Paul Lowe – the Chargers Best Offensive Back for 1960

Autographed 1960 Fleer Paul Lowe

#076 – Paul Lowe

After a failed attempt to make the final cut with the San Francisco 49ers out of college, Paul Lowe came to the Los Angeles Chargers after he was discovered working in the mail room of the Carte Blanche Credit Card Company, owned by Chargers owner, Barron Hilton.  Lowe recalled joining with the Chargers in a 2003 interview.

Mr. Frank Leahy was the general manager at that time and they were forming a football league.  So they found out that I was in the mailroom at the time.  That is where my job was.  They got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to play professional football.  They were starting a league in L.A.  I told them, “Sure.”  So that’s how I really got started with the L.A. Chargers.  And then shortly after that Frank Leahy resigned and then Sid took over the organization.  And Sid remembered me from when I played for the 49ers because I made a couple of kick off returns and punt returns against the Rams, which had impressed him.  So they asked if I wanted to play and I said, “Yeah.”  I was invited to camp and all that, and that’s how I got started with the Chargers.

Lowe a former football star and hurdler at Oregon State University, signed a contract with the Chargers, and began a career that saw him become one of just 20 men to play in all 10 AFL seasons.

Lowe gained an immediate name for himself when he ran the opening kickoff, in the Chargers first-ever pre-season game, 105 yards for a touchdown.

Along with quarterback Jack Kemp, another 49ers cast off, Lowe represented the main offensive threat in the Chargers backfield in 1960.  Paul Lowe averaged nearly 10 rushes per game in ’60, and totaled 855 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.  His 6.3 yards-per-carry average was tops in the AFL.  He also hauled in 23 receptions for 377 yards and two touchdowns.  For his efforts, Paul Lowe was selected as the Chargers “Best Offensive Back” for 1960.

The following year, in 1961, the Chargers moved south to San Diego.  They drafted fullback Keith Lincoln out of Washington State University, and when teamed with Lowe, the pair made one of the AFL’s all-time great backfield tandems.

paul lowe's 1960 best offensive back award

Paul Lowe’s 1960 Chargers Best Offensive Back Award

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.

21 Responses to Paul Lowe – the Chargers Best Offensive Back for 1960

  1. Tom Freeman says:

    Believe Paul went to Oregon State

  2. rick smith says:

    ‘Bias: “Luther” played a Oregon State and in the ’57 Rose Bowl. They got beat by Iowa. Joe Madro called Lowe “Luther”, a nickname he’ll still answer to, because he reminded Madro of Luther (Hit and Run) Carr of U. Washington. He threw a touchdown pass on the last play of the game as Compton Centennial high, a first-year school, beat Glendale Hoover in the 1954 Southern California finals. Lowe also wqon low hurdles in :18.9 at 1955 state high school track meet. I think he was married or close to married in high school, has a son close to 60 years old.

    • Tom says:

      Paul played for legendary High School football coach and former Compton Mayor Aaron Wade his track coach was also of note Walter Gill. The 1955 Centennial track team included Charlie Dumas the first to hj 7’and Olympic Gold Medal winner. Interesting that you mention Glendale Hoover both schools about seven years apart produced sprinters that held the National 100 yard dash record. Preston Griffith at Centennial amid Homer Beatty from Hoover the time was 9.4. Beatty would later star in football at Cal and was a top kick return man.

      • Tom says:

        Correction it was Forrest Beatty Homer is also of note as his Cal State LA teams of the 60’s were dominant…winners of several Camelia Bowls.

        • Tom says:

          To me Paul Lowe for a few seasons was as good a back as ever played a sensational runner to watch. Paul played for Tommy Prothro at Oregon State, Protho’s father Doc was one of the more prominent baseball figures he played for the Red Sox, Senators and Reds and Managed the Phillies for three seasons before retiring as Manager of the Memphis Chicks in the Southern Association.
          Todd I’m having a tough day for names two more corrections from a previous post… William Gill was the track coach and Preston Griffin set the 100 Yard dash record. The record was later revised and recorded as wind aided, Griffin’s 20.3 National record in the 220 stood for many years.

          • Todd Tobias says:

            Not to worry, Tom. I appreciate your insighful and history-rich comments. If you forget a name here or there, it is not a problem at all!

    • Tom says:

      Compton Centennial had a succession of great backs Larry Todd 1960 ASU, Oakland Raiders and Mickey Cureton 1966 UCLA. Not many like Mickey, touted for the Heisman after his Soph year then broke his neck in a blocking drill in practice and diagnosed with a congenital defect that could lead to paralysis and he never played another down of football.

