1. John Matuszak – Tampa, Houston Oilers DE: A giant of a man at 6-8, 275 Matuszak was too good to pass up for the Houston Oilers. At Houston, Matuszak also tried to play for the Houston Texans of the World Football League but the Oilers obviously did not approve of him playing for two teams at the same time. The Oilers traded Matuszak to the Kansas City Chiefs where he played for 2 seasons. The Redskins picked him up in 1976, but then cut him. The Oakland Raiders picked him up and that’s when he became an NFL star. With the Raiders, he helped win 2 Super Bowls. After football, Matuszak got heavily into acting and had something of a successful career as a movie bad guy. Matuszak was a hard living man that partied hard and he died in 1989 at that age of 38.
2. Bert Jones – LSU, Baltimore Colts QB: The Ruston Rifle grew up in Ruston, Louisiana and obviously had a strong arm which earned him the nickname. His father, Dub Jones, played Running Back in the NFL. Bert Jones was 6-3, 210 and with his arm strength, the home state LSU Tigers were only too glad to sign him. Success wasn’t instant for Jones, and he played behind Buddy Lee as a sophomore. During his junior season, Jones split time with Paul Lyons at Quarterback with Jones only getting 2 starts.
As a senior, Jones pushed Lyons aside and earned the starting job. He became the first LSU consensus All American Quarterback. He threw for 1,536 yards as a senior on a running team with 14 Touchdown passes. Over his 3 year career, he threw for 3,390 yards and 28 Touchdowns.
The Colts drafted Jones thinking he would be the heir apparent to the legendary Johnny Unitas. They brough Jones along slowly and by his third season he was doing really well. Jones played 9 seasons in Baltimore and had 5 good years there. He made the Pro Bowl in 1976.
He played one more season in 1982 with the Los Angeles Rams, but a knee injury forced him into retirement. During his NFL career Jones threw for over 18,000 yards. After he retired from football, Jones returned to North Louisiana and opened up a business.
3. Jerry Sisemore – Texas, Philadelphia Eagles OT: Sisemore grew up in the Texas Panhandle at Plainview High School. He was a freshman and freshmen were not eligible in 1969 on the Texas national championship. In 1970, Sisemore moved into the starting lineup on a team that went 10-0 before losing to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. He was a consensus All American as a junior in 1971 and again as a senior in 1972.
Sisemore was a starter immediately with the Philadelphia Eagles and he started for the majority of his 12 year career with the Eagles. The 6-4, 265 Sisemore was a multiple Pro Bowler and helped the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Raiders.
4. John Hannah – Alabama, Boston Patriots OG: One of the game’s greats at Offensive Guard.
Hannah grew up in Albertville, Alabama and signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide along with his two brothers, Charley and David. Hannah was 6-2, 265 and a standout at Alabama and then again in the NFL. Hannah played 13 seasons with the NFL and was All Pro 10 times during those years. He is considered one of the all time greats in the Offensive Line. In 1991, Hannah was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John’s brothers Charley and David were All SEC at Alabama, Charley played for a number of years in the NFL, as well.
5. Dave Butz – Purdue, St Louis DT: Butz was a giant of a man at 6-7, 290 and was a standout at Purdue. Butz grew up in the state of Illinois and he was a basketball and Track and Field star and he was good at everything. Butz was an All Big 10 Defensive Tackle and with his size, the Cardinals decided to draft Butz with their 1st pick.
Butz played for the St Louis Cardinals for 2 seasons before being traded to the Washington Redskins. With the Redskins, Butz became something of a terror to Offensive Linemen. The most incredible thing about this giant was that he played in the NFL for 16 seasons and was rarely injured. He was part of 2 Super Bowl championship teams and he made the Pro Bowl.
He made the NFL All Decade team of the 1980s and he was named to the greatest Redskins team. After football, Butz moved back to Illinois.
6. Charle Young – USC, Philadelphia Eagles TE: It’s not a typo, his name is Charle. It’s not Charles. Charle Young grew up in Fresno, California and played high school football there. Like so many other great football players, Young was a good to great high school basketball player and led his team to a championship. He signed with USC and the 6-4, 235 Young was a 3 year starter at Tight End for the Trojans. He made consensus All American in 1972 when the Trojans had one of the better teams of all time. He caught 29 passes as a senior and 68 during his playing days at USC.
