American Football Passing and Catching Greats
A football team needs all kinds of warriors to make the passing game work. Here are a few snapshots of the performers who are worth remembering. Many of them mixed style with grace, talent, and toughness.
The San Diego Chargers had a receiver named “Bambi.” Lance Alworth hated his nickname, which was given to him by a teammate who thought he had the speed and grace of a deer. Alworth had short hair and brown eyes and ran like the wind — right into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alworth was the second player to reach 10,000 receiving yards.
Joe Willie Namath was one of the first players to wear white football shoes. “Broadway Joe” was a flashy bachelor quarterback for the New York Jets in the 1960s and early 1970s who once wore a fur coat on the sidelines. In the 1967 season, he threw for 4,007 yards in just 14 games. And Namath followed through on his guarantee to beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Earl “Curly” Lambeau was the first quarterback/coach of the Green Bay Packers. In the 1930s, Coach Lambeau (the Green Bay stadium is named after him) opted for a wide-open passing game when most NFL teams were still slugging each other with the running game. Lambeau made stars of players like receiver Don Hutson.
Johnny Unitas is in the Hall of Fame, but he wasn’t always a Baltimore Colts’ star. He played minor league football in 1955 for $3 a game. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him but then didn’t believe that he was good enough to make their team and released him from their roster. Unitas, famous for his black high-top football shoes, ended up being the first quarterback to pass for 40,000 yards.