Alworth: Best team I played on wasn’t a Super Bowl champ


(Photos courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)

Talk of Fame Network

Lance Alworth was more than one of pro football’s greatest wide receivers. He was a Super Bowl champion, scoring the first touchdown of Super Bowl VI in Dallas’ 24-3 defeat of Miami.

The Cowboys were the best pro football had to offer then. But, according to Alworth, they weren’t the best club he played on. The 1963 San Diego Chargers were, and if you don’t remember them maybe this helps: They walloped the then-Boston Patriots 51-10 in that year’s AFL championship game.

“Honestly,” Alworth told The Talk of Fame Network on its latest broadcast, “the best team I played on was the ‘63 Chargers. They had a great offense – with Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln, some great linemen with Ron Mix – and we had great defenses, with probably two of the biggest guys in the league at that time (Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison) … not only big but very active. It was the best team I played on.”

Earlier in the broadcast, former Patriots’ star Gino Cappelletti said he believed those Chargers would have pushed NFL champion Chicago had the two met — which, of course, they did not. It wasn’t until January, 1967, when Green Bay played Kansas City in the first Super Bowl that the two leagues converged. Nevertheless, like Cappelletti, Alworth is convinced San Diego would not have been outclassed had the Chargers and Bears played.

“I would say we would’ve been competitive,” he said. “We always were wanting to challenge them, but nobody would play us at the time. We’ll never really know. But I feel like we would’ve held our own, I guarantee you that.”

John Hadl quarterbacked the ’63 Bolts, and when Alworth was asked to choose one player for the Hall of Fame who is not already in, he nominated Hadl — with former Kansas City safety Johnny Robinson a close second.

“Everywhere John went he won,” he said, “and he is probably in the top five or six, if you look at all the stats. He didn’t win a Super Bowl, but he won everything else. He was a tremendous football player and leader. He’s just a guy I felt has been overlooked.

“Johnny Robinson was the same way. You locked your jock when you went across the middle with him. When you go across the middle, if you go get the ball normally a defensive back will give you a split second to catch it. If you go up to get, it there’s a split second he hesitates and lets you get it.

“There are few people who don’t, and Johnny Robinson was one of those who didn’t. He just went right through you. He had my respect, and I think his record shows that he deserves some recognition. He was a great ballplayer.”


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  1. Rasputin
    August 31, 2015

    The 1971 Cowboys were one of the greatest teams in NFL history and would have annihilated the 1963 Chargers, probably by an even bigger margin than the Packers obliterated the 1966 Chiefs and 1967
    Raiders. The AFL had only been in existence 4 years so the Chargers were still a recent expansion team playing against other recent expansion teams. They were still years away from even being competitive with the top NFL teams.

    Alworth is just trying to show his old team some respect that he feels they don’t get enough of, but his statement is ridiculous. Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison?!? How about Bob Lilly (HoF; 75th Anniversary NFL team; arguably the greatest DT of all time), Mel Renfro (HoF; 10 consecutive Pro Bowls), Herb Adderlay (HoF), Chuck Howley (5 AP first team All Pros and 6 Pro Bowls spread out over 7 accolade seasons; SB MVP; should be in the HoF), Cliff Harris (first team All Decade; 6 Pro Bowls; 3 first team All Pros; should be in HoF), Lee Roy Jordan (became franchise tackle leader; 5 Pro Bowls; extremely tough, hard hitter who also remains tied for 3rd among NFL LBs in career interceptions), Cornell Green (5 Pro Bowls), and George Andrie (5 Pro Bowls)? The Dallas D was called “Doomsday” for a reason. The Chargers’ starting CBs were a couple of guys named Bud Whitehead (0 Pro Bowls) and Dick Harris (1 Pro Bowl). No, I’ll stick with the Cowboys’ HoF tandem of Renfro and Adderlay, thank you very much. And the LB crew of Chuck Allen, Emil Karas, and Paul Maguire don’t stack up well against the Cowboys’ Jordan, Howley, and Edwards either, an aggressive crew that flew around the field making play after play. Safeties? The Chargers’ Gary Glick (0 Pro Bowls) and George Blair (1 Pro Bowl) against the Cowboys’ Cliff Harris and Cornell Green. Hardly a tough call.

