Why is Dave Grayson not in the Hall of Fame?

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Last week we discussed how Texans and Chiefs defensive back, Johnny Robinson, has been overlooked for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Ironically, there is a second player from that early Texans secondary that also deserves serious hall of fame consideration for his accomplishments in the old AFL.  That man is Dave Grayson.

Dave Grayson grew up in San Diego’s Logan Heights district, and developed his athletic skills at a place the kids called “The 40 Acres.”  Among his playmates were Art & Charlie Powell, and Negro League and Pacific Coast League baseball star, Johnny Ritchey.  Grayson, attended San Diego’s Lincoln High School and then the University of Oregon before signing as a free agent with the Dallas Texans in 1961.  Grayson worked his way into the Texans starting lineup as a rookie.  He hauled in three interceptions in ’61, one of which he returned for an AFL-record 99 yards and a touchdown.

In 1963, the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.  Dave Grayson remained a starter in the secondary through the 1964 season when Al Davis brought Grayson to the Oakland Raiders in a trade for cornerback Fred “The Hammer” Williamson.  Grayson was an integral part of a tough Raiders defensive unit through the end of his career in 1970.

When the AFL came to a close at the end of the 1969 season, Dave Grayson was selected as one of two cornerbacks on the American Football League’s All-Time First Team.  Among the many career highlights that made him deserving of such recognition were:

  • Intercepting quarterback, George Blanda, in the Texans double-overtime victory in the 1962 AFL Championship Game.
  • A six-time AFL All-Star, with the Texans/Chiefs in 1962, 1963 & 1964, and the Raiders in 1965, 1966 & 1969.
  • Leading the AFL with 10 interceptions in 1968.
  • Leading the AFL with 47 career interceptions, for a nearly 2o-yard return average and five touchdowns.
  • Averaging 25.4 yards on 110 kickoff returns from 1961-1967.

It is unfortunate when a player does not receive the recognition that he deserves.  That two of the greatest defensive backs in AFL history, who both played in the same defensive secondary, have been passed over for hall of fame consideration defies explanation.


Todd Tobias (789 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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6 Responses to Why is Dave Grayson not in the Hall of Fame?

  1. Mark Palczewski says:

    I thought Dave Grayson was a great DB. I actually think of him more as a Raider. I think George Saimes from Buffalo even gets more over-looked than Grayson.

  2. chris burford says:

    Todd, David was truly a great and exceptional player. I can attest to that having to practice against him in daily practice (made me a better player) for those years with the Texans/Chiefs. a really good kick returner also. Also, played against him also while he was at Oregon and of course the Raiders. Can’t imagine why any of the guys (like Dave), that made the AFL All-Time team would not be in the NFL Hall of Fame. Either that, or give the AFL its own wing as we were the better league by the time the merger was completed (winning the last two super bowls, of the 4 played between the AFL/NFL).

  3. Todd Tobias says:

    Thanks, Mark & Chris. Good points by the both of you.

    As to the point about members of the AFL All-Time Team not neing in the Hall of Fame, here is how it breaks down:

    Lance Alworth – HoF
    Don Maynard – HoF
    Fred Arbanas
    Ron Mix – HoF
    Jim Tyrer
    Billy Shaw – HoF
    Ed Budde
    Jim Otto – HoF
    Joe Namath – HoF
    Paul Lowe
    Clem Daniels
    George Blanda – HoF

    Jerry Mays
    Gerry Philbin
    Tom Sestak
    Houston Antwine
    Bobby Bell – HoF
    George Webster
    Nick Buoniconti – HoF
    Dave Grayson
    Willie Brown – HoF
    Johnny Robinson
    George Saimes
    Jerrel Wilson

  4. Tom says:


    I noticed with Grayson two other San Diego HS players from the 1955 team that won CIF SS beating Duane Allen and the Alhambra Moors, went to Oregon Willie West and Alden Kimbrough. Len Casanova was Oregons head coach and I wondered if Grayson had ever mentioned the recruitment of the three. The San Diego HS coach was Duane Maley who played at USC “41”. The great sprinter from San Diego in the 1050’s who nearly broke the world record in the 100 in High School Roscoe Cook also attended Oregon.

  5. Bill Silvers says:

    I only just stumbled onto this site today, but it’s a wonderful resource. I’ll be coming back often. Dave Grayson was a terrific player and it is an injustice that he’s not in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best players on what were arguably the two best franchises in AFL history. But the reason why I’m posting is to see if time has allowed for a little more clarity on a question that was never fully explained when I was a kid in the stands at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City for Chiefs games. Why was Mr. Grayson traded for Fred Williamson, straight up, when it was obvious that he was the superior player? I remember rumors about it back in the day (which I won’t touch on), but never heard a definite answer. I’d appreciate hearing the true story now, 50 years after the fact. Surely the statute of limitations has expired on this mystery.

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