In the NFL, Young was an instant sensation catching 55 passes during his rookie season. He only
spent 4 seasons in Philly, but those were his best years in the NFL with 63 receptions as a second year guy and then 49. His production dropped off dramatically during his 4th season with only 30 receptions. From Philadelphia, he went to the Los Angeles Rams and then the San Francisco 49ers and finally with the Seattle Seahawks. In all, he spent 13 seasons in the NFL and he caught 418 passes for 5,106 yards and 27 Touchdowns. He was one of the better Tight Ends in NFL history.
A good person off the field, as well, volunteering his time to quite a few charities.
7. Paul Seymour – Michigan, Buffalo Bills TE: Paul Seymour is the younger brother of Notre Dame All American Jim Seymour. Younger brother was quite a big larger than older brother and played Tight End. From Berkley, Michigan Paul Seymour decided to sign with the Michigan Wolverines and Bo Schembechler. Seymour was predominately a blocker at Michigan and he only caught 19 passes in his first 2 seasons in Ann Arbor. But, he was 6-5, 255 and they moved him to Offensive Tackle as a senior and he made consensus All American. His size also made him attractive to NFL teams looking for a big Tight End.
The Bills selected Seymour with their 1st round pick and he played for them for 5 seasons catching 62 total passes. The Bills tried to trade Seymour to the Pittsburgh Steelers after 5 seasons but he failed the physical and then he was out of football.
8. Wally Chambers – Eastern Kentucky, Chicago Bears DT: Chambers played high school football outside of Detroit at Mt Clemons High School. He wound up at Eastern Kentucky and was discovered by the Chicago Bears. He was a good pickup for the Bears with his 6-6, 250 frame and he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1973. He was an All Pro 3 times and the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL in 1976. Chambers played 5 seasons for the Bears and then 2 more seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring from football.
9. Otis Armstrong – Purdue, Denver Broncos RB: Chicago native Armstrong signed with the
Purdue Boilermakers and was a star. As a first time starter during his sophomore season, Armstrong ran for just over 1,000 yards. His junior season was slightly under at 945 yards rushing. 1972 was Armstrong’s senior year and he ran for 1,312 yards and 17 Touchdowns.
Armstrong didn’t do much as a rookie, but he ran for 1,407 yards as a 2nd year man. That was his best season in the NFL and he only reached 1,000 yards one more time which was in 1976.
In 8 NFL seasons, Armstrong ran for 4,453 yards and 25 Touchdowns.
10. Joe Ehrmann – Syracuse, Baltimore Colts DT: Ehrmann grew up in Buffalo and signed with Syracuse. According to sources, Ehrmann played in 1969, was an All American in 1970, and then sat out in 1971. He came back and played another season in 1972. At 6-4, 255 Ehrmann was one of Syracuse’s most successful Defensive Linemen and he was named to their All Century team. Ehrmann played for the Colts for 8 seasons and made All Pro. Then, he played 2 seasons with the Detroit Lions and he finished up with 3 seasons in the United States Football League.
After football, Ehrmann became a minister and a motivational speaker.
11. Sam Cunningham – USC, Boston Patriots RB: A lot of myths surround Sam Bam Cunningham about a certain game in Birmingham, Alabama in 1970. Cunningham was just a sophomore that
season. Cunningham was a Fullback that stood 6-3 and weighed about 225 pounds. At Southern Cal, Cunningham ran for 1,579 yards over 3 seasons. In 1972, Cunningham was a large part of the Trojans winning the national championship.
Fullbacks were used more in the offenses back then and Cunningham played 10 seasons for the Patriots. He gained 5,453 yards and 43 Touchdowns. He also caught 210 passes for 1,905 yards and 6 more Touchdowns.
Sam Cunningham is the older brother of former NFL Quarterback Randall Cunningham.
