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A GAME WITHIN A GAME

Dec. 22, 1969
Dec. 22, 1969

Table of Contents
Dec. 22, 1969

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A GAME WITHIN A GAME

It's the annual rite of picking NFL and AFL all-star teams. But the choices are too often based on reputation. The all-league teams presented here were selected by the assistant coaches, who go by ability

By Robert F. Jones

Would you believe the following:

This is an article from the Dec. 22, 1969 issue Original Layout

•An AFL all-star team on which Daryle Lamonica didn't get a single vote?

•An NFL all-star team on which players from the Central Division filled 10 of the 22 positions?

•An NFL all-star team on which a rookie, Calvin Hill, received more votes than anyone, except Dick Butkus?

Well, sports fans, your credulity is about to be challenged. With the games dwindling down to a precious few and the heavens portending the selection of all-stars, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the first time presents All-NFL and All-AFL teams (page 21), from which a random selection of players is pictured on the following pages. These teams include the anomalies listed above—and more.

In many respects, any all-star team resembles the Tucker automobile of 1946: great design, plenty of bright ideas, but perhaps a bit of a con. An all-star team's greatest virtue, however, derives from its gravest fault. Since no all-star team can satisfy every fan, the selections invariably generate winter-long debates—and, to the addict, outraged exception is a game within a game within a game.

Most all-star teams are selected by head coaches (the AFL and NFL All-Star Game squads), sportswriters and sportscasters (AP and UPI) or players (NEA). SI turned to the assistant coaches, offensive and defensive, to compile its teams. Our reasoning: the assistants watch more miles of game film more intensively, forward and backward, than anyone else; their futures depend on objective analyses, and thus they are less likely to indulge in ax-grinding.

Each team was awarded one vote for each position, and no one was allowed to vote for a member of his own team. If the coaches were unable to agree on a man for a given spot, the vote was fractionalized. In the AFL, Oakland declined to choose a tight end, while in the NFL, Philadelphia didn't pick wide receivers and chose only one defensive back. Atlanta Coach Norm Van Brocklin refused to permit his assistants to choose anybody—a decision in keeping with his crotchety character. As one observer has noted: "The last time Norm cooperated in anything was when he emerged from the womb, and even then I'll bet he dragged his feet."

As the voting was tabulated, a number of interesting facts became apparent. In the AFL New York placed six players on the all-star team versus five for Oakland and three for Kansas City, while only Boston wasn't represented. In the NFL fully half of the league's 16 teams—Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Washington—failed to place a single player. Does this indicate greater balance in the AFL or more perspicacity in the NFL?

Quarterback is generally conceded to be the premier position in football, yet in both leagues only three quarterbacks received votes: Joe Namath (7), Len Dawson (2) and Bob Griese (1) in the AFL; Roman Gabriel (7‚Öì), Sonny Jurgensen (6‚Öî) and Bill Nelsen (1) in the NFL. Why this near unanimity—and why were such stick-outs as Lamonica, John Brodie, Fran Tarkenton and Joe Kapp overlooked?

There also were some curiosities. Two Dallas centers received votes. Minnesota Cornerback Bobby Bryant got a vote as a safety, which may say something for his ubiquity. On one NFL team four different assistants picked five different corner-backs. Fourteen NFL guards got votes. This may mean a preponderance of talent at that position, a lack of it or, Jerry Kramer notwithstanding, that no one is sure exactly what the guards are up to.

Two of these NFL guards—Ken Gray and Irv Goode—play for St. Louis, and with a tackle (Ernie McMillan), a center (Bob DeMarco) and Tight End Jackie Smith also getting votes, the Cards have the strongest offensive line in the league by our pollsters' count. (The statistics don't seem to bear this out: St. Louis has the ninth best offense in the NFL.)

Finally, there was the team that picked Sam Walton of the Jets for offensive tackle. Walton played in only six games before being demoted to the taxi squad, whereupon he disappeared. It would be nice to say: Sam Walton, wherever you are, there are a bunch of assistant coaches who think you're just a swell tackle. But, alas, this may not be the case. The team in question called back to say it really meant to vote for Winston Hill. Well, maybe.

