byrd & Booker Edgerson were not listed……

  2. TK says:

    Mays, Buchanon , Culp & Brown ??….. Davidson, Keating, Birdwell & Lassiter ???….

  3. billd says:

    For snapper, Gilliam played for the Chiefs. I think Morris is intended there. Of the six corners listed, three are ex-Chargers that Gillman gave up on (Westmoreland, Warren and Farr)

  4. 1967 says:

    Lots of tough calls…. Patriots DL vs Bills same but one example – toss a coin; I’d call it a tie or give a slight edge to BUFF, but’s that’s debatable. No losers – only winners regardless of favorites.

    CB is another tough one: Brown & McCloughan were the best when healthy; alas, McCloughan & Brown were only a tandem for ’67/part of ’68, the latter n injured and replaced; he also was not the starter again in ’69. KC had a HO’r in Emmitt Thomas and a great rookie in Jim Marsalis, but they too only played together one AFL season.

    My question would be for anyone: who was the best coach? Not the winningest, Stram – he may have been best too. But team talent aside, who got the most out of his players, with the least talent considered?

    As far as KC’s kick snapper is concerned, ‘who’ is dependent on what season(s) one refers. Several guys did so & played center/and/or could. EJ Holub and Jon Gilliam, both who came along in ’61. So too others: ’66, aft center Gilliam was injured, Wayne Frazier came over from BUF & started most of the season there (Frazier was in fact doing the kick snapping in Superbowl 1). Later, LB Bobby Bell was (among everything else he did/could do) the snapper ; Hank Stram called the best in all of pro football.

  5. 1967 says:

    Typos: McCloughan injured, not Brown (should have read the ‘former’)

    I’d also give Duncan & Graham the kick return tandem top spot, only because Noland ‘Supergnat’ Smith wasn’t big enough to be both ends of a tandem, let alone one : ) He was a meteor & short lived but he was spectacular until he got clothes-lined to death by the opposition.

  6. Tom says:

    Willie Brown, Nehemiah Wilson, George Atkinson and Dave Grayson
    Miller Farr, Speedy Duncan, Kenny Graham and Bud Whitehead
    Safety combo
    Dainard Paulson and Bill Baird

    Corner combo
    Johnny Sample and Randy Beverly

    Kick and punt return tandem
    Keith Lincoln and Lance Alworth

  7. NCPPP says:

    Best of all was the Jets front 4 of 1968-69: Verlon Biggs, John Elliott, Gerry Philbin, and Paul Rochester. They were the true heroes (esp. Philbin) of the Jets squashing of the Colts and they got almost got the team to the AFL championship game the next year, despite the offense taking a huge step back.

    • billd says:

      The Jet front four and their whole defense was very underrated in the late 1960’s. Tom Matte is very complimentary to this day of the role the Jet defense played in in SB III.

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