Billy Cannon, RIP

Discussion in 'NFL' started by Don Wassall, May 21, 2018.

  1. Don Wassall

    Don Wassall Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2004
    Messages:
    21,969
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Billy Cannon was one of the most famous and heralded college running backs ever, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1959 while playing for LSU. He died the other day at the age of 80.

    Cannon signed with Houston of the AFL in that league's first season, 1960. He had two good seasons running the ball and led the AFL in rushing yards in 1961, but must have suffered a serious injury in '62 as his stats fell through the roof after that; by '64 he was listed as a fullback, then a tight end for the final six years of his pro career. His last carry was in 1964.

    This video popped up on YouTube after his death. The punt return that starts off the clip is one of the most famous runbacks in college football history. As usual with long ago players the highlights are sparse.


     
  2. BeyondFedUp

    BeyondFedUp Mentor

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2004
    Messages:
    1,720
    Location:
    United States
    Thanks for posting this, Don. Excellent player, before my time of course. It's rare we see these great White athletes get the recognition they deserve.
     
  3. sport historian

    sport historian Master

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Messages:
    2,491
    I saw Billy Cannon play on TV many times. The first time was the 1959 Sugar Bowl. In Cannon's third pro season, he had a serious back injury and was never an effective runner again. In 1964 Cannon went to the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis wanted him, and played fullback, blocking for Clem Daniels.

    The Raiders switched Cannon to tight end and he was the best in the AFL at the position (Cannon has the distinction of being All-AFL at both RB and TE) in 1967 as the Raiders won the AFL title and made the Super Bowl, losing to Lombardi's Packers. Cannon was on the Houston Oilers 1960 and 1961 AFL Championship teams. He was the MVP of both the 1960 and 1961 title games. In the 1960 game Cannon took a short pass from George Blanda and went 88 yards for the clinching TD.

    Cannon's best verified 100 yard time was 9.5 in the spring of 1959. He considered trying out for the 1960 Olympics as a sprinter but took the big contract from the Houston Oilers.

    Worth reading is the only biography (he had many other book offers but turned them down), "Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run," published by the Louisiana State Press in 2015.
     
  4. BeyondFedUp

    BeyondFedUp Mentor

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2004
    Messages:
    1,720
    Location:
    United States
    Great facts and stats, sport historian! A lot of twists and players involved in these great careers.
     
  5. Extra Point

    Extra Point Master

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Messages:
    3,647
    I had heard the name but didn't know much about him. A great white athlete.

    Hopefully whites will someday be again given opportunities to play running back and we will see white athletes following in Cannon's footsteps.

    RIP Billy Cannon
     
  6. white is right

    white is right Hall of Famer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Messages:
    7,906
    He also went to prison for being involved in a counterfeit money scheme. Out of the depths he decided to change his life and gave free dental care to prisoners in need of dental work. I would regard that as his life's greatest work. RIP...

    PS I tried looking for the 60 minutes interview he did about his dental program in the Angola state pen., but I found this interview......
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018

Share This Page