Joe Don Looney

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Joe Don Looney
Date of birth: (1942-10-10)October 10, 1942
Place of birth: Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Date of death: September 24, 1988(1988-09-24) (aged 45)
Place of death: Terlingua, Texas, U.S.
Career information
Position(s): Running back
College: Texas
Texas Christian
Cameron Junior College
Oklahoma
AFL Draft: 1964 / Round: 6 / Pick: 44
(by the Kansas City Chiefs)
NFL Draft: 1964 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12
Organizations
As player:
1964
1964
1965-1966
1966-1967
1969
New York Giants
Baltimore Colts
Detroit Lions
Washington Redskins
New Orleans Saints
Career stats
Playing stats at NFL.com

Joe Don Looney (October 10, 1942 – September 24, 1988) was an American football running back in the National Football League for the New York Giants, Baltimore Colts, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, and the New Orleans Saints. He attended Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida and Paschal High School in Ft. Worth, Texas for high school.

College career[edit]

During his first semester at the University of Texas, Looney received four Fs and one D mark. Looney responded by dropping out and enrolling at Texas Christian University. He was eventually kicked out of that school and transferred to Cameron Junior College, where he played for Leroy Montgomery. He set a punting record in the 1961 Junior Rose Bowl, as his team won the junior college national championship. He made All-American with the University of Oklahoma in 1962, leading them to the Big Eight Conference championship. He played in only three games in 1963. Coach Bud Wilkinson kicked him off the team after Looney punched a graduate-assistant coach.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Looney was drafted in the first round (twelfth overall) of the 1964 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He was also selected in the sixth round of the 1964 AFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, but chose to play in the NFL instead. He was with the Giants just 25 days before they traded him to the Baltimore Colts just before the 1964 season. Looney was only given 23 carries that entire season with Baltimore.

The Colts traded Looney to the Detroit Lions following the 1964 season. He put together one good season, racking up 114 carries for 356 yards and five touchdowns. While with Detroit, coach Harry Gilmer wanted Looney to carry in a play to the quarterback. Looney refused and told Gilmer "If you want a messenger boy, call Western Union."[2]

Detroit traded Looney to the Washington Redskins, where he had an uneventful tenure. He had 55 carries for 178 yards. The only highlight of his time with the Redskins came on a play in which he didn't even have the ball. He was pass protecting for quarterback Sonny Jurgensen on a play, and ended up leveling an onrushing pass rusher with a right hook to the jaw.

In 1968, Looney was called up by the United States Army to go to Vietnam. When he returned to the States, he signed on with the New Orleans Saints.

He had three carries for -3 yards with the Saints that year, and retired after the season.

Looney was ranked as the most uncoachable player in NFL history by NFL Films president Steve Sabol.[3] He would often intentionally run the wrong way on plays in practice in order to make things more challenging for himself. He once skipped several practices. When questioned about his absences, he responded by saying, "If practice makes perfect and perfection is impossible, why practice?"

After football[edit]

After his retirement from football he converted to Hinduism and joined the Siddha Yoga movement led by Swami Muktananda. Stan Trout, a fellow convert, alleged that Looney was one of Muktananda’s “enforcers” who intimidated people into obeying him.[4]

Looney plead guilty to illegal possession of a firearm in federal court on January 7, 1974. He was sentenced to three years' probation. On February 5, 1988, he received a presidential pardon from Ronald Reagan.[5] Looney died at the age of 45, on September 24, 1988, near Luna Vista north of Terlingua, Texas when his motorcycle ran off a rural highway and crashed into a fence.[6]

Personal[edit]

Looney was born in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Don Looney, who played on the 1938 NCAA championship team of Texas Christian University, and played end for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1940.[7][8] He had a daughter Tara in 1968.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]