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1967 AFL Most Valuable Player – Daryle Lamonica

1967 Topps Daryle LamonicaDaryle Lamonica began his career in professional football when the Buffalo Bills selected him out of the University of Notre Dame with their 24th-round pick in the 1963 AFL draft.  At 6’3″ and 215 lbs, Lamonica was a prototypical passer, who possessed keen maneuverability and a cannon for a right arm.  In fact, there was only one thing to keep Lamonica from achieving greatness in Buffalo.  Unfortunately for him, that thing was Jack Kemp.For the four seasons that he was there, the Buffalo Bills had the greatest quarterback tandem in the AFL with Daryle Lamonica and Jack Kemp.  And in fact, Lamonica played in 14 games-per-season in each of his four seasons in Buffalo, however he typically served in a back-up role.  But in 1967, Al Davis designed a trade that sent wideout Art Powell, quarterback Tom Flores and two draft choices to Buffalo.  In exchange, the Oakland Raiders acquired receiver Glenn Bass, one draft choice, and quarterback Daryle Lamonica.  Lamonica was the final piece that Davis needed, and his vertical offense was poised to take off.

Daryl “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica wasted no time putting the ball into the air, and leading the silver and black to victory.  In 1967, his first season in Oakland, Lamonica threw the ball 425 times, completing 220 of those passes for 3,228 yards and a league-leading 30 touchdowns.  The Raiders went 13-1 under Lamonica’s leadership, and ran away with the AFL Western Division title.  In the AFL championship game, Lamonica threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another as he led Oakland to a 40-7 victory over the Houston Oilers. read more

>Channel 10 News in San Diego

>Steve Smith of Channel 10 News came over to the house yesterday and we talked about the AFL, and this blog, Tales from the American Football League.  Barring any major breaking sports news, those of you in the San Diego area will be able to see the interview on the news tonight, Channel 10 at 6:00.  Take a look, and you will see my AFL “archives” and where I get the inspiration for my posts.  Enjoy! read more

>Race and the AFL – The Inclusion of the Black Athlete

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The American Football League was considered to be more immediately welcoming of talented black football players than the rival NFL.  Whether that is because a true sense of justice permeated the league, or there was an immediate need for quality ballplayers is open to debate, but black football players were found on each of the eight AFL rosters when the league opened it’s doors in 1960. Still, black players were in the minority in comparison to their white counterparts.  A common belief is that there were no black players on the bench.  If you were black, you were a starter. The Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers were considered one of the AFL’s front runners in recruiting black players, and scouting the traditionally black colleges and universities.  As a Jew, Chargers head coach, Sid Gillman, had faced his share of discrimination in his coaching career, mostly in the form of being overlooked for collegiate head coaching positions.  Gillman therefore had no such policies on his team, and began drafting black players, had his players room together by position on road trips (so as to ensure black and white players lived together), and supported his black players when they faced discrimination in other cities. Still, the infusion of black football players into the professional game was slow.  If you look at the Chargers 2011 media guide, 30 of the 49 returning players are black.  League-wide, the NFL is about 65% black.  However, the 1960 Los Angeles Chargers media guide shows just six black players out of 35 on the roster.  So how long did it take for the concentration of black players to grow? It would be difficult to find each player that set field for a given team over the years, so to keep a constant, we will continue to use players listed in the media guide as our sample.  Using these same media guides, here is how the number of black players changed over the years for the San Diego Chargers. 1960 – 6 black players, 35 men listed 1961 – 8 black players, 33 men listed 1962 – 9 black players, 33 men listed 1963 – 9 black players, 33 men listed 1964 – 10 black players, 37 men listed 1965 – 12 black players, 39 men listed 1966 – 13 black players 40 men listed 1967 – 13 black players, 34 men listed 1968 – 12 black players, 41 men listed 1969 – 17 black players, 51 men listed 1970 – 21 black players, 47 men listed 1980 – 32 black players, 54 men listed 1990 – 25 black players, 45 men listed 2000 – 47 black players, 59 men listed At least with the Chargers, though I imagine the same can be said for all teams, the inclusion of black players was steady throughout the 1960s & 1970s, and by 1980, black players constituted the majority of the team.  Sadly, many many men did not get the opportunity to showcase their talents because of the bigotry they faced.  There are many stories, books and movies available that tell similar stories, not only of the ugly racism, but of how they overcame the injustice to succeed in end.  I would suggest taking a look at one of these to get a more in-depth picture of these powerful stories.

>AFL In Memoriam – 2011

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As we say goodbye to 2011 and prepare to welcome in 2012, I want to take a moment to recall those American Football League players and representatives who passed away this year.  Sadly, the fraternity of AFL players that are still with us is dwindling.  These men are all legends of the sport for doing their part, no matter how small, in the battle for legitimacy with the National Football League.  I would like to thank Mike Thomas (www.nearmintcards.com) and Ange Coniglio (www.remembertheafl.com) for informing football fans of these passings as they occur during the year. Cookie Gilchrist – Died on January 10 – A legendary running back with the Bills, Broncos and Dolphins, Gilchrist was one of the most colorful of all AFL players.  Ralph Felton – Died on January 22 – Ralph Felton played two seasons at linebacker for the Buffalo Bills after spending seven seasons with the Washington Redskins of the NFL. Danny Brabham – Died on January 23 – A linebacker out of the University of Arkansas, Danny Brabham played five seasons with the Houston Oilers and was an original member of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968. Ken Carpenter – Died on January 28 – Ken Carpenter had originally retired from professional football in 1953, after playing four sseasons for the Cleveland Browns.  He came out of retirement to play in six games for the uppstart Denver Broncos in 1960. Tom Addison – Died on June 14 – An original member of the Boston Partiots, Tom Addison was the first president of the AFL Player’s Association.  He played for the Patriots from 1960-1967. Lee Riley – Died on June 9 – The older brother of famed basketball coach, Pat Riley, Lee played professionally from 1955-1962, spending his last two seasons with the New York Titans. Preston Carpenter – Died on June 30 – An offensive end/halfback in the NFL from 1956-1966, Carpenter played for the Miami Dolphins in 1967.

Pete Duranko – Died on July 8 – Duranko, a defensive lineman out of Notre Dame, was a second round draft choice of the Denver Broncos in 1966.  He played in Every Broncos game from 1967-1974. 

George Wilson – Died on August 6 – George Wilson was the Miami Dolphins first quarterback in 1966.  Wilson’s time in Miami was unique in that his father, George Wilson Sr., was the team’s head coach. Jimmy Harris – Died on August 8 – Harris sent two years in the NFL before joining the dallas Texans for the 1960 & 1961 seasons.  The defensive back had four interceptions in 25 AFL games.

Ray Abruzzese – Died on August 22 – Abruzzese totalled 10 interceptions in five seasons as a defensive back in the AFL.  An alumni of Alabama, Abruzzese was Joe Namath’s roommate in college and again when the cocky quarterback first joined the New York Jets. read more

>Happy Holidays!

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Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa and best wishes for whatever you are doing this holiday season.  I appreciate you all reading Tales from the American Football League.  Here is to us all having a happy and prosperous 2012!