Larry Gagner

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Larry Gagner
refer to caption
Gagner from 1965 Seminole yearbook
No. 79
Position: Guard
Personal information
Date of birth: (1943-12-30) December 30, 1943 (age 72)
Place of birth: Cleveland, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school: Daytona Beach (FL) Seabreeze
College: Florida
NFL Draft: 1966 / Round: 2 / Pick: 19
AFL draft: 1966 / Round: 3 / Pick: 18
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 59
Games started: 14
Fumbles recovered: 2
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Lawrence Joseph Gagner (born December 30, 1943) is an American former college and professional football player who was a guard in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons during the 1960s and 1970s. Gagner played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. He was a second-round pick in the 1966 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL.

Early life[edit]

Gagner was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1943.[1] He attended Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Florida,[2] where he was a standout two-way prep player for the Seabreeze Sandcrabs high school football team.[3] The Sandcrabs posted a 19–2–1 overall win-loss record during Gagner's junior and senior years, and laid claim to the state football championship his junior year.[3] In 2007, forty-six years after he graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) named Gagner to its "All-Century Team," recognizing him as one of the thirty-three greatest Florida high school football players of the last 100 years.[3]

College career[edit]

Gagner accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, and played for coach Ray Graves' Florida Gators football teams from 1963 to 1965.[4] During his college career, Gagner primarily played offensive guard, but also appeared at center, defensive tackle, and linebacker due to his combination of strength and speed.[5] He was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection in 1964 and 1965, and a first-team All-American in 1965.[4] As a senior lineman, Gagner participated in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, the Gators' first-ever major bowl appearance. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1967, and was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great."[6]

Professional career[edit]

Pittsburgh Steelers[edit]

Gagner was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round (nineteenth pick overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft, and also by the Miami Dolphins in the third round (eighteenth pick overall) of the 1966 American Football League (AFL) Draft.[7] Gagner chose to sign with the Steelers for the then-staggering sum of $150,000,[5] and played regularly at guard from 1966 until 1969, starting 14 games, regularly serving as a team captain, and being called Pittsburgh's "most consistent" offensive lineman.[1][8]

Automobile accident[edit]

In March 1970, Gagner was involved in a near-fatal traffic accident in his Porsche 911 while driving intoxicated near his home in Ormond Beach, Florida.[9] He suffered multiple serious injuries, including a broken arm, lacerations that required over 30 stitches, a chipped left femur head, and a badly dislocated left hip. Gagner remained in the hospital for two months,[10] after which he reported to Steelers training camp in July. However, after one practice, the team doctor determined that Gagner had not sufficiently recovered from his injuries and recommended that he postpone his return.[8] His hip continued to heal very slowly, causing Gagner to miss the entire 1970 season. He was traded to the New York Giants in the offseason but did not pass a team physical, so the Giants put him on waivers. He then joined the Denver Broncos, hoping that continued rehabilitation would allow him to play later in the season, but ended up missing the entire 1971 season as well.[10]

Later career[edit]

In 1972, Gagner finally returned to the field as a reserve lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs.[11] However, he was frustrated by his inability to perform as he had before the accident and decided to retire during the 1973 preseason.[10] Gagner came out of retirement in 1974, playing in a backup role for the Jacksonville franchise of the World Football League (WFL) for two truncated seasons.[10][12] The WFL folded in 1975, and Gagner signed a free agent contract with the NFL's expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 1976.[13] However, he did not pass a team physical and was released. He signed with the New Orleans Saints in May 1976, but was cut in early in the preseason.[14] In one last attempt to continue his career, Gagner tried out for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, where the team doctor warned him that returning to the field would accelerate the degeneration of his injured hip. Following this advice, Gagner finally decided to retire.[9]

Overall, Larry Gagner appeared in 60 regular season NFL games.

Life after football[edit]

After football, Gagner worked several different jobs, including as a taxi driver, security guard, and substitute teacher, before deciding to make use of his college degree in commercial art. He and his wife Doris live in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, where he is a working artist, mainly in painting and sculpture.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Larry Gagner. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  2. ^ databaseFootball.com, Players, Larry Gagner. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "FHSAA announces 33-member All-Century football team," Florida High School Athletic Association (December 12, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  4. ^ a b 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 97, 90, 96, 181 (2011). Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Bernard Kahn, "Gagner Signs For $150,000," Daytona Beach Morning Journal, p. 6 (January 4, 1966). Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  6. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  7. ^ Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1966 Draft. Retrieved June 2, 2010
  8. ^ a b Livingston, Pat (5 August 1970). "Steeler's Gagner Finds Hill to Recover Steep". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Accident Paints Future - Paintings by Larry Gagner". 
  10. ^ a b c d Bob Smizik, "Ex-Steelers guard Gagner sculpts a promising career," The Pittsburgh Press, p. D2 (June 29, 1987). Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  11. ^ National Football League, Historical Players, Larry Gagner. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  12. ^ United Press International, "Sports Briefs: Two Sign Contracts," The Altus Times-Democrat, p. 8 (May 28, 1975). Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  13. ^ AP (7 March 1976). "Gagner Inks". Panama City News-Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  14. ^ UPI (31 July 1976). "Saints notes". The Daily Courier. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  15. ^ Erika Vidal, "Larry, quite contrary," St. Petersburg Times (April 27, 2007). Retrieved June 2, 2010.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
  • McEwen, Tom, The Gators: A Story of Florida Football, The Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama (1974). ISBN 0-87397-025-X.
  • Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.

External links[edit]