Wednesday, July 30, 2014

1965 Profile: Tom Sestak

Defensive Tackle
No. 70
McNeese State
"Hardly anybody will argue the point. Tom Sestak is the greatest defensive tackle in the AFL - and maybe the NFL, as well.
He's a scout's dream-come-true, a small-college sleeper. Tom played for tiny McNeese State and was drafted 17th by the Bills back in 1961.
He's a 6-4, 270-pounder with the disposition and reflexes of a mountain lion. He runs so fast that enemy quarterbacks can't get out of his way, and he knocks down ball-carriers as if he were swatting flies."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1965

"'Tom Sestak is the best defensive tackle in the AFL,' flatly states head coach Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders. There was must be plenty of football men who agree with Davis because Sestak was on virtually everyone's All-AFL team last season. The 6'4", 270-pound Texan is another example of the unpublicized college player who rises to the top in the competitive world of pro football - where campus headliners often fall by the wayside.
Sestak was spotted by Harvey Johnson, Buffalo's director of player personnel in 1961 when Tom was a senior at little McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Johnson was favorably impressed by the big youngster, but the Bills took their time before drafting him in the 17th round. Admits Johnson: 'Sure, he looked like a good prospect, but nothing like he's turned out to be.'
The defensive tackle was Buffalo's outstanding rookie in 1962 and made the All-AFL second team. Despite breaking a rib in an early 1963 exhibition game against Kansas City, Tom came back in time for the season's opener against San Diego, averaged nine unassisted tackles per game and made every important All-AFL team. Last season he anchored Buffalo's superb defensive forward wall, which included such stalwarts as Tom Day, Jim Dunaway and Roland McDole, as the team ran away with the Eastern Division title. Playing against the San Diego Chargers in the championship game, Sestak was a key member of a three-man rush that harried veteran quarterback Tobin Rote all afternoon and helped the Bills to a 20-7 victory.
Sestak's will to win also rubs off on his teammates.
'You work against Tom in practice every day and you either improve or retire,' says All-AFL guard Billy Shaw. Rival coach Sid Gilman of the Chargers just about sums it up when he calls the 29-year-old native of Gonzales, Texas 'a great football player.'"

-Bill Wise, 1965 Official Pro Football Almanac

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1965 Profile: Lou Saban

Head Coach
"Although he won his first American Football League title with the Bills last year, Lou Saban in accustomed to victory. As a 200-pound linebacker and captain of the Cleveland Browns, he played on four championship teams.
He later coached at Case Institute, Northwestern, Western Illinois and the Boston Patriots before coming to the Bills as director of player personnel in 1961. The following year he succeeded Buster Ramsey as head coach.
He's known for his emphasis on line play and on a strong rushing game. He's also known for his courage and firmness, which was particularly was illustrated last season when he disciplined his bread-and-butter man, Cookie Gilchrist."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1965

