Gilchrist-Teaser

Room to run

Gilchrist-Teaser
11/03/2009


The American Football League was labeled as “pass happy” during its 10-year existence. While that may well have been true, there was a great deal of top-notch talent rushing the ball as well.

50 Years After –
A look at the AFL, 1960-69

Beginning in 1960 and continuing through the league’s last season in 1969, nine AFL runners surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. This compared favorably to the National Football League who had a stable of only seven running backs that eclipsed the seasonal milestone.

This beckons the debate between the age old offensive philosophies of running the ball to set up the pass, or passing the ball to set up the run. Regardless, several players stand out when examining the runners of the AFL.

Clem Daniels, the AFL’s all-time leading rusher, played eight steady years in the league, all but one with the Oakland Raiders. At 6’1” and 220 pounds, Daniels was a bruising runner who also had hands as soft as a wide receiver. He left the league following the 1967 season with 5,101 yards rushing and 202 receptions for 3,291 yards.

Another AFL power back was Cookie Gilchrist who played with the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. Known as the “Jim Bown of the AFL,” Gilchrist sized up at 6’1”, 250 pounds which helped him twice lead the AFL in rushing. His best single-game performance came on December 8, 1963 while with the Bills when he churned out 243 yards against the New York Jets. This monster performance stood atop pro football’s record books until 1971.

The most successful AFL team from a running standpoint may have been the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans/Chiefs led the AFL in rushing four times. The weight of this success was carried by runners Abner Haynes, Curtis McClinton, Mike Garrett, and Robert Holmes. This group of skilled ball-carriers were the only running backs ever to lead the team in rushing during the decade of the 1960s and each player made at least one appearance in the AFL All-Star Game.

Year Player, Team Att. Yards Avg. TD
1960 Abner Haynes, Dallas Texans 156 875 5.6 9
1961 Billy Cannon, Houston Oilers 200 948 4.7 6
1962 Cookie Gilchrist, Buffalo Bills 214 1,096 5.1 13
1963 Clem Daniels, Oakland Raiders 215 1,099 5.1 3
1964 Cookie Gilchrist, Buffalo Bills 230 981 4.3 6
1965 Paul Lowe, San Diego Chargers 222 1,121 5.1 7
1966 Jim Nance, Boston Patriots 299 1,450 4.9 11
1967 Jim Nance, Boston Patriots 269 1,216 4.5 7
1968 Paul Robinson, Cincinnati Bengals 238 1,023 4.3 8
1969 Dickie Post, San Diego Chargers 182 873 4.8 6

Player Att. Yards Avg. TD
Clem Daniels 1,134 5,101 4.5 30
Paul Lowe 1,026 4,995 4.9 30
Abner Haynes 1,036 4,630 4.5 46
Jim Nance 1,049 4,338 4.1 33
Cookie Gilchrist 1,010 4,293 4.3 37
Matt Snell 993 4,004 4.0 23
Bill Mathis 1,044 3,589 3.4 37
Keith Lincoln 758 3,383 4.5 19
Wray Carlton 819 3,368 4.1 29
Charley Tolar 907 3,277 3.6 21

 

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