HOF Mail Bag - Lance Alworth

12/29/2005
Lance_AlworthFootball has been and always will be my passion. Lance, I'm curious as I recalled someone telling me that back in your days you guys didn't do much weight lifting. How did you get better at your speed and routes? I'm sure you would probably say practice makes perfect, but is there any unique drills or exercises you used to strength your speed and routes? Thanks. - NFL fan

At that point in time we did not lift weights. We had just started on weight programs and everyone was a little bit scared to use them because it was like if you used weights you were going to get really tight so you didn't do that. Mainly we just ran; we ran a lot of sprints and a lot of distance. I think that's what increased our speed if anything, is us running sprints. You got to run the 15, the 25, the 75, the 125, and then the 200, not only to get the quickness and the speed but to get to the point where you can run for quite some time because the game lasts for quite a while.

As far as running the routes -- today they don't really run the routes as much as we used to, I feel because they are seeing a lot more of zone coverage than we did. They are hitting zones in between zones and stuff like that. Times change and the players have to change with it and I think that's what's happened as far as weights and I don't think the weights make you any faster.  They will make you stronger and you can withstand some of the hits you might have gotten. That would have to be it as far as the weights concerned.

I know when I first started doing a little bit it helped me because I could hit some of those guys rather than being hit all the time and didn't feel like I was falling apart. The weight lifting is really, really good. I'm glad now they have programs and I'm sure the guys benefit greatly from it.

You played running back at Arkansas and were a Hall of Fame receiver. Did the transition give you trouble? Which position was harder to play? - Patrick Gallivan

AlworthThe transition didn't give me any problem because I didn't feel like I could play pro football as a running back because I wasn't big enough. In fact, Kansas City wanted me to play defensive back and I told them, 'Don't draft me because I'm going to law school.' So I was tickled to death when the Chargers drafted me as a receiver.

The transition wasn't that hard because at that point there wasn't a lot of receivers in college, that position hadn't evolved yet. I think the pro scouts had to go looking for small backs or quick backs, like myself, that could probably catch the ball. I think that's how at that point in time we evolved from being halfbacks into being receivers.

It wasn't that difficult to do, it was a lot of fun because to me, I love to catch the football. I think all receivers have to have that love of wanting the ball and going after it and that was a fun position for me to play.

Dear Lance, what defense that you went up against challenged you the most? - Sincerely, Matt Brown

I would have to say that probably the defense that gave me the biggest problem was Oakland. The reason for that was because they had Willie Brown playing cornerback. Willie was a great cornerback, man-on-man, bump and run, they bumped you from the moment you stepped up to the line of scrimmage until you caught the ball. It was always a big challenge that I really looked forward to but I would have to say that Oakland was the defense that gave us the most problems.

Hello Mr. Alworth, what would you consider your best assets? Obviously, you were lightning fast and had great hands, but what else did it take to become one of the finest wide receivers ever? And how do you think those assets would fortify a 1967 Lance Alworth to play in today's game? You would be a small wide receiver today, but the way you excelled against big physical cornerbacks like Hall of Famer Willie Brown suggests that you'd fit in well. What I wouldn't give to see #19 running patterns again.

The assets that God gave me, were the quickness was the first thing that got me off the line of scrimmage and the ability to be able to avoid the guys that were trying to grab you, put their hands on you from the moment you walked up there. From there on its all eye-hand coordination, something maybe people don't think about a lot. When the ball was thrown I knew where it was going to be.

AlworthAs far as size, look at Santana Moss and Marvin Harrison, there's plenty of room out there for the small quick guys that can really catch. You just got to be able to catch the ball. It doesn't make any difference what size you are. That kind of ability is God given and you could be 6'5" and somebody that's 5'8" could catch the ball better than most guys even though there's a big size difference. I think that's a little bit overrated. I think size is a little bit overrated only because now you're getting to where you have bigger quarterbacks. As long as you have those 6'5" quarterbacks they can see you anywhere. I think that's where the game is going.

It would be great to play today but you know the rules have changed. It would be fun to see how we could do against them. I know the defensive backs wouldn't want to be playing now because they're in a horrible position not being able to touch the guys and having all the penalties that are called these days. I don't think it's a fair comparison right now for the defensive backs because our offensive guys really have the advantage over them.

I remember you caught a short TD pass in the Super Bowl when you played for the Dallas Cowboys. Could you please describe your memories of that play, what kind of route it was, and if you were the primary receiver on that play. Thanks and happy holidays to my favorite NFL receiver!!! - Paul Rozmus, Pittsburgh, PA

I appreciate that very much. I appreciate it for the memory more than anything else. It was a quick out and on the quick out I was supposed to cheat in a little bit and run about a 4-yard quick out. I was to take four steps and as soon as I cut the ball was supposed to be there.

When I did that, rather than throwing the ball the quarterback pumped and I kept going to the sidelines, then (Roger) Staubach got me the ball but he had such a strong arm he threw the ball to me anyway after he had pumped and I was like 'God, this ball is going to be intercepted because the guy is already coming' and fortunately enough he was so strong he threw the ball past him and the guy barely missed it and I caught it for the touchdown. I could see a 99-yard interception or something of that nature because of pumping the ball on a quick out.

It was just what we called a quick out, you run four steps and make a quick cut and the ball usually is right there. What happened was I had ran about another 10 or 15 yards before the ball was thrown and over to the side. It was a little bit scary but it worked. I had a touchdown and we had the lead.

Back to news