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1965 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"While nobody is saying that the Bills are about to start fading like the Buffalo nickel, they are going to rub against some stronger opposition being minted in the league this season. If they fail to repeat in '65, don't cash them in. Credit it to a stronger AFL foundation.
The same wrecking crew that powered the Bills to the Eastern Division crown and to the championship victory over the San Diego Chargers is back, practically man for man. Stew Barber, Billy Shaw, Walt Cudzik, Al Bemiller and Dick Hudson - from tackle to tackle - last year helped Buffalo ball-carriers carve out 1,945 yards through enemy lines, which was the most powerful rushing demonstration in the league.
The backfield, which had domestic problems as well as medical ones, is loaded for power - if not blinding speed - and the Bills are starting the season with both problems apparently solved. The domestic one was taken care of when they traded Cookie Gilchrist, the two-time ground-gaining champion, to the Denver Broncos in exchange for fullback Billy Joe. Billy is just as big as Cookie is, and is six years younger and much faster in the open field.
He will be spotted in Gilchrist's old running spot, and with that big, mobile line moving out in front of him, he is given an excellent chance of developing into a 1,000-yard man. If Joe makes it then beefy Wray Carlton will remain at halfback, which brings us to the hospital problem. Last year Carlton was out of action until the Bills' final three games, and then he came back strong. He's built more like a fullback - where he would play in the absence of a good one - and he is not a speedster; but according to quarterback Jack Kemp, he's 'as good a blocker as Cookie and a damned underestimated runner.'
Behind Carlton are good runners, too, in Bob Smith and Joe Auer, both with good freshman years behind them. Smith has great outside speed; Auer is more of a slasher. The aforementioned Kemp guides the attack with his great savvy and even greater arm. When things bog down, Daryle Lamonica comes in, and while he can't throw with Kemp, he provides a greater running threat. Coach Lou Saban has indicated that he intends to use them both the same way this season.
When Kemp goes to the air, he has as fine a flanker to throw to as there is in the business in Elbert Dubenion, and there are also excellent targets among split ends Glenn Bass and Bill Groman, and in tight end Ernie Warlick.
The defense, which was also the best in the league last year, is better up close. The front foursome of Ron McDole, Jim Dunaway, Tom Sestak and Tom Day surrendered an average of 68 rushing yard a game. Dud Meredith and Tom Keating are prime backup men. The linebacking, which was a cause of some concern before last season, shaped up magnificently with John Tracey, Harry Jacobs and the menacing Mike Stratton. This year they'll be supported by Marty Schottenheimer, a rookie from Pitt, Herb Paterra, from the taxi squad and by Paul McGuire, obtained on waivers from San Diego.
The Bills are most vulnerable in the deep backfield, where their operatives are relatively small. They were probably saved some embarrassments last year by the strong rushing up front. The cornermen are Butch Byrd and Charley Warner, and the safetymen are George Saimes and Gene Sykes. Anybody looking for a job with the Bills can start shopping here first."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1965

"Now that the brutal Bills finally have won the AFL title, they can be counted on to hang to it with the tenacity of a tiger guarding its prey.
If coach Lou Saban has any real concern, it's over whether Billy Joe can perform in the grand style of Cookie Gilchrist, for whom he was traded.
Even if Billy - Rookie of the Year in 1963 - doesn't cut it, there are other possibilities. Wray Carlton, a 220-pound halfback who returned to action late in '64 after an injury, could go just as well as a fullback. In this case Saban would have such halfbacks as sophomores Bob Smith, a speedster, and Joe Auer, a slasher, both over 200 pounds, as is Willie Ross, Cookie's understudy last season. Bob Currington, who taxied last year, could move ahead of everyone - he's got bulk, blazing speed and more moves than the other backs.
But it's the line that keeps the opposition in the real bind, and gives the Bills the all-important ball control when the clock must be eaten. There's no tougher left side than that manned by tackle Stew Barber and Bill Shaw, all-league guard again in '64. Al Bemiller and Dick Hudson are about as effective on the other side. To back them up, the Bills signed their top two draft choices, Ohio State's Jim Davidson and Villanova's Al Atkinson. And Dave Behrman (6'5", 260), No. 1 draft choice of '62, is assured of some spot in this forward wall.
Monsters stalk the defensive line. Particularly terrifying are the defensive tackles, Tom Sestak (272), All-AFL the past three years, and Jim Dunaway (276). Tom Day and Ron McDole are dogged pass rushers and should improve with competition from Remi Prudhomme from LSU.
The linebacking, off in '63, came on strong last year under the revived play of John Tracey and Harry Jacobs, who improved his pass protection. And Mike Stratton made the all-league team.
Buffalo has had little use for the pass. Still, it has the strongest arm in football in Jack Kemp, who can always strike effectively when points are needed; they seldom are. His substitute, Daryle Lamonica, gives Saban a fourth running back.
If you must find a chink in this armor, it could be the age (33) of Ernie Warlick at tight end."

