March 22, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Earl Faison, 1961


Defensive End, San Diego Chargers



Age: 22
College: Indiana
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 256

Prelude:
Following an outstanding college career in which he was All-American and All-Big 10, Faison was chosen by the Chargers in the first round of the 1961 AFL draft (seventh overall – he was also drafted by Detroit of the NFL in the fifth round of that league’s draft). He quickly moved into the starting lineup across from DE Ron Nery in a defensive line that also included tackles Ernie Ladd and Bill Hudson and was named “The Fearsome Foursome”.

1961 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 1 at Dallas 9/10, vs. Houston 9/24
Int. return yards – 14
Most int. return yards, game – 8 (on 1 int.) vs. Houston 9/24
Int. TDs – 0

Scoring
2-pt PAT – 1
Points – 2

Postseason – 1G (AFL Championship vs. Houston)
Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 0

Awards & Honors:
AFL Rookie of the Year: UPI
1st team All-AFL: League, AP, UPI, NY Daily News, Sporting News
AFL All-Star Game

Chargers went 12-2 to finish first in the AFL Western Division while leading the league in total defense (3720 yards), passing defense (2363 yards), and interceptions (49), while ranking second in sacks (42). Lost AFL Championship to Houston Oilers (10-3).

Aftermath:
Faison missed half of the 1962 season due to a knee injury, although his performance was still strong enough to gain him second-team All-AFL recognition (UPI) and a spot in the AFL All-Star Game. An outstanding pass rusher who was widely considered the best at his position in the league at a time before sacks were compiled, he was a consensus All-AFL first-team pick in each of the next three seasons, including the 1963 Championship year for the Chargers. Contract problems caused the Chargers to attempt to trade Faison and Ernie Ladd to Houston in 1966, but the deal was voided by Commissioner Joe Foss and he was dealt to the expansion Miami Dolphins during the season, after which he retired. In just six seasons, Faison was a consensus first-team All-AFL selection four times and was selected to five AFL All-Star Games. He went on to become a long-time educator and high school football coach.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL (including NFC/AFC), AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/4/14]

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