Pro Football Hall of Fame Presents Countdown to Canton on Sirius NFL Radio. Listen each Friday morning from now through Enshrinement Day on August 8. Hosts Bob Papa and Randy Cross welcome a different Hall of Fame legend each Friday at 10 Eastern to talk some football. Don’t miss as these football greats share stories from their careers, to what it was like on their induction day, and a personal perspective on the Hall’s newest class – Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr. and Rod Woodson.
Stop by Profootballhof.com each week leading up to Bob and Randy’s interview. We’ll take a look back at that week’s featured Hall of Famer and recount his enshrinement day. The Hall’s research staff will also dig into the archives and hone in on events that helped shape the careers of these Hall of Fame legends.
This week’s guest: KEN HOUSTON, Class of 1986
For 14 seasons, including 12 of which earned him a Pro Bowl berth, Houston let his actions speak louder than any of his words. He quietly built a reputation as one of the most dominating safeties ever to play in the NFL. Along the way he earned the respect of his coaches, teammates, and opponents.
Anyone who has met Ken Houston or observed his presence on a football field would not at all be surprised by how humble he was to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
In typical fashion, Houston deflected much of the attention as he accepted his place in Canton during his enshrinement ceremony on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the summer of 1986. He spoke more about the individuals who he was joining than he did about himself.
“It is a very special moment for me. I am in awe of what is happening. I really am.” Houston shared with the audience on August 2, 1986. “Because in my lifetime, I had no idea in my brain that I would be standing here in the Hall of Fame. I always thought the Hall of Fame was reserved for other people.”
Let me have that ball
Ken Houston had an uncanny ability to intercept passes. He retired from the game as the NFL’s all-time leader of interceptions returned for TDs with nine. All of those scores came during his time with the Houston Oilers who had selected him in the ninth round of the 1967 draft.
Houston played six seasons with the Oilers and picked off 25 passes during that span. He recorded a career-high 9 interceptions during a memorable 1971 season. That year, Houston became the first player in league history, and today remains one of just three players, to return four interceptions for touchdowns in the same season.
Prior to the 1973 season, the Oilers dealt Houston to the Washington Redskins in exchange for five players. The Oilers received TE Mack Alston, T Jim Snowden, DB Jeff Severson, WR Clifton McNeil, and DE Mike Fanucci in the trade.
The Redskins made out big in the deal as only Alston played more than a couple of seasons for the Oilers. Meanwhile, Houston continued to excel with the Redskins. He intercepted 24 more passes during his eight years in Washington to finish with 49 career picks by the time he retired following the 1980 season.
Houston was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Teams of the 1970s and then, in 1994, was voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team.
More from Profootballhof.com
Ken Houston’s record-setting 1971 season
Houston’s HOF Bio
Team Histories: Titans/Oilers | Redskins
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