Fan Interference! 1961 Patriots vs. Texans

In what has become known as one of the most comical plays in AFL history, a fan snuck out of the crowd and batted down a potential game-winning pass in a 1961 game between the Boston Patriots and Dallas Texans.  Perhaps the greatest thing about this play was that it was captured perfectly on film, preserved for generations of football fans.  Chris Burford and Chuck Shonta, the receiver and defender in this play, are both subscribers to Tales from the American Football League.  Perhaps they will weigh in on this bit of AFL history…

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.

5 Responses to Fan Interference! 1961 Patriots vs. Texans

  1. Dave Steidel says:

    When doing research for my book “Remember the AFL” is spoke with two of the principal players on this famous play, namely flanker Chris Burford of the Texan and defensive back Chuck Shonta of the Patriots. Both players laughingly remembered this play fondly with Shonta saying “tell Burford I didn’t need that fan to help out on that play, I had him covered like a rug!” In relaying the message to Burford he laughed out loud and responded “well if he did it would have been the first time all day because I caught nine passes including a touchdown on him.” lol

  2. douglas says:

    The amazing thing about the footage is how the fan straddles nest to the ref and he doesn’t notice…Then with the ref looking directly at the play the ref did not realize the fan was in on it. Ironically that refs next game was GB verse Seattle 9/24/12.

  3. Tom says:

    Interesting watching Rommie Loudd and Jim “Earthquake” Hunt on the play, they double team Abner Haynes who swings left out of the backfield which leaves and opening for both Burford and the 12th man. Rommie played at LA Jefferson HS and in 1951 he and Santa Monica HS RC Alley Oop Owens were considered two of the best ends, with Jim Mora, Karl Rubke, Leon Clark, Jim Hanifan, Don Shinnick, Darryl Rogers. Later Rommie would become the first black Assitant AFL coach and team executive. RC Owens was not the best end on his Santa Monica HS team AD Williams was. Those who saw AD were witness to as good an athlete and offensive threat as any who ever played and never acheived athletic immortality. The two studs in those days that did in LA City were Manual Arts Jon Arnett and in the country CIF Pomona HS Marty Keough, some old timers still believe the two best ever.

  4. Tom says:

    Interesting Texans roster Cotton Davidson was Baltimore 1st pick in 1954 5th player chosen overall and was given his favorite jersey number the number he wore in high school and college # 19. In 1955 Texans TE Max Boydson was drafted in the first round 2nd player chosen overall by the Chi Cards. 100 players later Johnny Unitas was chosen in the 9th round by Pittsburgh 102 overall. When one thinks of Baltimore # 19 few if any remember Cotton and even less remember Max Boydson was drafted number 2 in 1955 100 players before the other Baltimore QB # 19 Johnny U.

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks for this post Todd, I read about this play in the NY Times so your blog was the first place I checked. I never imagined there was video of it.

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