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Los Angeles CHARGERS
American Football League
Charter Members
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Click HERE for some memories of 1963

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       The Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers were one of the elements that helped make the American Football League the genesis of modern professional football.  Their only coach for the ten year life of the AFL was Sid Gillman, a Hall of Famer who forced his competition to try to field as professional a product as the Chargers.  With stars such as Lance Alworth, Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln and John Hadl, the Chargers' offense struck fear into the hearts of AFL defenders.   The Chargers also played defense, as indicated by their professional football record 49 pass interceptions in 1961.  The term "Fearsome Foursome" was first applied to the Chargers' defensive front four of Ron Nery, Bill Hudson, Ernie Ladd, and Earl Faison.    The Chargers franchise appeared in the first two American Football League Championship games and five altogether, winning the American Football League title and undisputed World Championship in 1963 with a 51 - 10 thumping of the Boston Patriots. 
       AND
the Chargers had the best-looking uniforms in the history of Professional Football.

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The ORIGINAL Fearsome Foursomes

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Chargers in the American Football League Hall of Fame

Lance Alworth
Speedy Duncan
Earl Faison
Miller Farr
Kenny Graham

John Hadl
Jack Kemp

Dave Kocourek

Ernie Ladd
Keith Lincoln
Larry Little
Paul Lowe
Paul Maguire
Ron Mix
Dick Post
Tobin Rote

Walt Sweeney
Ernie Wright
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Sid Gillman

Don Klosterman

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     The Los Angeles Chargers' Dave Kocourek hurdles the New York Titans' Larry Grantham.

                                                                     

Rommie Loudd - 1959 - in UCLA uniform.  Original LA Charger, also played for Boston Patriots. Don Norton - 1960 - Original LA Charger, AFL All-Star 1961 and 1962 Dick Harris - 1962 - Original LA Charger, All-AFL 1960, 1961 Bobby Howard - 1967 - SD Chargers second-round selection, 1967 Dickie Post - 1969 - The Sporting News' 1967 AFL Rookie of the Year Charlie McNeil - 1962 - Holds Pro Football record 177 yards on interceptions, one game (1961) Sam Gruneisen - 1963 - Played 130 career games for the Chargers Bob Petrich - 1965 - Also played for the Buffalo Bills Kenny Graham - 1965 - Five-time AFL All-Star 1965 through 1969, All-AFL 1966 Willie Frazier - 1967 - AFL All-Star 1965, 1967, 1969, All-AFL 1967 Gary Garrison - 1968 - AFL All-Star 1968, with 1,103 yards receiving
Click on images for a larger view.

Click HERE for an article about Rommie Loudd
 

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LANCE ALWORTH

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       At the University of Arkansas, six-foot, 180-pound Lance Alworth was a running back who led all colleges in punt return yardage in 1960 and in 1961.  He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
       The Chargers moved Alworth to wide receiver after drafting him in the second round in 1962.   His slender build, speed, and grace earned him the nickname "Bambi".  He was an all-AFL selection 7 consecutive times, from 1963 (when he was the United Press' AFL MVP) through 1969.  Alworth gained over 1,000 yds receiving in each of those years.  He scored on a 48-yd td pass reception in the Chargers' 1963 AFL Championship game victory over the Boston Patriots.  Lance Alworth is a member of the
AFL's All-Time Team

        Alworth held records for the most consecutive games with a reception, 96, and the most games with 200 or more yards on receptions, 5.   The only receiver to average more than 100 yards a game in 3 consecutive seasons, 1964 through 1966, he was without a doubt the best player at his position in all of professional football.  Alworth formed a formidable tandem with the Chargers' Hall of Fame quarterback John Hadl.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

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EARL FAISON

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       Drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in 1961, 6-foot-5, 260-pound Earl Faison blew by opposing offensive lineman on his way to smashing American Football League quarterbacks.  Faison was an All-American at Indiana University and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
       Faison was a member of the original "Fearsome Foursome" (the Chargers' defensive line) from 1961-66. The “Foursome” was made up of Faison and Hall of Fame linemate Ernie Ladd, with alternate members of the group including Bob Petrich, Ron Nery, George Gross, Bill Hudson and Henry Schmidt.
       Despite being double and triple-teamed, Faison was chosen as the American Football League Rookie of the Year in 1961. He was an
American Football League All-Star
five straight years, 1961 through 1965, and is a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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KENNY GRAHAM

