HOF Mailbag - Ken Houston

Ken_HoustonHi Mr. Houston - Who was the toughest wide receiver you had to cover in your football tenure? - Scott Blair

That's a very, very hard question because every team has those great receivers. I played with Charley Taylor and Roy Jefferson. We played against (Fred) Biletnikoff and people like that. (Paul) Warfield  had to be up there.  But, if I had to pick one guy whose not mentioned that much, I think Lance Alworth  was the complete package. He could run he could jump. I don't know of a good way to describe him, I guess "Bambi" was his nickname, you talk about receivers but because he's out of the limelight a lot you don't think of him that much.  But, I'll say Lance Alworth because of his speed and quickness.

Houston_RedskinsKenny, Please tell us what us was like playing for the late George Allen and being part of his "Over The Hill Gang." Were those teams better and more competitive because of the many veterans on them? - L. Bell

Well, absolutely.  I thought it was a much smarter club. Once I got there and to see what they played for and how they played was very impressive to me. I was 27 when I got there and I was thinking about retiring. And what our first conversation was that 'Whoa you're really young. You're almost too young to stop (playing).'

And I looked around the locker room they had Pat Fischer, Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer. These guys are really, really old. So I kind of jump started my career at that point and played until I was 37.  So, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I played for a lot of great coaches but if I had to pick one to play for it would be George Allen .

Houston-1Hey Ken - What was your favorite interception return for a touchdown?

My favorite interception return for a touchdown was against the Miami Dolphins. (Bob) Griese  was the quarterback and he threw a ball going in and I remember jumping up and intercepting it and it was like I was a receiver because I caught it going away and I planted my foot and ran it back for a touchdown. It's not one that's talked about that much. It's probably not really seen by a lot of people but it had to be my greatest interception.

Mr. Houston, you were a great safety back in your day, and it's hard for me to admit that though being a Cowboy fan. Speaking of Cowboys, what do you think of their hard-hitting safety Roy Williams? Do you see Canton in his future? - C.J. Harvey

Well, I think he's very aggressive. I think that he is a tremendous safety but he may be a little bit one dimensional. He's probably an undersized linebacker; tremendous hitter, maybe the best in the league.

To me, and I'm not saying it because I'm in Canton, but I think one of the things that sportswriters going around the country (are looking for) is a complete defensive back; which means one that covers well in the pass, through one-on-one coverage, and is a combination of both. I'm not saying that he's not that.  I'm not saying that he can't develop to be that but that would be the criteria for getting in the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Houston, what did it do to your psyche when you were traded to the Washington Redskins midway through your career, after spending so much time in Texas growing up, and how difficult was it to adjust to life in Washington D.C.? - Scott Bressler, Denver, CO

Houston-Garrison I've been in Texas all my life. I went to school in Prairie View and that's about 50 miles from Houston where I played and had great years with the Oilers.

I was under the impression when I signed my last contract with Houston that I would be an Oiler until I retired. Shortly after I signed I was traded and I had real mixed emotions. But when they told me who I was traded to, we were fans of the "Over the Hill Gang" I think most players were. And to get a start in Washington under George Allen was very, very good for my career.

What I remember when I got there he had traded these guys for me, I wasn't a starter. Roosevelt Taylor who at that time was a free safety broke his arm and Brig Owens moved to free safety.  I ended up at strong safety and we played the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night shortly after that and I made a tackle on Walt Garrison (see photo above).   From that time on, my career just kind of jump started and I had great years there.

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