Ken Houston excelled as the premier free safety of his era in a 14-year span that began with the 1967 Houston Oilers who drafted him in the ninth round of the AFL-NFL draft. He earned a starter’s role by the third game of his rookie season. Two weeks later, in a game against the New York Jets, he scored two touchdowns, one on a 71-yard blocked field goal attempt, and the other on a 43-yard interception return.
After excelling for six years with the Oilers, Ken was traded to the Redskins for five veteran players in 1973. The Redskins once referred to Houston as "pro football's most underrated super-star," but his capabilities were widely recognized. He won all-league acclaim with the Oilers in 1969 and 1971, and then was either All-Pro or All-NFC with the Redskins every year from 1973 to 1979.
He was selected for either the AFL All-Star game or the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl 12 straight seasons from 1968 through 1979. With a long, fluid stride, he had excellent speed and quickness. His 6-3, 197-pound frame made him an ideal pass defender. Yet his lean, muscular body helped him to become a punishing tackler.
Once he got his hands on the ball, he was a talented runner. Even before he finished his tenure with the Oilers, Houston had assured himself of a spot in the NFL record book by returning nine interceptions for touchdowns. He also tied two other records with four TDs on steals in one season and two interception touchdowns in a single game. Altogether, he stole 49 passes and returned them 898 yards. He also recovered 21 fumbles and scored 12 touchdowns, nine on interceptions and one each on a punt return, a fumble return, and a blocked field goal return.
Kenneth Ray Houston
November 12, 1944
Dunbar (Texarkana, Texas)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame:
January 25, 1986
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
August 2, 1986
Wally Lemm, Houston's head coach with Oilers
Other Members of Class of 1986: Paul Hornung
, Willie Lanier
, Fran Tarkenton
, Doak Walker
14 seasons, 196 games
9th round (214 player overall) in 1967 by Houston Oilers