    The Chargers’ QB was Tobin Rote. Give me Roger Staubach (HoF; retired with the best career passer rating in NFL history and posted an NFL leading 104.8 passer rating for the 1971 season, which was insane for that era) any day. Lowe and Lincoln were pretty good, but the Cowboys’ great, versatile rushing attack featured a committee of Calvin Hill (first team All Pro as a rookie; 4 Pro Bowls), Duane Thomas (derailed his own career with bizarre behavior but was an exceptional talent who otherwise could have been a HoFer and who thrived in 1971), and the rugged Walt Garrison, who shattered the Super Bowl rushing record with 252 yards against the great Miami No Name defense.

    Heck, Alworth was only a distant #2 WR on the 1971 Cowboys, the #1 WR being Bob Hayes (HoF; the fastest real player in NFL history). TE Mike Ditka (HoF) helped too. Ron Mix was great but so was Cowboy OT Rayfield Wright (HoF), considered by many to be the greatest pass blocker in NFL history, Ralph Neely (1960s All Decade; injured halfway through the season), dominant G John Niland (6 Pro Bowls), and other Pro Bowl linemen. Even without counting Forrest Gregg (HoF), who was injured before the season, the Dallas offensive line was awesome.

    Then there are the coaches. Tom Landry was a better coach than Sid Gilman.

    The Cowboys averaged more points per game and allowed fewer points per game than the Chargers despite playing against vastly better competition than the 1963 AFL had to offer. The 1971 Cowboys remain the only team in Super Bowl history to not allow a single touchdown, and they accomplished that feat by demolishing a great Miami team (that would go undefeated the following season and that was also better than the 1963 Chargers) 24-3 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. In fact the Cowboys only allowed one touchdown in the entire playoffs, shutting its final two opponents out of the end zone.

    No, the best team Alworth ever played on was the 1971 Cowboys. Pretending otherwise distorts history and does a disservice to that great Dallas team that already doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

  2. Rasputin
    August 31, 2015

    That should read Herb Adderley

  3. Bob Thompson
    June 26, 2018

    Johnny Robinson was just endorsed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Lance Alworth on a video that Lance made June 2, 2018 and is currently circulating in social media such as Facebook. I’ve seen it several times and its posted on my Facebook page. He makes no mistake about who he would like to see as his 2019 Senior Candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He called Robinson the best that he ever played against. He also, wrote an endorsement calling Robinson the best safety that he had ever seen or has seen in the last fifty years. That is also posted on Facebook on Johnny Robinson’s page.
    Johnny Robinson Safety (1960-1972)
    7 First Team All Pros, 2 Second Team All Pros, 7 consecutive Pro Bowls
    3 AFL Championships, Super Bowl IV Championship (Played in Super Bowl I & IV)
    57 career interceptions which was Chiefs record at retirement. He only played defense 10 years at safety. That puts him in the elite of those in the Hall of Fame. First two years he was star running back. First year that he was moved to safety the team won the Championship. Chiefs were 35-1-1 when Robinson made an interception in the game. When he made an interception in the game the Chiefs never lost to the Raiders, Chargers, Jets, Patriots, Oilers, Broncos or Dolphins. He made interceptions in all three Championship and Super Bowl IV while playing that game with three broken ribs.
    Interception Leader of the Year 1966, 1970
    Five times interception leader of the Chiefs
    Pro Football Hall of Fame Combined Team of the Decade 1960s ( Now that Jerry Kramer was inducted it leaves only Robinson left not inducted from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Combined Team of the Decade 1960s.)
    Pro Football Hall of Fame AFL All-Time Team
    Pro Football Hall of Fame’s First All Pro Team
    Silver Anniversary Super Bowl Team
    All Time Super Bowl Team, Nominee
    Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame
    Kansas City Chiefs All-Time Team
    Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
    Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
    LSU Sports Hall of Fame
    LSU Team of the Century

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