THE ALL-STARS AND THE ALSO-RANS

NFL

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK

Roman Gabriel, LA 7‚Öì
S. Jurgensen, Wash 6‚Öî
Bill Nelsen, Clev 1

WIDE RECEIVERS

Paul Warfield, Clev 9
Gene Washington, Minn 5
Charlie Taylor, Wash 4½
Roy Jefferson, Pitt 3
Boyd Dowler, GB 1
Carroll Dale, GB 1
Bob Hayes, Dal 1
Gene Washington, SF 1
Gary Collins, Clev 1
Dave Williams, StL 1
Jimmy Orr, Balt½

RUNNING BACKS

Calvin Hill, Dal 11
Gale Sayers, Chi 8‚Öì
Leroy Kelly, Clev 2‚Öî
T. Woodeshick, Phil 2
Larry Smith, LA 1
Ron Johnson, Clev 1
Ken Willard, SF 1
Jim Butler, Atl 1
Bill Brown, Minn 1
Andy Livingston, NO 1

TIGHT END

Jackie Smith, StL 6½
Jerry Smith, Wash 3
John Mackey, Balt 3
Charlie Sanders, Det 2½

CENTER

Mick Tingelhoff, Minn 6
Ed Flanagan, Det 2
Len Hauss, Wash 2
Forrest Blue, SF 1
Bob DeMarco, StL 1
Greg Larson, NY 1
Dave Manders, Dal 1
Malcolm Walker, Dal 1

TACKLES

Ralph Neely, Dal 7‚Öì
Charlie Cowan, LA 7
Bob Brown, LA 6‚Öî
Ernie McMillan, StL 2½
Len Rohde, SF 2
Bob Vogel, Balt 1½
Grady Alderman, Minn 1
George Kunz, Atl 1
Dick Schafrath, Clev 1

GUARDS

Gale Gillingham, GB 7
Gene Hickerson, Clev 6[1/6]
Tom Mack, LA 5[1/6]
John Demarie, Clev 2
Ken Gray, StL 2
Irvin Goode, StL 1
George Seals, Chi 1
Chuck Walton, Det 1
Doug Van Horn, NY 1
John Niland, Dal 1
Larry Gagner, Pitt 1
Ray Schoenke, Wash 1
Joe Scibelli, LA‚Öì
Elmer Collett, SF‚Öì

DEFENSE

SAFETIES

Larry Wilson, StL 6 1/12
Willie Wood, GB 4‚Öì
Mel Renfro, Dal 3
Eddie Meador, LA 2¾
Rick Volk, Balt 2‚Öì
Paul Krause, Minn 2
Ernie Kellerman, Clev 1¾
Mike Howell, Clev 1¼
Mike Gaechter, Dal 1
Karl Kassulke, Minn 1
Joe Scarpati, Phil 1½
Jerry Logan, Balt 1
Bobby Bryant, Minn 1

CORNERBACKS

Lem Barney, Det 9¼
Herb Adderley, GB 4
Cornell Green, Dal 4
Bob Jeter, GB 3¾
Jim Johnson, SF 3½
E. Mackbee, Minn 1¼
Bobby Bryant, Minn 1
Joe Taylor, Chi 1
Erich Barnes, Clev¼

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Dick Butkus, Chi 11¾
Tom Nobis, Atl 1¼
Ray Nitschke, GB 1
Lee Roy Jordan, Dal 1

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Chuck Howley, Dal 9
Dave Robinson, GB 8
Dave Wilcox, SF 3
C. Hanburger, Wash 2½
Mike Curtis, Balt 2
Dave Edwards, Dal 1½
Jim Houston, Clev 1¼
Larry Stallings, StL 1¼
Roy Winston, Minn 1
Jack Pardee, LA¼
Dale Lindsey, Clev¼

TACKLES

Bob Lilly, Dal 10½
Merlin Olsen, LA 10
Alan Page, Minn 4½
Alex Karras, Det 3½
Joe Greene, Pitt 1
Walter Johnson, Clev½

ENDS

Carl Eller, Minn 10½
Deacon Jones, LA 9½
C. Humphrey, Atl 3½
Jim Marshall, Minn 3½
George Andrie, Dal 3