-Bill Wise, 1965 Official Pro Football Almanac

THE PROSPECTS
"The Buffalo Bills thundered to the best record in pro football - then gave up on 'thunder.' Or at least that part of it personified by rumbling, grumbling fullback Cookie Gilchrist. He was traded to Denver for Billy Joe, a back of Gilchristian proportions (6-2, 250). Joe was Rookie of the Year in '63 and is six years younger than Cookie. The latter fact might not interest most coaches, but Buffalo coach Lou Saban is more fortunate.
He has a host of hulking linemen, led by All-Star Stew Barber and Billy Shaw (offense) and Tom Sestak (defense); a pair of spectacular receivers in Elbert Dubenion (10 TDs) and Glenn Bass (7 TDs, including one of 94 yards); a consistent and powerful, if unorthodox, place-kicker in Pete Gogolak; and a pair of hot quarterbacks he uses like pitchers - Jackie Kemp (starting) and Daryle Lamonica (relief).
If there is a weakness, it is in the defensive secondary, but some claim this is a bad rap; the Bill defensive line is so strong (allowing an average of only 65 yards per game) that the secondary sees more action than most.
Toss in a good rookie crop, including the Bills' first two draft picks, and perhaps Buffalo can afford to lose a Cookie Gilchrist. Certainly, no other team in the AFL can."

-Tom Harmon, 1965 Pro Football Almanac (Tom Harmon's Sports Information Book)

THE STARS
"The above are enough big names for any club, but the list hardly scratches the Herd's hide.
Defensively, linebacker Mike Stratton and safety George Saimes were All-AFL picks last year, while cornerback Butch Byrd's rookie season indicated he will soon be in the same class.
On offense, the Bills' running game, a key factor in their ball control ability, will depend a great deal on Joe. However, the load will not be his alone. Late last season Wray Carlton, a big halfback, came off the injured list to run and block with authority.
The key position, of course, is quarterback. Saban went with Kemp in the crucial final games of last season and Jackie came through with firm, consistent performances (267 attempts, 199 completions). At 29, he should be near his peak and one of the best in the game."

-Tom Harmon, 1965 Football Almanac (Tom Harmon's Sports Information Book)


Sunday, July 6, 2014

1964 Profile: Billy Shaw

Guard
No. 66
Georgia Tech
"Another All-AFL selection, guard Billy Shaw is in only his fourth pro season. Considered one of the best players in football at pulling out of the line to lead a running play, he's a body guard for Gilchrist on many a play.
Out of Georgia Tech, he's big (at 6-3, 250) but fast and many AFL observers claim he's the equal of Jerry Kramer of the Packers, considered to be the NFL's best guard. He figures to be an anchorman of the Bills' offense for the next decade."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"King of all the AFL guards is Billy Shaw, the Natchez nugget who is the most pulverizing of pullers coming out of the line. Opposing tackles and ends are aware of his quick and explosive blocking techniques and admit that he doesn't stop after making just one block.
The Bill captain was one of the most feared at Georgia Tech as an all-time Engineer on defense and offense. A second All-AFL choice in '62, he was a unanimous selection last season, one in which he was considered to be approaching the vast potential his coaches claim he has in abundance."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Daryle Lamonica

Quarterback
No. 12
Notre Dame
"Ready to take over at quarterback on a moment's notice, Daryle Lamonica starts his second AFL season. As a rookie, he completed 33 of 71 passes for three touchdowns as a solid backup man for Kemp last season.
Out of Notre Dame, he's a pureblood AFL player who spurned the NFL to sign with the Bills. His performance in training camp a year ago prompted the Bills to carry him ahead of veteran Warren Rabb. He looms as a solid pro quarterback for the Bills for years to come."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"More action is planned for Daryle Lamonica this season. The flinger from Fresno, California, a '63 rookie who passed up a Green Bay offer, was the No. 2 quarterback and an able replacement for Jackie Kemp. He connected on 33 of 71 for 437 yards and had four forwards intercepted.
His arm is so strong that he can throw 40-yarders on a line. Not the scrambler that Kemp is, he prefers to get rid of the ball instead of taking a chance, although he does have the speed and poise to do well as a ball carrier."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Jack Kemp

