American Football League Most Valuable Players
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During its ten-year existence (1960–1969), the American Football League's best player for each year was called the Most Valuable Player by some sports-news sources and the Player of the Year by others. The awards by the major services are shown below.
In the league’s first year, Haynes led the AFL in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns. Haynes helped launch the AFL as the fledgling league's first Most Valuable Player, and its first Rookie of the Year. He captured the AFL's first rushing crown with 875 yards, and also led the Texans in receiving, punt returns, and kickoff returns.
Blanda completed 187 of 362 passes for 3,330 yards and 36 touchdowns, for 216 points. He added another 112 points on conversions (64 of 65) and field goals (16 of 26). In the Oilers' 10-6 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the American Football League Championship game, Blanda had a hand in all the Oilers' scoring, throwing a 25-yard pass to Billy Cannon, and kicking the extra point and a 46-yard field goal.
Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist came from the Canadian Football League and took American pro football by storm. In his first year in the league, he became its first thousand-yard rusher, gaining (in a 14-game season) 1,096 yards on 246 carries for a 5.1 yards-per-carry average and 13 touchdowns, an all-time league record. He also caught 24 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and kicked 14 extra points and seven field goals, the longest a 42-yarder.
Len Dawson completed 61% (189 of 310) of his passes for 2,759 yards and 29 touchdowns, while rushing 38 times for 252 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Texans to an 11-3 regular season, and a 23-20 victory in the classic double-overtime American Football League Championship game against the Houston Oilers.
Lance Alworth played in only four games in his rookie year of 1962, but in 1963, he played the full 14-game schedule and showed the talent that would make him pro football's best receiver. He caught 61 passes for 1,205 yards, a 19.8 yard-per-catch average, for 11 touchdowns, and helped the San Diego Chargers to an 11-3 record and a 51-10 victory over the Boston Patriots in the championship game.
Tobin Rote threw for 2,510 yards in 1963, on 170 completions out of 286 attempts, for 17 touchdowns, and he ran for two scores. In the American Football League Championship game, he scored a rushing touchdown and passed for three more as he led the San Diego Chargers to a 51-10 defeat of the Boston Patriots, thus becoming the only quarterback to win championships in both the NFL and the AFL.
Clem Daniels had phenomenal rushing and pass-receiving averages in 1963: 5.1 yards per carry and 22.8 yards per reception. He gained 1,099 yards on 215 carries with two rushing touchdowns, and piled up 685 yards on 30 receptions, with five receiving touchdowns.
Gino Cappelletti was not a fast receiver, but a wily one who caught 49 passes for 865 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Boston Patriots in 1964. He was also their kicker, making 35 of 36 extra point attempts and 22 of 38 field goal tries for a total of 155 points, which would be the highest single season total in the league's ten-year existence.
Paul Lowe was the first American Football League player to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing in two different seasons, with 1,010 in 1963 and 1,121 in his MVP year of 1965. He carried 222 times for a 5 yards-per-carry average and scored 6 touchdowns rushing and one receiving.
After leading the Buffalo Bills to their first American Football League Championship the previous year, Jack Kemp continued his stellar play in 1965, passing for 2,368 yards and 10 touchdowns, and rushing for 4 more scores. In the Championship game, he quickly put the Bills ahead on an 18-yard scoring strike to tight end Ernie Warlick, and they went on to defeat Kemp's former team, the Chargers, for the second straight year, 23-0.
Jim Nance, at 6'-1" and 243 pounds was a classic fullback who, in 1966 with the Boston Patriots, rushed for what would go down as the highest total in the history of the American Football League: 1,458 yards on 299 carries for 11 touchdowns.
Daryle Lamonica, the 'Mad Bomber', passed for over 3,000 yards, with 3,228 yards off 220 completions on 425 attempts, for 30 touchdowns, running for another four. He had 2 touchdown passes and ran for another in the Oakland Raiders 40-7 victory over the Houston Oilers in the American Football League Championship game.
The year after he passed for an AFL record 4,007 yards, Joe Namath was the 1968 American Football League MVP, as he completed 187 of 380 passes for 3,147 yards and 15 touchdowns, also scoring two rushing touchdowns. Three passes for touchdowns in the 1968 AFL Championship game helped defeat the Oakland Raiders, 27-23, and the Jets went on to defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
In 1967, Joe Namath threw for 4,007 yards, but Daryle Lamonica, with 3,228, was the consensus AFL MVP. In 1968, Lamonica threw for 100 more yards and 10 more touchdowns than Namath, but Namath was the consensus AFL MVP. In 1969, the AFL's final year, they shared the honor, the only two players to receive the award twice.
Lamonica had his third straight 3,000-yard season, passing for 3,302, with 34 touchdowns, and he ran for one score. In the AFL Interdivision Playoff Game, coming off three days in the hospital for back problems, he threw for 4 touchdowns in the Raiders 56-7 defeat of the Houston Oilers.
Namath threw for 2,734 yards and 19 touchdowns while scoring two rushing touchdowns as he led the Jets to a 10-4 record and the Eastern Division title.