12. Chuck Foreman – Miami, Minnesota Vikings RB: The Hurricanes of these years were a far cry from the program they became starting in 1983. In Foreman’s 3 seasons on the varsity the Hurricanes went 3-8, 4-7, and 5-6. Foreman didn’t put up awesome numbers in college running for only 196 as a sophomore. His best season was his junior season when he ran for 951 yards and 10 Touchdowns. His production dropped off his senior season of 1972 when he only ran for 484 yards and 3 Touchdowns. But, Foreman really excelled in the NFL. He was used as a ball carrier, but also very much as a receiver out of the backfield. He had 6 really good seasons and ran for over 1,000 yards 3 times and was a 5 time Pro Bowler. During 8 NFL seasons, Foreman ran for 5,950 yards and 53 Touchdowns. He also caught 350 passes for 3,156 yards and another 23 Touchdowns.
Chuck Foreman’s son, Jay Foreman, played Linebacker for Nebraska and then in the NFL.
13. Burgess Owens – Miami, New York Jets DB: Owens grew up in Tallahassee and attended Rickards High School. That school put out several NFL players other than Owens in William Gay, Corey Fuller, Kolby Smith and Kent Richardson. Owens spurned the home town team for the Miami
Hurricanes, but neither school was very good back then. Owens played 7 seasons with the New York Jets and then 3 more seasons with the Raiders of Oakland and Los Angeles. Owens picked off 30 passes in the NFL.
14. Georgie Amundson – Iowa State, Houston Oilers RB: A tremendous athlete and good sized at 6-3, 215 and was all everything in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He played football, basketball and threw the discus in track and field. Somehow, he was also able to get in playing time with the baseball team, too. He was all state in football at Quarterback and Linebacker.
Admundson played Quarterback as a sophomore at Iowa State. Not the most accurate of passers, he threw for 471 yards that season and ran for 440 yards. As a junior, he moved to Running Back and he ran for an Iowa State record of 1,316 yards and 15 Touchdowns.
For his senior season in 1972, Admundson moved back to Quarterback. He threw for 2,110 yards and 17 Touchdowns while running for 508 yards and 9 Touchdowns. He did throw for quite a few Touchdowns, but he also had 22 Interceptions.
The Houston Oilers took him as a Running Back. In the NFL, Admundson had limited success running for 194 yards with the Oilers in 2 seasons. His final season was with the Philadelphia Eagles but he did not carry the ball.
15. Isaac Curtis – San Diego State, Cincinnati Bengals WR: At Santa Anna High School in California Curtis was a star Running Back who signed with the California Golden Bears. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Curtis ran for 902 yards. Cal was in trouble with the NCAA and Isaac Curtis was allowed to transfer to San Diego State. The Aztecs had Don Coryell as their head coach who became famous later for his Air Coryell offenses in the NFL. With San Diego State, Curtis caught 44 passes for 832 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Curtis had found a home at Wide Receiver.
At Cal, Curtis was on the track team and he ran a 9.3 100 yard dash.
Curtis was an instant star in the NFL catching 45 passes for 9 Touchdowns. Cincinnati Quarterback Ken Anderson and Wide Receiver Isaac Curtis teamed up to form one of the most deadly combinations in the NFL in their day. Curtis caught 416 passes for 7,101 yards and 53 Touchdowns. Curtis is given credit for changing the NFL game with the 5 yard bump rules by Defensive Backs. Curtis was so fast that teams tried to take him out way down field and the new rules protected the Wide Receivers.
16. Steve Holden – Arizona State, Cleveland Browns WR: Holden signed with the Sun Devils from Los Angeles and started 3 seasons for them. These were the glory years for the Arizona State Sun Devils under head coach Frank Kush. Danny White of later Dallas Cowboys fame was their
Quarterback and the Devils finished 11-0 in 1970, then 11-1 in 1971. In 1972, they finished 10-2 and Holden was their leading receiver. Holden caught 14 passes in 1970 as a sophomore. Then, 21 passes for 461 yards and 9 Touchdowns in 1971. For his senior season, in 1972, Holden hauled in 38 passes for 848 yards and 12 Touchdowns.
In the NFL, Holden was something of a disappointment. He did have a couple of good seasons for the Cleveland Browns, but he only caught 62 passes over his 5 year career. He played 4 years in Cleveland and his last in Cincinnati.