Quarterback
No. 15
Occidental
"Anxious to restore himself to the status of a championship quarterback, Jack Kemp begins his second full season with the Bills.
He's considered a strong, accurate passer. He was the third-ranking AFL passer last season with 194 completions in 384 attempts and 20 touchdowns.
He came to the Bills early in the 1962 season after the Chargers put him on the disabled list. The Bills snapped him up on a waiver technicality.
Out of Occidental College, he led the Chargers to the Western title in both 1960 and 1961."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"For a fellow who was third-best at his trade of passing in '63, the season was not particularly bright for Jackie Kemp despite his second-team AFL rating at quarterback. Perhaps too much had been expected of a fellow who'd been All-AFL two years and was the top passer in 1960 with the Chargers. A damaged finger on his throwing hand caused him to miss eight games in '62 after he was traded to Buffalo.
Born in Los Angeles, he's a newspaper columnist and public relations representative between seasons.
Considered to have the strongest throwing arm of all passers, he hit 194 times in 384 attempts for 2,914 yards last year, being outgained only by George Blanda."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Ed Rutkowski

Halfback
No. 40
Notre Dame
"If the Bills fail to find a runner to complement Cookie Gilchrist, look for Ed Rutkowski to help out again in an offensive role.
Born in Kingston, Pennsylvania, he was an unwanted rookie in '63 until the Bills took him on as a free agent with the idea that a club can never have too many defensive backs. Before long, however, he went to the offense as a runner and receiver when Roger Kochman was injured, and sparkled in a position he hadn't played since high school.
Ed gained 408 yards as a rusher and a receiver; his eventual '64 position will be determined after the club shapes up in exhibition play."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Mike Stratton

Linebacker
No. 58
Tennessee
"It was rather obvious that the Bills' short defense was not at its best during a four-game period last year when Mike Stratton had to miss action. A linebacker on the right side, the violent tackler from Vonore, Tennessee helped the runners keep their assaults to a minimum and the passers seldom bothered to test his very sharp reactions and were content to concentrate on probing other areas of the Bill defense.
He was considered an offensive end when drafted in '62 but he was too promising a defender."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Bill Miller

Split End
No. 81
Miami
"Holder of the Bill record for most pass receptions in a season, Bill Miller hopes to set a new mark in his second season. Until injured late last year, he was leading the league in pass catching but still finished with a club record of 69, fourth in the AFL, for 860 yards and three touchdowns.
Out of the University of Miami (Florida), he was an All-America selection as George Mira's favorite pass receiver. With good speed and good moves, he appears to have all the requirements necessary for stardom."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"An ankle injury in '63 might have kept Bill Miller from leading the AFL in pass receiving. He was first in the reception tables when forced from the lineup but still managed to finish No. 4 in the loop with 69 catches, good for 860 yards.
Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, he spent '62 with the Texans as a flanker and didn't sparkle until moved to split end at Buffalo.
An All-AFL linebacker says Miller's moves are 'out of this world for a guy with such limited experience. He fakes with all parts of his body and uses his speed so well by never showing just how quick he can really move.'"

