July 14, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Bobby Burnett, 1966

Halfback, Buffalo Bills

Age:  23
College: Arkansas
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 208

A college tailback who rushed for 1282 yards, including 947 as a senior, Burnett was taken by the Bills in the fourth round of the 1966 AFL draft (as well as in the 10th round of the NFL draft by the Chicago Bears). While fast, he lacked experience as a blocker, but made a quick adjustment to the pro game and moved into the starting backfield.

1966 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 187 [3]
Most attempts, game – 27 (for 138 yds.) vs. San Diego 10/16
Yards – 766 [4]
Most yards, game – 138 yards (on 27 carries) vs. San Diego 10/16
Average gain – 4.1 [8]
TDs – 4 [10, tied with four others]
100-yard rushing games – 1

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 34 [18]          
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 54 yds.) vs. Boston 10/8, (for 25 yds.) at NY Jets 10/30
Yards – 419
Most yards, game – 82 (on 3 catches) at Oakland 11/24
Average gain – 12.3
TDs – 4 [13, tied with nine others]

TDs – 8 [11, tied with four others]
Points – 48 [20, tied with four others]

Postseason: 1 G (AFL Championship vs. Kansas City)
Rushing attempts – 3
Rushing yards – 6
Average gain rushing – 2.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Pass receptions – 6
Pass receiving yards – 127
Average yards per reception – 21.2
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
AFL Rookie of the Year: UPI
1st team All-AFL: NY Daily News
2nd team All-AFL: League, AP, NEA, UPI
AFL All-Star Game

Bills went 9-4-1 to finish first in the AFL Eastern Division. Lost AFL Championship to Kansas City Chiefs (31-7).

Burnett suffered cracked ribs during training camp in 1967 and then a major knee injury during a season in which he was limited to 96 rushing yards and 11 pass receptions. He was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals in the expansion draft for the 1968 season but, with his knee still in recovery, Burnett never played for them. He joined the Denver Broncos for 1969, lasted three games, and retired, with the knee injury having effectively ended his pro career after the outstanding rookie campaign. Beyond his rookie statistics, he gained just 105 yards on 50 carries (2.1 avg.) and caught 11 passes for 114 yards, scoring no further touchdowns.


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).