May 15, 2017

Highlighted Year: Billy Cannon, 1967

Tight End, Oakland Raiders

Age: 30
8th season in pro football, 4th with Oilers
College: LSU
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 215

Cannon was a star all-purpose halfback in college who rushed for 1867 yards while averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry, caught 31 passes for 522 yards, and scored 21 touchdowns. He was a two-time consensus first-team All-American and winner of the 1959 Heisman Trophy, following a season in which he also returned a punt 89 yards to key a LSU win against Mississippi. Cannon was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams as the first overall pick of the 1960 NFL draft, but signed with both the Rams and Oilers of the new AFL. A judge’s decision awarded him to the Oilers and he had a fair rookie season, rushing for a team-leading 644 yards and scoring a touchdown in the AFL Championship game on an 88-yard pass play. He was a second-team All-AFL selection by the league. Cannon followed up in 1961 by leading the AFL in rushing (948 yards) and all-pupose yardage (2043) and he capped the year by scoring the only touchdown in Houston’s league title game win over the Chargers. Cannon suffered a back injury that limited his effectiveness in 1962, holding him to 474 rushing yards although he still caught 32 passes for 451 yards and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. He saw little action in an injury-plagued 1963 season and was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he was tried at fullback with some success before being shifted to tight end in 1965. Cannon caught only 21 passes combined in his first two seasons at the new position.

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

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 32
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 99 yds.) vs. Miami 11/19
Yards – 629 [13]
Most yards, game – 114 (on 4 catches) vs. Boston 9/17
Average gain – 19.7 [3]
TDs – 10 [3, tied with Don Maynard & Willie Frazier]
100-yard receiving games – 1

TDs – 10 [4, tied with Don Maynard, Willie Frazier & Mike Garrett]
Points – 60 [12, tied with Willie Frazier & Mike Garrett]

Postseason: 2 G
Pass receptions – 4
Most pass receptions, game – 2 vs. Houston, AFL Championship; vs. Green Bay, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards – 56
Most pass receiving yards, game – 31 vs. Houston, AFL Championship
Average yards per reception – 14.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-AFL: AP, UPI
2nd team All-AFL: NY Daily News, Sporting News

Raiders went 13-1 to finish first in the AFL Western Division while leading the league in scoring (466 points) and TDs (68). Won AFL Championship over Houston Oilers (40-7). Lost Super Bowl to Green Bay Packers (33-14).

Cannon spent two more years with the Raiders and was an AFL All-Star in 1969. He spent one last year with Kansas City as a backup in 1970. Altogether, he rushed for 2455 yards on 602 carries (4.1 avg.) with 17 TDs and caught 236 passes for 3656 yards (15.5 avg.) and 47 touchdowns. Cannon was a consensus first-team All-AFL selection after one season, received some first- or second-team recognition after three other seasons, and was chosen to two AFL All-Star Games. His son Billy Jr. played linebacker for the Cowboys for one year.


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)