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1960: The AFL's
Unheralded All-Stars
2007 by American Football League Hall of Fame

       The American Football League didn't field an All-Star game after its first year, 1960.  Most references simply state that fact, and list no All-AFL players or AFL All-Stars for that year.  However The Sporting News, which always treated the AFL fairly, published an 'American Football League Guide' from 1960 through 1969.  Those 'Guides' included an AFL All-League Team each year, starting with 1960, when the selections were made by vote of  the AFL players themselves.  Below are the names of those 1960 AFL All-League players, comprising an 11-player offensive squad and an 11-player defensive squad.  No kickers or coaches were named.  Some of them are little-known, but many were true stars.  Regardless, they all deserve to be recognized as the first All-League players in a league that would forever change Pro Football. 
         Interestingly, in spite of the proclamations of the NFL-oriented media that the AFL did not achieve parity until after the "merger" and the common draft, there were two 1960 All-AFL players who were eventually named to the "pro football" Hall of Fame: the Chargers' Ron Mix and the Raiders' Jim Otto. Further, there were several who would be in the Hall of Fame if "fairness" were a concept understood by the selectors: Lionel Taylor, Jack Kemp, Paul Lowe, Abner Haynes, Sherrill Headrick, and Goose Gonsoulin.  Just as revealing are the names of some of the great American Football League players who didn't make that year's All-League team:  Johnny Robinson, Jim Hunt, Billy Cannon, Gino Cappelletti, Wayne Hawkins, and Hall of Famers Don Maynard and George Blanda.
          Another point that puts the lie to the claim that the early AFL was made up of "NFL rejects" is that fifteen of the twenty-two All-AFL players in 1960 were men with no previous pro football experience.
          The bottom line is that while the AFL, like any league, had its great teams and its poor teams, it had players who stole the fancy of a generation of football fans: players who would have been stars in any league.  Here then, are the men considered by their peers at that moment in time, Nineteen-Sixty, to be the best players in the American Football League. 

Card images are 1961 Topps and 1961 & 1962 Fleer cards from The Vintage Football Card Gallery
1961 cards were used because they usually show 1960 uniforms.


Bill Groman (End), from Heidelberg College, played professionally in the AFL from 1960 through 1962 for the Houston Oilers, where he was on the first two AFL Championship teams. He played for the Denver Broncos in 1963, and for the Buffalo Bills in 1964 and 1965, again with consecutive American Football League Championship teams. In his six years of pro football, he played on four AFL  championship teams, the only man to do so.  Groman had more yards receiving in a rookie year than any other player (1473 in 1960, when the season was 14 games long rather than the current 16).  He also had the most touchdowns receiving in his first 2 years (29: 12 in 1960 and 17 in 1961).

A so-called 'NFL reject', Lionel Taylor  (End) went from the Bears to the Denver Broncos of the AFL in 1960,  catching 92 passes for 1,235 yards and 12 tds, with an 80-yard td reception.  Second in all-time receptions (543) for the Broncos and their all-time leading yardage receiver (6,872), he was the team MVP in 1963, 1964 and 1965, and an AFL All-Star in 1961, 1962 and 1965.  He was the first  Pro Football receiver ever with 100 catches in one season (1961), in only 14 games. You have to wonder if the Bears had second thoughts!  Taylor had four seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving,  averaging 84.7 catches per year from 1960 to 1965, then the highest six-year total ever.  He was with the Oilers in 1967 and 1968. 

Rich Michael (Offensive Tackle) played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State.  With the Houston Oilers, in their first American Football League Championship year, he was an All-AFL offensive tackle.  He was on the Oilers second straight Championship team in 1961, and also made the AFL East All-Star team in 1962 and in his last year with the Oilers, 1966.

Ron Mix (Offensive Tackle), from USC, was an original Los Angeles Charger in 1960.  Because he had a law degree and was a physical player, he was nicknamed "The Intellectual Assassin".   Mix was called for only 2 holding penalties in his entire AFL career.  He was a factor in the Chargers' early domination of the AFL's Western Division, and helped the team win an AFL title in 1963, when they defeated the Boston Patriots.  Mix was elected to the All-AFL Team or the American Football League All-Star team for nine straight years, 1960 through 1968.  He was a unanimous choice to the AFL's All-Time Team, and is one of only twenty men who played the entire ten years of the AFL.