17. Ernie Price – Texas A%I, Detroit Lions DE: Today this school is Texas A%M Kingsville, but back then it was Texas A%I and they were a national power and put a lot of talent in the NFL. Ernie Price played high school football at Corpus Christi Miller before signing with A%I. Price was 6-4, 250 and played Defensive End which made him a hot commodity with the NFL. Detroit picked Price and he played 7 seasons in the NFL. His last two seasons were with the Seattle Seahawks.
18. Mike Holmes – Texas Southern, San Francisco 49ers DB: Holmes grew up in Galveston, Texas and signed with Texas Southern because there were few other options for him in those years. Holmes played 3 seasons in the NFL, but then went to Canada to play in the CFL. He played for the Winnipeg Blue Raiders for 6 seasons and was an All Star. He finished up his football career in the United States Football League with the Washington Federals.
19. Darryl Stingley – Purdue, New England Patriots WR: One of the saddest football stories out there. Stingley grew up in Chicago and he was a star Running Back at Marshall High School. At Purdue, he played Wide Receiver as a sophomore and he caught 23 passes. Before his junior year, Stingley was moved to Running Back. He only ran for 248 yards, but he caught 36 passes for 734
yards, too. In 1972 as a senior, Stingley had modest stats, but he showed good hands during his career and he had some speed.
With the Patriots, Stingley had 5 good seasons with his last one being his best with 39 receptions for 657 yards and 5 Touchdowns.
In the preseason, Stingley was hit by Jack Tatum and the hit compressed his spinal cord and broke his 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae which left him a quadriplegic. The first Patriots player to get to Stingley was another of my heroes, Tight End Russ Francis, who was the road roommate of Stingley. Not only did the blow ruin Stingley’s life, but Francis was battered by it as well seeing his good friend laying there unable to move.
Stingley died in 2007 from heart disease and pneumonia. The only bright side of this incident is the new rules that later came into place about it. No flag was thrown on this play. Stingley says he forgave Jack Tatum for the hit, but he refused to meet with him.
20. Billy Joe Dupree – Michigan State, Dallas Cowboys TE: Another of my favorites as a youngster was Billy Joe Dupree. Fans love the quarterbacks, but I loved the Receivers and Tight Ends especially. This was also something of a symbol of the times because Dupree grew up in West Monroe, Louisiana. No big schools in the South recruited Dupree because of his skin color. His choices were either the historically black schools such as Grambling, or go North to a big time school. He chose Michigan State because of their Underground Railroad in the South back in those years which brought them such greats as George Webster, Bubba Smith, Sherman Lewis and Jimmy Raye just to name a few. The schools in the Big 10, while clearly not perfect, were recruiting black
players decades before the SEC and other Southern schools joined in.
At Michigan State, Dupree caught more than 20 passes in all three of his seasons on the varsity and finished with 69 receptions for 1,222 yards and 6 Touchdowns. He was 6-4, 225 which attracted the attention of NFL scouts and the Dallas Cowboys made him their number one pick in 1973. The Cowboys were not disappointed. Even though he was not huge and especially by today’s standards, Dupree was a superb blocker and a good receiver. He played 11 seasons for the Cowboys and was a Pro Bowler 3 times. Plus, he helped the Cowboys win one Super Bowl. In the NFL, Dupree caught 267 passes for 3,565 yards and 41 Touchdowns. In 11 NFL seasons, Billy Joe Dupree never missed a game.
21. Barry Smith – Florida State, Green Bay Packers WR: Smith went to high school in West Palm Beach, Florida at Coral Park High. He signed with Florida State. The Seminoles were not a good program in the years before Bobby Bowden, but they weren’t bad the three seasons that Smith was on the varsity. From 1970 through 1972, the Seminoles lost 4 games every season while winning 7,8 and 7 respectively. Smith caught 17 passes as a sophomore and then improved to 33 receptions as a junior. As a senior, he really took off with 69 catches for 1,243 yards and 13 Touchdowns. Those were impressive stats for those days.
