January 19, 2016

Highlighted Year: Adrian Burk, 1954

Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles


Age: 27 (Dec. 14)
5th season in pro football, 4th with Eagles
College: Baylor
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 190

Prelude:
Burk was an All-Southwest Conference selection in 1949, noted for both his play at quarterback and as a punter. He was chosen in the first round of the 1950 NFL draft (second overall) by the Baltimore Colts. Backing up QB Y.A. Tittle with a poor team, he completed just 36.1 percent of his passes and also handled the punting, averaging 40.0 yards on a league-leading 81 punts. Upon the dissolution of the franchise, he moved on to the Eagles in ’51 and stepped into the starting job vacated by the retired Tommy Thompson, throwing 14 TD passes but also giving up a NFL-high 23 interceptions. Burk had a good arm but tended to throw into traffic and was a low-key leader. With the arrival of QB Bobby Thomason in 1952, the two shared the starting job, an arrangement that lasted for the next five years. Burk started a total of seven games in 1952 and ’53, passing for 1349 yards and eight TDs with 14 interceptions. He continued to handle the punting and averaged 41.1 yards on 124 punts during that period.

1954 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 231 [9]
Completions – 123 [8]
Yards – 1740 [8]
Most yards, game – 345 vs. Washington 11/28
Completion percentage – 53.2 [8]
Yards per attempt – 7.5 [5]
TD passes – 23 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 7 at Washington 10/17 (tied NFL record)
Interceptions – 17 [5, tied with four others]
Passer rating – 80.4 [1]

Rushing
Attempts – 15
Yards – 18
Yards per attempt – 1.2
TDs – 0

Punting
Punts – 73 [1]
Yards – 2918 [2]
Average – 40.0 [9]
Punts blocked – 0
Longest punt – 58 yards

Awards & Honors:
Pro Bowl

Eagles went 7-4-1 to finish second in the NFL Eastern Conference while leading the league in touchdown passes (33).

Aftermath:
Burk’s numbers dropped to 9 TD passes and 17 interceptions in 1955 while he averaged 42.9 yards on 61 punts and he was again selected for the Pro Bowl. He saw significantly less action in ’56 after which he retired to pursue a legal career. Overall, Burk passed for 7001 yards and 61 touchdowns with 89 interceptions and punted 474 times for a 40.9-yard average. He was twice selected for the Pro Bowl. Burk became an assistant to owner Bud Adams upon the formation of the AFL’s Houston Oilers franchise in 1960. He later went on to become a NFL game official and worked the 1969 contest in which Minnesota QB Joe Kapp tied the single-game record that Burk shared with three others (prior to that point) with seven TD passes. Burk also was the back judge who made the call on the “Immaculate Reception” for the Steelers against the Raiders in the AFC Divisional playoff game following the 1972 season.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

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