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Jim Dunaway

Defensive Tackle
No. 78
Mississippi
"Another gigantic defensive tackle, Jim Dunaway hopes to improve in his second season with the Bills. Tough, aggressive, he was the team's No. 1 draft choice in 1962 when they outbid the NFL Vikings. According to coach Saban, he only fault was 'a tendency to be overly aggressive and thus vulnerable to the trap.'
Out of Ole Miss, where he was All-America, he looms as a solid star for years to come. He and Sestak form one of the strongest pairs of defensive tackles in the game."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"The best of the '61 collegiate linemen was Jimmy Dunaway, who won a starting berth at defensive tackle last year with more than just a reputation. He tried so hard that his aggressiveness proved to be his only defect when he discovered how easily he was being led into traps. Nobody doubts his desire and his additional experience must make him a better performer. A runner, often being assaulted by Dunaway, said, 'I hope he's told that he's made the team. He plays as if he expects to be released if his tackles don't make noise.'
Dunaway was born in Columbia, Mississippi."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Elbert Dubenion

Flanker
No. 44
Bluffton
"Clever, consistent, regarded as perhaps the swiftest pass catcher in the AFL, Elbert Dubenion continues to improve his techniques. He caught 55 passes last season for 974 yards and nine touchdowns, not including a 93-yard touchdown pass play in the Eastern Division playoff game with the Patriots.
Out of Bluffton College, he's starting his fifth season. In 1962 he was top Bill pass catcher with 33 for 571 yards in an attack which relied mostly on the ground game."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"Old 'Golden Wheels' Elbert Dubenion had his finest year as a flanker and set a personal high as a pass receiver by taking 55 passes for a club-leading total of 974 yards. His presence in the lineup relieved some of the season-long pressure on Cookie Gilchrist because no opponent could afford to draw in its defenses with Elbert spreading out to the side.
Born in Griffin, Georgia, he has enough speed to panic defenders and he's also rather effective as a blocker when plays are sent around his flank.
In college he scored an incredible total of 57 touchdowns."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Stew Barber

Offensive Tackle
No. 77
Penn State
"Now in his third AFL season, offensive tackle Stew Barber is recognized as one of the premier players at his position in pro football. He was selected All-AFL by both wire-service polls last season, a remarkable honor for a second-year man.
Big and fast, he provides excellent pass blocking protection for Bill quarterbacks. He's also a terror at clearing the way for Cookie Gilchrist and the other Bill runners.
Out of Penn State, he looms as a star for years and years to come."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"The most improved lineman of '63 was the 248-pound captain, Stew Barber, who worked himself into an All-AFL berth with an exceptional performance at offensive tackle. Considered a better blocker on passes than runs, he was a linebacker in '61, moving to offense in '62.
Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, he was a No. 4 draft pick as a 228-pound linebacker. During this fall's pre-season training drills he'll be asked to shoulder more pull-out blocking assignments in order to give the club more running speed to the outside.
An opposing tackle who spent a long afternoon tying to get by Stew said: 'I've never been knocked out of the play by so many different types of blocks. That man must have a warehouse full of'em.'"

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Tom Sestak

Defensive Tackle
No. 70
McNeese State
"Touted by coach Lou Saban as 'the finest defensive tackle in pro football,' Tom Sestak is the strong man of the Bills' defensive unit. At 6-4 and 270, he's one of the biggest players at his position in pro football. Fast and tough, he's a fierce pass rusher and is strong enough to pile up opposing runners.
Out of McNeese State, he was a small-college star before joining the Bills in 1962 and producing one of the most amazing rookie seasons in pro football history."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"Drafted as a tight end in '62, Tom Sestak walked into Bills' camp and soon proved that nobody on the premises played better at defensive tackle.
Last year he demonstrated that nobody in the league was in his class for fury and meanness, and he was an All-AFL choice after a season in which every opponent constantly praised his strong position tactics, excellence of play reading and admirable power at holding his own when stacked up against two blockers. One of the few around who can harness a rusher without requiring assistance, he makes more unassisted tackles than any front line defender.
Born in Gonzales, Texas, he was a second-team All-AFL tackle as a '62 rookie."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

