(Photos courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)
Talk of Fame Network
Joe Namath guaranteed a victory for his New York Jets, and the upstart AFL in Super Bowl III and delivered. That makes him the most historical figure to come out of the AFL.
But the best player to come out of the AFL? That would be San Diego wide receiver Lance Alworth. So say listeners and readers at The Talk of Fame Network, who voted Alworth the AFL’s top player by a wide margin in this week’s poll.
Alworth received 61 percent of the vote to outdistance Namath at 17 percent. Middle linebacker Willie Lanier of the Kansas City Chiefs finished third at 13 percent, followed by cornerback Willie Brown of the Oakland Raiders at 6 percent and defensive tackle Buck Buchanan of the Chiefs at 3 percent.
Alworth was one of only three AFL alumni selected to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team along with Lanier and Raiders' guard Gene Upshaw. Alworth was also the first AFL player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He won an AFL title early in his career with the Chargers and a Super Bowl late in his career with the Cowboys.
Alworth was a first-round NFL draft pick by San Francisco and a second-round AFL draft pick by San Diego. But he chose the Chargers and became a perfect fit in the pass-happy AFL. He’s been retired now for 43 years but his statistics still stand tall.
Alworth ranks 40th in yards (10,266), 15th in touchdowns (85) and 13th in average per catch (18.9). Nicknamed "Bambi," he averaged more than 100 yards per game in three seasons and also better than 20 yards per catch in three seasons. His first receivers coach was Al Davis, which planted the seed for his vertical stretch philosophy with the Raiders.
Namath, Lanier, Brown and Buchanan are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as is Davis.