Lance Alworth San Diego Chargers & Dallas Cowboys

"You can’t stop (learning) in this game because the defenses are always trying something new. In my case, I have to improvise quite a bit. It isn’t often that I am defensed one-on-one. You have to adjust your patterns from game to game, sometimes frequently during a game.”

Al Davis was an assistant coach with the 1962 San Diego Chargers of the American Football League when he signed a flanker, Lance Alworth, to a contract after a spirited bidding battle with the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers.

Davis recalls his feelings when he snagged this first big AFL prize of the budding inter-league war of the 1960s. "Lance Alworth was one of maybe three players in my lifetime who had what I would call ‘it.’ You could see right from the start that he was going to be a superstar."

Lance epitomized the glamorous, crowd-pleasing, deadly effective approach to football the Chargers exhibited in the early years of the AFL, enjoying nine exceptional years in San Diego before shifting to Dallas for a final two years with the 1971 and 1972 Cowboys. His patented leaping catches and blazing after-the-catch runs are legendary. Statistics many times are misleading, but in Alworth's case, they are not.

In 11 pro seasons, he caught 542 passes for 10,266 yards, an 18.9-yard average and 85 touchdowns. During his nine seasons with the Chargers, the graceful receiver averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards per season.

He was named All-AFL seven consecutive years from 1963 to 1969 and played in the league's last seven All-Star games. He caught at least one pass in every AFL game he played, including a then-record 96 straight regular-season games and 105 in a row, if you count two AFL title games and seven All-Star appearances.

It seemed fitting that in 1978 he became the first AFL player to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As Charley Hennigan, himself a great receiving star with the Houston Oilers, once said: "A player comes along once in a lifetime who alone is worth the price of admission. Lance Alworth was that player!"