1964 Profile: Leroy Jackson

Halfback
No. 22
Western Illinois
"Obtained in the off-season, halfback Leroy Jackson looms as a possible running threat to compliment inside blaster Cookie Gilchrist. He's out of Western Illinois, where he played for Lou Saban. This was the reason Saban was so anxious to obtain him following his release by the Washington Redskins.
Jackson was originally drafted by the NFL Browns but was traded, along with Bobby Mitchell, to the 'Skins in the deal for the late Ernie Davis.
Big and fast, he could be a big star."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

1964 Profile: Wray Carlton

Halfback
No. 30
Duke
"Sidelined by injuries virtually all of last season, Wray Carlton hopes to regain his running stride this year. He carried the ball only 29 times for 125 yards. His absence put pressure on Gilchrist, when Cookie was healthy, and put extra pressure on the passing attack since opposing teams could stack their defenses.
Out of Duke, he's going into his fifth AFL season.
With Gilchrist (240) and Carlton (230), the Bills own the biggest pair of running backs in all of pro football."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1964 Profile: Cookie Gilchrist

Fullback
No. 34
"Regarded as one of the best running backs in pro football, Cookie Gilchrist will be trying to regain the AFL ball-carrying title this season. Hobbled by injuries, he gained 979 yards - about 700 of them in the final six games, including a one-game pro record of 243. In 1962 he led the AFL with 1,096 yards. Since coming to the Bills from Canada, his two-season total is 2,063 - the best in the league.
One of the most colorful players in pro football, he has amazing speed for his 6-2, 240-pound size."

-Dave Anderson, Pro Football Handbook 1964

"Cookie Gilchrist was not shy in telling of his disenchantment as a Bill prior to pre-season drills and he expressed a desire to be traded. Off his '63 figures, he had nothing to be ashamed of, particularly when it was known that he was working with an ankle injury most of the year and had little running help to relieve some of the rushing pressure.
Born in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, he made his fabulous reputation in the Canadian League, then broke eight records as an AFL freshman in '62 when he was voted the circuit's most valuable player. Last year he set a one-game mark for rushing (243 yards) and tied the record for touchdowns (5) as he surged late in the year to compile 979 yards for the No. 3 running rating."

-Don Schiffer, Pro Football 1964

"Carlton Chester (Cookie) Gilchrist of the Buffalo Bills has been eating up yardage as a pro football back since he was 19. Just out of Brackenridge (Pennsylvania) High School, the precocious Cookie received a trial and a bonus from the Cleveland Browns.
'I was awfully green and they sent me to Canada to gain more experience,' Cookie recalls. That was back in 1954; a few years later Cleveland came up with Jimmy Brown and decided to forget about the brawny youngster they had shipped to Canada.
Meanwhile Cookie was moving from team to team and had gained the reputation of being a troublemaker.
'I enjoyed Canadian ball,' he explains, 'but I had to battle all the time for the money I felt my play rated. That's where the 'hard to handle' talk about me originated.'
Gilchrist moved from Kitchener to Hamilton to Regina and on to Toronto. On one occasion he took on the entire opposition bench. Another time he took a swing at a teammate while in a huddle.
The 6'2", 243-pound fullback signed with Buffalo in 1962. He was an unknown name to virtually all U.S. pro football fans but he didn't remain unknown for long. By the end of the season, he had gained 1,096 yards in 214 attempts, scored 15 touchdowns, kicked eight field goals and was named the most valuable player in the AFL by UPI and AP. Cookie was rewarded with a two-year contract calling for $30,000 per season.
Last year the 29-year-old Gilchrist dropped from first to third in rushing but still managed to gain 979 yards in 232 attempts and scored 14 touchdowns. It was quite a showing for a guy who played most of the season with an injured ankle and bruised ribs.
Gilchrist, who is bigger than most men who try to tackle him, admits he enjoys the rough and tumble world of pro football.
'But maybe,' he muses, 'I should learn how to juke (fake) those defenders.'"

-Bill Wise, 1964 Official Pro Football Almanac