  3. Jack McCabe says:

    Hey Todd, Matt’s Pa. Paul is still with us, living a quiet retirement from the California Correctional System in Southeast San Diego, and feeling more acutely the old breaks and bruises from his years carrying the ball. He is still hopeful the NFL will actually recognize the old timers with $$ vs words and boost the miniscule retirement pay above the current pocket change level. Two years ago the mysterious feud with the late Bob Breitbard was overcome when Paul was selected to the Hall of Champions. Paul’s son, Paul Jr. died suddenly several years ago–Lance Alworth and many others attended the services. Take care.

    • Todd Tobias says:

      Hi Jack. Yes, I have visited with Paul several times, though admittedly, not in the last year or so. I always enjoy speaking with him. I worked for Bob Breitbard for about 9 years, and was in the middle of many of those Hall of Fame meetings. All I can say is that I am glad that Paul was finally inducted. It was well overdue. I see Lance somewhat regularly, and try to keep connected with many of the AFL guys. They are a great bunch. I hope you are well!

  4. Tom Freeman says:

    I would LA State’s participation in the camelia Bowl

  5. Tom Freeman says:

    Sorry…check LA State in Camelia Bowl.

    • Tom says:

      Homer Beattys LA State Diablos won the 1965 Camelia Bowl beating Cactus Jack Curtis’s Santa Barbara Gouchos 18-10. Hard to imagine that the now Cal State University LA Golden Eagles played football, let alone produced dominant football players, two of which at the time were as dominant as any in the country and both played DL. The fisrt was Walter Johnson All Pro several times and 13 year veteran with the Browns and 6’6″ 285 Lb Don Davis a physical specimen of the likes that not many had seen before or since. Don was the Chargers first pick, 7th overall in the 1966 AFL Draft and the 25th overall pick in the NFL Draft, selected and signed by the NY Giants. My JC football coach Jim ‘Red” Williams coached the McKeever Twins at LA Mt Carmel HS and Don and Walter at LA State as a Beatty assistant when asked “What happened to Don? How is Walter made it and Don lasted only one season in the pros? said this “Don was the most physically gifted specimen I’ve ever seen and finest football player I ever coached or ever will, but they didn’t call Don “Hell On Wheels” for nothing.

      • Tom Freeman says:

        Homer had great success at both Bakersfied College and Santa Ana College, winning National Championships at both schools.

        • Tom says:

          Thanks Tom I vaguely remember that about Homer but had long forgotten and learned only today that Don Davis was born and raised in Santa Ana, I suppose that was the link. Do you know if Homer coached Duane Allen at Santa Ana? Duane was one of several to go from JC ball to the NFL. You probably know Tay Browns Compton College teams also sent a few guys directly to the NFL. Do you know why Tay was never offered the USC Head coaching job?

  6. Tom Freeman says:

    Believe Homer did coach Duane Allen. The same question was asked of Homer, as he was an alum of USC.

    • Tom says:

      Read Homer Beattys LATimes obit and learned he was Frank Gifford’s high school football coach at Bakersfield High.

    • Tom says:

      Wikipedia and Pro Football Reference have Duane Allen at Mt Sac although for many years I read he went to Santa Ana and he’s inducted in the Santa Ana College athletic HOF? Duane Allen’s pro football stats are a great anomaly in 3 season with the Rams he caught only 7 passes 5 for touchdowns and nearly 30 yards per reception.

      • Tom Freeman says:

        Mt SAC ( san antonio college) and SAC (santa ana college) often confused. Duane Allen indeed attended Santa Ana.

        • Tom says:

          Confused Mounties with Dons, Allen played at Santa Ana College in 1960 for Homer and made JC Grid Wire All America. It mentions he played only one year. He was from Alhambra, was 1st Team All CIF in 1955 at end with San Diego Hi and MLBB Deron Johnson.
          Lowes High School coach Aaron Wade became the first African American to ref an AFL game it must have been in 1960 when the Chargers were in LA. I think the only Mountie to make the NFL from the 1960’s was Dennis Shaw.

  7. Tom says:

    You may have seen the LA Times article dated Aug 1 1990 writer Bob Wolf REMEMBER WHEN: Many of the Highs and Lowe’s With the Original Chargers.

    It mentions the first preseason game and Lowe returning the opening kick off 105 yards and how that play resulted in Gilmans decision to cut Ron Waller and the matter of fact discussion Lowe had with Esther Gilman prior to the Broncos game. Also the broken arm that cost him the entire 1962 season and I add if not for the loss of that season he may very well be in Canton. The Chargers were 4 and 10 that year.

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