AFL

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK

Joe Namath, NY 7
Len Dawson, KC 2
Bob Griese, Miami 1

WIDE RECEIVERS

Don Maynard, NY 5
Fred Biletnikoff, Oak 4
George Sauer, NY 3
Warren Wells, Oak 3
Lance Alworth, SD 2
Otis Taylor, KC 2
Al Denson, Den 1

CENTER

Jim Otto, Oak 4
Jon Morris, Bos 3
Bob Johnson, Cin 2
John Schmitt, NY 1

RUNNING BACKS

Floyd Little, Den 8
Matt Snell, NY 3½
Dickie Post, SD 2
Hoyle Granger, Hou 2
Jess Phillips, Cin 1½
Mike Garrett, KC 1
Brad Hubbert, SD 1
Jim Nance, Bos 1

TIGHT END

Bob Trumpy, Cin 5
Alvin Reed, Hou 2
Willie Frazier, SD 1
Pete Lammons, NY 1

TACKLES

James Tyrer, KC 6
Winston Hill, NY 4
Harry Schuh, Oak 3
Glen Ray Hines, Hou 2
Ron Mix, SD 2
Walt Suggs, Hou 2
Ernie Wright, Cin 1

GUARDS

Walt Sweeney, SD 5
Gene Upshaw, Oak 5
Ed Budde, KC 3
Billy Shaw, Buf 3
Randy Rasmussen, NY 2
Mo Moorman, KC 1
Tom Regner, Hou 1

DEFENSE

SAFETIES

Dave Grayson, Oak 6
Ken Houston, Hou 5‚Öì
Johnny Robinson, KC 4
George Saimes, Buf 1
Bobby Hunt, Cin 1
Jim Kearney, KC 1
Kenny Graham, SD 1
George Atkinson, Oak‚Öî

CORNERBACKS

Willie Brown, Oak 8
Butch Byrd, Buf 7
Miller Farr, Hou 2
Booker Edgerson, Buf 1
Speedy Duncan, SD 1
Bill Thompson, Den 1

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Nick Buoniconti, Miami 4
Willie Lanier, KC 3½
Garland Boyette, Hou 1
Harry Jacobs, Buf 1
Dan Conners, Oak½

TACKLES

Buck Buchanan, KC 6
John Elliott, NY 4
Houston Antwine, Bos 2
Dave Costa, Den 2
Tom Keating, Oak 2
Dan Birdwell, Oak 1
Curley Culp, KC 1
Jim Dunaway, Buf 1
Jim Hunt, Bos 1

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Bobby Bell, KC 7
George Webster, Hou 5‚Öì
Larry Grantham, NY 2
Gus Otto, Oak 1‚Öî
Mike Stratton, Buf 1½
Ralph Baker, NY 1
Jim Lynch, KC 1
Bill Bergey, Cin½

ENDS

Rich Jackson, Den 8
Gerry Philbin, NY 5
Steve DeLong, SD 2
Jerry Mays, KC 2
Elvin Bethea, Hou 1
Ike Lassiter, Oak 1
Ron McDole, Buf 1

PHOTONFL: Middle linebacker, Dick Butkus, ChicagoPHOTONFL: Safety, Larry Wilson, St. LouisPHOTOAFL: Guard, Gene Upshaw, OaklandPHOTONFL: Center, Mick Tingelhoff, MinnesotaPHOTOAFL: Running back, Floyd Little, DenverPHOTONFL: Linebacker, Dave Robinson, Green BayPHOTONFL: Wide receiver, Paul Warfield, ClevelandPHOTONFL: Defensive tackle, Bob Lilly, DallasPHOTOAFL: Wide receiver, Fred Biletnikoff, OaklandPHOTOAFL: Guard, Walt Sweeney, San DiegoPHOTONFL: Cornerback, Lem Barney, DetroitPHOTOAFL: Defensive tackle, Buck Buchanan, Kansas CityPHOTONFL: Quarterback, Roman Gabriel, Los AngelesPHOTOAFL: Linebacker, George Webster, Houston