May 30, 2012

MVP Profile: Jack Kemp, 1965

Quarterback, Buffalo Bills

Age:  30
8th season in pro football (7th active), 6th in AFL, 4th (3rd complete) with Bills
College: Occidental
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 201

The road to pro football success was a difficult one for Kemp, taken in the 17th round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions after playing collegiately at little Occidental College. He saw scant action in the preseason but, after Head Coach Buddy Parker resigned and then took over in Pittsburgh, he was traded to the Steelers and threw a total of 18 passes during his rookie year. Waived a game into the 1958 season, he caught on with the New York Giants and saw no action as a member of the taxi squad. Failing to catch on with Calgary of the CFL in ’59, he sat out the season and went back to college, but appeared to get another chance at the NFL with the 49ers before being declared ineligible due to his having signed earlier with the CFL. With the advent of the AFL in 1960, Kemp finally got his chance with the Los Angeles Chargers and led the league in passing while throwing for 3018 yards and 20 TDs (along with 25 interceptions) and a league-leading 7.4 yards per attempt. The Chargers won the Western Division and he was named All-AFL. The Chargers moved to San Diego for ’61 and repeated as division champs while Kemp was selected to the AFL All-Star Game. A finger injury suffered during the 1962 season caused him to be waived by the Chargers in an attempt to save a roster spot, but he was claimed by several clubs and awarded to the Buffalo Bills. Kemp was an AFL All-Star in 1963 and ’64 and the team tied for the Eastern Division title in ’63, losing to the Patriots in the resulting playoff, and then won the AFL Championship in 1964. Highly mobile and quick to take off from the pocket, Kemp also had a strong arm, good leadership skills, and was tough, playing through injuries throughout his career, although also prone to throwing interceptions.

1965 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 391 [3]
Most attempts, game – 49 at Denver 9/19
Completions – 179 [2]
Most completions, game – 22 vs. NY Jets 9/26, vs. Kansas City 12/12
Yards – 2368 [4]
Most yards, game – 295 vs. Kansas City 12/12
Completion percentage – 45.8 [5]
Yards per attempt – 6.1 [5]
TD passes – 10 [7]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Kansas City 12/12
Interceptions – 18 [4]
Most interceptions, game – 2 on 7 occasions
Passer rating – 54.8 [6]
200-yard passing games – 6

Attempts – 36
Most attempts, game - 6 (for 5 yds.) vs. NY Jets 9/26
Yards – 49
Most yards, game – 20 yards (on 4 carries) at Oakland 11/14
Yards per attempt – 1.4
TDs – 4 [9, tied with Matt Snell, Billy Joe & Pete Beathard]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 1
Yards – -9
TDs - 0

TDs – 4
Points – 24

Postseason: 1 G (AFL Championship at San Diego)
Pass attempts – 19
Pass completions – 8
Passing yards – 155
TD passes – 1
Interceptions – 1

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

Bills went 10-3-1 to finish first in the Eastern Division. Won AFL Championship over San Diego Chargers (23-0).

The Bills won a third straight Eastern Division title in 1966, and Kemp was again an AFL All-Star, but the team lost to Kansas City in the league title game. The club declined quickly thereafter, and Kemp missed all of 1968 with a knee injury. He came back for one last year in ’69 before retiring to go into politics. Overall, for his pro career he passed for 21,218 yards with 114 TDs and 183 interceptions, but while he tossed more interceptions than touchdowns in every season of his career, the statistics didn’t tell the whole story as he was also successful with a 65-37-3 record as a starter, compiling two AFL championships, six AFL All-Star Game selections and two All-AFL selections. He went on to a long second career as a Congressman, cabinet member, and Vice Presidential nominee. His son Jeff became a quarterback in the NFL.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/8/14]