Billy Krisher (Offensive Guard) was selected as an All-America guard at Oklahoma University in 1956 and 1957.  He played for the AFL's Dallas Texans in 1960, and in 1961, his final year.

Bob Mischak (Offensive Guard), an All-American at Army, was a bright spot on the New York Titans' line, making All-AFL in both 1960 and 1961, and the AFL East All-Star team in 1962.

Mischak played for the Oakland Raiders from 1963 through 1965.

Jim Otto (Center) wasn't drafted by the NFL; no team in that league was interested in an undersized center, so he signed with the AFL's Oakland Raiders and was issued jersey number 50 for the AFL's inaugural season, 1960.  He switched to his familiar 00 the next year.  The unusual number was permitted by the AFL because it was a homonym pun of his name (aught-O). Otto worked diligently to build his body up to his playing weight of 250 pounds.  Otto never missed a single game due to injury though there were many of them.  He was one of only 20 men who played in the AFL for its entire 10-year run, and he was All-League every single year.  He is the center on the All-Time All-AFL Team.

Jack Kemp (Quarterback), from Occidental College, was the first 3,000 yard passer in the American Football League, with the Los Angeles Chargers, in 1960.  He led the LA team, and then the San Diego Chargers in the first two AFL Championship games in 1960 and 1961, before being picked up on waivers by the Buffalo Bills

Kemp led Buffalo to three straight Eastern Division titles and to two AFL championships, in 1964 and in 1965, when he was again the All-League quarterback and was selected as the AFL's MVP.   He was one of twenty who were in the AFL for 10 years, and he was an AFL All-Star in eight of the ten.

Paul Lowe (Halfback) of Oregon State gained 855 yards on 136 attempts for a 6.3 yds/carry average with the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960.  He was All-AFL and the AFL MVP in 1965 with 1,121 yards rushing (14-game schedule). He played in three AFL All-Star games and was selected as a halfback on the All-Time All-AFL Team. Lowe set a pro football record with six games gaining 100 or more yards on 14 or fewer carries. He has the AFL's all-time highest rushing average, at 4.89 yd/carry, and his career rushing total of 4,995 yards is second best all-time in the AFL.  With the Chargers from 1960 through 1968, he finished his career with the Chiefs and is  one of only 20 players who were in the AFL for all 10 years.

Abner Haynes (Halfback) in 1960 chose to play for the AFL's Dallas Texans and led the AFL in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs in its first year. Haynes helped launch the AFL in 1960, when he was the fledgling league's all-everything: its first Player of the Year, its first Rookie of the Year, and an All-League halfback. In 1960 he captured the AFL's 1st rushing crown with 875 yards, and also led the Texans in receiving, punt, and kickoff returns. He was All-AFL again in 1961 and 1963, and an AFL All-Star in 1962, when he and the Texans won the double-OT AFL Championship game vs. the Oilers.  He spent 3 years in Dallas, 2 with the subsequent KC Chiefs, and completed his career with the Broncos, Jets, and Dolphins.

Dave Smith (Fullback)  was a member of the AFL's first two Championship teams, in 1960 and 1961.  Smith's 154 carries for 643 yards and 5 touchdowns earned him a berth on the 1960 All-League Team.  He played with the Oilers through 1964.  Smith has been a scout for the Buffalo Bills from 1992 until the present (2007)



LaVerne Torczon (Defensive End), of the University of Nebraska was one of the Buffalo Bills' early defensive stars under head coach Buster Ramsey.  Torczon was All-AFL in 1960 and played on the AFL Eastern Division All-Star team in the AFL's first All-Star game after the 1961 season.  He also played with the Titans/Jets and ended his Pro Football career in 1966 with the Miami Dolphins.

