Danny Villanueva

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Danny Villanueva
No. 11
Position: Placekicker / Punter
Personal information
Date of birth: (1937-11-05)November 5, 1937
Place of birth: Tucumcari, New Mexico
Date of death: June 18, 2015(2015-06-18) (aged 77)
Place of death: Ventura, California
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school: Calexico
College: New Mexico State
Undrafted: 1960
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games: 110
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Daniel Dario Villanueva (November 5, 1937 – June 18, 2015) was an American football professional player, television and Major League Soccer executive. Villanueva was a placekicker and punter who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys. Villanueva, who was of Mexican American descent, played college football at New Mexico State University.

A news director and broadcasting executive, Villanueva was a co-founder of Univision, a major Spanish-language television network in the United States.[1]

Early years[edit]

Villanueva graduated in 1956 from Calexico Union High School (the Bulldogs) and attended Reedley College, before accepting a scholarship to play college football at New Mexico State University. He was part of the teams that won back to back Sun Bowl games in 1959 and 1960, as well as going undefeated his senior season. These were significant accomplishments, considering that more than 50 years have passed without another postseason appearance for the New Mexico State University football teams.

He was inducted into the New Mexico State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970. Villanueva died on June 18, 2015.

Professional NFL career[edit]

Los Angeles Rams[edit]

In 1960, he signed with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent, becoming one of the earliest players of Mexican descent in the NFL, and one of the last straight-away style placekickers. Villanueva was both a placekicker and a punter, so he kept two different pairs of shoes on game day.

During his time with the Rams he was nicknamed "El Kickador" and "El Toe-reador", with bullfighting music being played whenever he walked onto the field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In 1962, he led the NFL in punting, set the Rams' record for the longest field goal (51 yards) and the single-season record for punting average (45.5), which lasted for 45 years until it was broken in 2007 by Donnie Jones.[2]

He led the team in scoring from 1960 to 1963, until Bruce Gossett won the placekicker starting job in 1964. In 1966 the Rams traded him to the Dallas Cowboys, in exchange for wide receiver and future hall of famer Tommy McDonald.[3] He left as the Rams career gross average punting leader with 44.3 yards, a record that was broken by Donnie Jones in 2009.

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

In 1965, he had an instant impact improving the special teams unit, eventually setting the franchise record with 100 consecutive extra point conversions (1965–1967). In 1966, he had a career high 107 points and set the Cowboys record for most extra points made without a miss on a season with 56.[4]

Villanueva retired after the 1967 NFL Championship Game famously known as the "The Ice Bowl". He finished with a 42.8 career punting average without a block and 491 career points.

Major League Soccer[edit]

L.A. Galaxy[edit]

Villanueva was a co-founder of the L.A. Galaxy franchise in Major League Soccer. He was Galaxy's first president, during his presidency, Galaxy reached the MLS Cup final in 1996. He served as president and general manager until 1998 when Anschutz Entertainment Group purchased the team and Tim Leiweke took over as club president.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Villanueva went on to become a self-made multimillionaire. He started as a sports broadcaster on KNBC in Los Angeles, California. In the 1970s he became part-owner of the Spanish International Network (SIN), a Spanish-language network based in the United States with stations located in cities across the US with significant Spanish language populations. In 1986 the network was sold and renamed to Univision. Villanueva launched the annual "Navidad en el Barrio" telethon in 1971 to raise money for toys and food for needy Hispanic families in Southern California during the Christmas season, which was televised annually in December from 1971 to the early 1990s on KMEX-TV. In 1990, he launched the annual Fiesta Broadway Cinco de Mayo celebration which takes place in downtown Los Angeles.

In 1988, he was inducted into the National Hispanic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural group. In 2003 the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted him into the Management Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural group. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hispanic Sports Foundation for Education Inc.'s National Hispanic Hall Of Fame. He died after a stroke in 2015.[6][7]

He was married to Myrna Schmidt, with whom he had two sons Daniel L. and Jim.[8] His brother, Primo Villanueva, was one of the first Hispanic surnamed players in the Canadian Football League (CFL).


External links[edit]