John Wilbur (American football)

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John Wilbur
No. 65, 60
Position: Guard
Personal information
Date of birth: (1943-05-21)May 21, 1943
Place of birth: San Diego, California
Date of death: December 9, 2013(2013-12-09) (aged 70)
Place of death: Honolulu, Hawaii
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 251 lb (114 kg)
Career information
High school: Alexander Hamilton (CA)
College: Stanford
AFL draft: 1965 / Round: 6 / Pick: 45
(by the Kansas City Chiefs)
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 101
Fumbles recovered: 2
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

John Leonard Wilbur (May 21, 1943 – December 9, 2013) was a professional American football offensive lineman for the National Football League (NFL) and the World Football League (WFL).

Early years[edit]

Wilbur attended Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, California. He declined football scholarships from the University of Southern California and the University of California-Los Angeles, opting for Stanford University in 1961 and intending to study law with an Eagle Scout scholarship.

He became a starter at guard as a sophomore.[1] He was a three-year starter and played offensive guard, offensive tackle and defensive end. He graduated with a degree in History from Stanford University.

Professional career[edit]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

Wilbur was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round (45th overall) of the 1965 AFL Draft, but instead chose to sign with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys as a free agent in 1966. As a rookie he quit training camp and had to be convinced to come back. He played mainly as the wedge-buster on special teams and as backup offensive tackle.

He was a part of the 1967 NFL Championship Game famously known as the "The Ice Bowl". In 1968, he became the starter at right guard.

Blocking for quarterback Don Meredith and playing with Peter Gent, Wilbur was an anti-hero, outspoken against the "racists elements" on the team and in the city.[2] Part of the "Wild Rebel Bunch" contingency (along with Gent and Meredith), he infamously organized a group of Cowboys to be security guards at the Texas International Pop Festival. He was also a Player Representative in the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) for the Cowboys.

In 1970, he was initially traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for a third round draft choice (#69-Sam Scarber),[3] but after threatening to retire, the Cardinals traded him to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for guard Mike Lahood.[4][5] He was replaced by Blaine Nye, who was moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard.

Los Angeles Rams[edit]

Wilbur was a backup right guard for the Rams and played mostly on special teams under the auspices of hall of fame coach George Allen.

On January 28, 1971, he was traded to the Washington Redskins along with Maxie Baughan, Diron Talbert, Jack Pardee, Myron Pottios, Jeff Jordan and a fifth round pick (#124-Jim Stillwagon) in exchange for Marlin McKeever, first round pick (#10-Isiah Robertson), third round pick (#63-Dave Elmendorf), fourth round pick (#99-Joe Federspiel), fifth round pick (#125-Bob Christiansen), sixth round pick (#151-Eddie Hebert) and a seventh round pick (#177-Mike Zikas).[6]

Washington Redskins[edit]

Wilbur reunited with Allen and became a starter at right guard with the Washington Redskins from 1971 to 1973. He helped the team reach Super Bowl VII against the Miami Dolphins. He is credited with being one of the first players to sew the sleeves of his jerseys tight, later adopted by the League.

In 1972, Nixon was on his way up and the Vietnam War was raging. Wilbur was one of the Redskins players to support George McGovern and his anti-war platform. He became good friends with both McGovern and a young reporter, Hunter S. Thompson, who would later write Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.[7] He also was named the treasurer for the NFLPA.

The Hawaiians (WFL)[edit]

In 1974, just before the NFLPA lockout concerning binding arbitration for salary disputes, Wilbur left the NFL to play for the Hawaiians of the World Football League.[8] The next year he was a player/coach on the offensive line.

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

On May 17, 1976, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.[9] He retired before the start of the season on September 6.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Wilbur earned a masters in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles while playing for the Dallas Cowboys.

Through his time at Stanford, Wilbur developed a keen appreciation for rugby football. As his years in the NFL wound down Wilbur became a ringleader of the Hawaii Harlequins Rugby Football Club, and continued to enjoy the social aspects of rugby long after hanging up his boots. Wilbur was a "regular" at the Aspen Ruggerfest until the end.

He died on December 9, 2013. He had three children Nathan Wilbur, Dione Wilbur, Lindsea Kemp-Wilbur and four grandchildren.


External links[edit]