Mel Branch (Defensive End) won the collegiiate national championship with the LSU Tigers in 1958.  He was All-AFL for the Dallas Texans in 1960, an AFL Western Division All-Star in 1961, 1962 and 1963, and on the Texans team that defeted the two-time defending AFL Champion Houston Oilers in the classic double-overtime 1962 AFL Championship game.

Bud McFadin  (Defensive Tackle), of the University of Texas, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.  In addition to being an All-AFL defensive tackle for the Denver Broncos in 1960, McFadin was selected for that honor in 1961 and 1962, and was an AFL Western Division All-Star in 1963.  In 1962, he scored a td on a 69-yard fumble return against the New York Titans, but it wasn't enough, as the Titans defeated the Broncos 46-45!

McFadin was traded to the Houston Oilers for quarterback Jacky Lee and ended his career with Houston, playing there in 1964 and 1965.

Volney Peters (Defensive Tackle) played only one year for the Los Angeles Chargers, but he made the All-AFL team in 1960.  He was traded to the Oakland Raiders and played his final year, 1961 with Oakland.

Sherrill Headrick (Linebacker) left TCU after 3 seasons and played at OG, C, and LB in the CFL in 1959.  His nickname 'Psycho' fit his play: with the Dallas Texans, 'Head' set standards for playing hurt after breaking a vertebra in his neck in a warm-up collision, before an Oilers game.  He played the  game, learned of the injury five days later, but played the following week.  All-AFL in 1960, and an AFL All-Star  in '61, '62, '65 and '66.  He had 14 interceptions during his 8-year Texans/Chiefs career, returning 3 for tds.  He played in the 1962 and 1966 AFL title game wins, and in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game He was picked by the Bengals in the '68 AFL expansion draft, and played for them one season.

Tommy Addison (Linebacker) was drafted by the Colts but decided to play for the AFL's Boston Patriots.  He was one of only two Patriots to be named All-AFL in 1960.  He was an AFL Eastern Division All-Star in 1961 and 1962, and made All-AFL again in 1963 and 1964.  He is a member of the Patriots' All-1960s Team.  Addison was an early advocate for players' benefits, and was instrumental in the creation of the American Football League Players Association.  He played for the Patriots his whole career, but was forced by knee injuries to retire prematurely after the 1967 season.

Archie Matsos (Linebacker) was another of the Buffalo Bills'' early defensive stars under head coach Buster Ramsey.  He made All-AFL in 1960 and was an AFL Eastern Division All-Star in 1961 and 1962 with the Bills.  In 1963, with the Oakland Raiders, he was again selected as an All-AFL linebacker.  Matsos also played for the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers in 1966, his final year.


The Buffalo Bills had three players on the AFL's first All-League team, and Richie McCabe (Defensive Back) was the third defensive player selected, indicating the defensive orientation of Bills' head coach Buster Ramsey. McCabe finished his playing career with the Bills in 1961, but in 1966, he returned to the team as Defensive Backfield Coach.


Dick Harris (Defensive Back) had 5 interceptions for the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, and a total of 25 picks in the Chargers' first four seasons.  He was also All-AFL in 1962, and he was a starter on the San Diego Chargers' 1963 AFL Championship team.  Harris played for the Chargers through the 1965 season.

Ross O'Hanley (Defensive Back) was one of five Boston College players to make the 1960 Boston Patriots team, a preference the Patriots continued to show throughout their AFL years.  O'Hanley joined defensive team-mate Tommy Addison as a 1960 All-AFL selection.

Austin (Goose) Gonsoulin  (Defensive Back) was an All-AFL defensive back for the Denver Broncos in 1960 (with 11 interceptions), 1962 and 1963, and an AFL Western Division All-Star in 1961, 1964, and 1966.  His eleven interceptions in 1960 are still a franchise record.  After his last season in the American Football League in 1966, he was the league's all-time leader in interceptions, with forty.  In 1970 Gonsoulin was selected as a defensive back on the Second Team, All-Time All-AFL.

Click here to see the entire list of American Football League All-League Players 1960-1969


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