June 16, 2016

Highlighted Year: Tommy Casanova, 1976

Safety, Cincinnati Bengals

Age: 26
5th season in pro football & with Bengals
College: LSU
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 194

The versatile Casanova saw action on both offense and defense in college, as well as returning kicks, and despite injuries, he received consensus All-American honors as a defensive back in 1970 and ’71. Casanova was chosen by the Bengals in the second round of the 1972 NFL draft and moved directly into the starting lineup at free safety, intercepting five passes while also returning 30 punts for a 9.6-yard average that included a touchdown. He missed five games due to injury in ’73, although still intercepted four passes, but came back to gain a Pro Bowl selection in 1974. Casanova was shifted to strong safety in ’75 and received first-team All-AFC honors from the Associated Press.

1976 Season Summary
Appeared in 11 of 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 5 [17, tied with six others]
Most interceptions, game – 1 on five occasions
Int. return yards – 109 [9]
Most int. return yards, game – 33 (on 1 int.) vs. Green Bay 9/26
Int. TDs – 2 [2, tied with Prentice McCray, Jim Merlo & John Rowser]
Fumble recoveries – 1
Fumble recovery TDs – 1

Punt Returns
Returns – 10
Yards – 45
Average per return – 4.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 15 yards

TDs – 3
Points – 18

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP
2nd team All-NFL: PFWA, NEA
1st team All-AFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Bengals went 10-6 to finish second in the AFC Central while leading the conference in interceptions (26).

Casanova had another Pro Bowl season in 1977 but, having started medical school while playing football, he retired to complete his degree and go into medicine. Overall, Casanova started 65 games for the Bengals and intercepted 17 passes, two of which he ran back for touchdowns. He also scored on a fumble recovery. As a punt returner, he averaged 8.6 yards on 91 returns with one TD. He was a consensus first-team All-NFL choice once, received first- or second-team All-AFC recognition after three other seasons, and was chosen to three Pro Bowls. In addition to practicing medicine as an ophthalmologist, Casanova also went on to serve in the Louisiana state senate.


Highlighted Years features players who were 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