The Packers were impressed and chose him with their 1st pick. Unfortunately, Smith did not have the same success in the NFL. His first season was not horrible when he caught 15 passes as a rookie. The following season, he caught 20 passes. But, then, in 1975 he only caught 6 passes and then he was off to Tampa Bay where he caught 4 passes and then he was out of football. He retired in 1976.
22. Pete Adams – USC, Cleveland Browns OG: Adams grew up in San Diego and attended University High School. Adams played for San Diego City College before transferring to USC. He was a starter at Guard for two seasons including the Trojans’ national championship season of 1972. Adams played 4 seasons for the Browns and started only during the 1976 season.
23. Ray Guy – Southern Mississippi, Oakland Raiders P: When you have awards named after you, then you know you are a legend. Each year in college football, the top punter wins the Ray Guy award. Ray Guy set the standard for punters and he is considered the best punter of all time. He was the first punter ever picked in the 1st round of the NFL Draft and he punted for the Raiders for 14 seasons and he made many Pro Bowls. Ray Guy kept setting one standard after another and in 2014 he became the first punter inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
24. JT Thomas – Florida State, Pittsburgh Steelers DB: The Florida State Seminoles and their
rivals the Miami Hurricanes were not very good in the early 1970s, but it was not because of lack of talent. Both schools had 2 first round draft picks in this draft. J.T. Thomas grew up in Macon, Georgia and signed with the Seminoles to play Cornerback. With the Steelers, he teamed with Mel Blount to form one of the best sets of Cornerbacks of all time. The Steelers won 4 Super Bowls with Thomas playing. He played 8 seasons for the Steelers, made the Pro Bowl and he picked off 20 passes. He was traded to the Denver Broncos before the 1982 season and he finished his career there. He had to sit out the 1978 season due to a blood disorder, but he bounced back in 1979.
After football, Thomas stayed in the Pittsburgh area and opened some restaurants.
25. Johnny Rodgers – Nebraska, San Diego Chargers WR: Rodgers was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1972. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska Rodgers was called ‘the Jet’ because of his speed. He decided to stay home and signed with the Cornhuskers. At Nebraska, he returned punts, played Wide Receiver and Running Back. Nebraska was unbeaten in 1970 and Rodgers caught 39 passes for 710 yards and 7 Touchdowns. He ran the ball 39 times for 210 yards.
The 1971 Cornhuskers were one of the great teams of all time and won the national title for the second season in a row. Rodgers was instrumental in the Huskers only close game of the year in a 35-31 win over Oklahoma in the Game of the Century when he returned a punt for a Touchdown. He had 57 receptions that season for 956 yards and 11 Touchdowns. He also had 269 yards rushing.
Nebraska finally lost a game in 1972, but Rodgers caught 58 passes for 1,013 yards and 9 Touchdowns. He also ran for another 348 yards and 10 more Touchdowns. Rodgers finished with 154 catches at run oriented Nebraska for 2,679 and 27 Touchdowns. He also had 836 yards rushing in 3 seasons and 14 Touchdowns. In spite of being drafted by the Chargers, Rodgers decided to play in Canada in the CFL and the Montreal Alouettes. In the CFL Rodgers was a genuine star making All Star 4 times. In 1977, Rodgers returned home and signed a lucrative contract with the Chargers. He was hampered by injuries his first season and then suffered a career ending knee injury in 1978.
After football, Rodgers returned to Omaha and became a businessman.
26. Joe DeLamiellure – Michigan State, Buffalo Bills OG: One of the game’s all time great Offensive Guards, DeLamiellure grew up in Detroit and played his high school football at St Clement High. At Michigan State, he was an All American in the last days of old time Spartan coach Duffy Daugherty.
The Buffalo Bills had taken OJ Simpson and then Michigan’s Reggie McKenzie before taking DeLamiellure. These guys formed a dangerous combination at Buffalo and the Offensive Line was known as the Electric Company. DeLamiellure was a 6 time Pro Bowler.
In 1980, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns where he played 5 seasons. Then, he went back to Buffalo, where it all began, and he played one more season. In all, he played 13 seasons in the NFL. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
64. Dan Fouts – Oregon, San Diego Chargers QB: Hall of Fame Quarterback.