September 6, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Mel Farr, 1967

Halfback, Detroit Lions



Age: 23 (Nov. 3)
College: UCLA
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 208

Prelude:
The consensus All-American as a senior in 1966 was chosen by the Lions in the first round of the 1967 NFL/AFL draft (seventh overall). A slashing runner with good hands and blocking ability, it was anticipated that he could play at both halfback and fullback.

1967 Season Summary
Appeared in 13 of 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 206 [4]
Most attempts, game - 24 (for 197 yds.) at Minnesota 11/12
Yards – 860 [5]
Most yards, game – 197 yards (on 24 carries) at Minnesota 11/12
Average gain – 4.2 [10, tied with John David Crow & A.D. Whitfield]
TDs – 3
100-yard rushing games – 1

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 39 [19, tied with Ernie Green & Dan Reeves]   
Most receptions, game – 8 (for 70 yds.) vs. Pittsburgh 12/3
Yards – 317
Most yards, game - 82 (on 7 catches) vs. Cleveland 9/24
Average gain – 8.1
TDs – 3

All-Purpose yards – 1177

Passing
Attempts – 2
Completions – 0
TDs – 0
INT – 0

Scoring
TDs – 6
Points – 36

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: UPI, NEA, Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP
Pro Bowl

Lions went 5-7-2 to finish third in the Central Division of the NFL Western Conference while finishing third in the league in rushing yards (1907).

Aftermath:
A knee injury that required surgery limited Farr to nine games in 1968, yet he still led the club in rushing (597 yards) and touchdowns (7, tied with flanker Billy Gambrell). After appearing in just five games and running for 245 yards in ’69, Farr came back with a Pro Bowl season in 1970 as he rushed for 717 yards, caught 29 passes for 213 more yards, and scored 11 TDs. However, nagging injuries diminished his play in his last three seasons and he dropped behind HB Altie Taylor on the depth chart. He retired in 1973 having rushed for 3072 yards on 739 carries (4.2 avg.), caught 146 passes for 1374 yards (9.4 avg.) and scored 36 touchdowns. Farr received second-team All-NFL honors once and was twice chosen to the Pro Bowl, but injuries diminished his promising career. His older brother Miller was a defensive back in the AFL and NFL and two sons, Mel Jr. and Mike, went on to play in the NFL.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, 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). 

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