      Kenny Graham  played football, baseball and basketball at Santa Monica High School in California.  After spending time at Sacramento City College, he attended Washington State University, where he played on both sides of the ball.   An unheralded player, he was drafted in the last (13th) round of the 1964 AFL draft.  In spite of his lowly draft position, he became an intimidating player, a hard-hitting safety and punt-returner for the Chargers from 1964-1969.  
       At 6’0” and 195-lbs, he made his presence known with savage hits in the defensive backfield.  “No one hits harder,” recalled Jets’ running back Emerson Boozer.  Graham was a ball-hawk at safety, and had 4 INTs as a rookie.  He ultimately picked off 25 for SD, and returned 5 of those for TDs, a team record, tying him for 2nd place all-time in the AFL. 
     Graham was a Chargers co-captain, a 4-time
AFL All-Star ('65, '67-'69), and All-AFL in 1966.  In 1970 he was chosen by Pro Football HOF voters to the All-Time All-AFL 2nd Team.

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

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JOHN HADL

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       After playing halfback on both offense and defense at the University of Kansas as a sophomore, John Hadl played quarterback for his last two years at Kansas, and was selected as the school's Player of the Century.  He was an All-American at running back in 1960 and at quarterback in 1961, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
       The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder joined the American Football League's Chargers in 1962. He shared quarterbacking duties until 1966, when he became San Diego's starting quarterback, and averaged over 3,000 yards and 23 tds per (14-game) season for the next four years, as part of a virtually unstoppable combination with Lance Alworth.  He was the
American Football League's leading passer in 1965 and 1968.  Hadl was an AFL All-Star in 1964, 1965, 1968 and in 1969, when he was the AFL All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. 

        Hadl is the third leading passer in league history, behind Hall of Famers Jack Kemp and George Blanda.  Hadl is  a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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DAVE KOCOUREK

 Wisconsin's  Dave Kocourek  started as a pro with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1959, and then played for nine years as a tight end in the AFL, from 1960-65 for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers; for the Miami Dolphins in 1966; and for the Oakland Raiders in 1967-68. He caught 55 passes for 1,055 yards in 1961 (19.2 yards/reception), helping the Chargers win their second straight AFL West title. He was an AFL All-Star for four straight years, 1961-64, and was on the Charger team that beat the Boston Patriots for the 1963 AFL title. He played in seven AFL Championship Games, the only man to do so; with the Chargers in 1960 and 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1965; and the Oakland Raiders in 1967 and 1968.

 

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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ERNIE LADD

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       The Chargers selected Grambling standout Ernie Ladd with their 15th pick in the 1961 draft.   At 6'9" and 315 pounds, he was arguably the biggest, strongest Professional Football player: 52-inch chest, 39-inch waist, 20-inch biceps, 19-inch neck, 20-inch calf, and size 18D shoes.  He played in three AFL championship games, helping the Chargers win the American Football League title in 1963 with fellow Hall of Famer Earl Faison, as part of the original “Fearsome Foursome”.
        Ladd spent the 1966 season playing for the Houston Oilers before moving to the Kansas City Chiefs. There, with Buck Buchanan, a former Grambling teammate, he filled out what was probably the biggest defensive tackle tandem in history, and won another AFL title. Both Buchanan and Ladd are in the Grambling Hall of Fame.
       Patriots’ Hall of Fame center Jon Morris said Ladd was so big, he blocked out the sun: 'It was dark. I couldn’t see the linebackers. I couldn’t see the goalposts. It was like being locked in a closet.
'

         Ladd was an American Football League All-Star from 1962 through 1965.  He was inducted into San Diego's Breitbart Hall of Fame in 2005.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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KEITH LINCOLN

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       At Washington State University Keith Lincoln was an all-around player and the school's career rushing leader.  He maintained his versatility after being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1961.  In 1963 he led the team in rushing, punt return and kickoff return yards.  He carried 128 times for 826 yards, a 6.45 yards per attempt average and an all-time season record.            As MVP of the the 1963 AFL Championship game, Lincoln turned in what many consider the greatest championship game performance in Pro Football history, when he accounted for 349 yards of total offense, with 206 yards on 13 carries, 123 yards on 7 receptions, 20 yards on kick returns, a 68-yard td run and a 25-yard td reception, as the Chargers defeated the Boston Patriots 51-10.

            He also completed the one pass he threw in that game, for 20 yards.  A five-time American Football League All-Star selection (1962-'65 and 1967) Lincoln produced unforgettable plays virtually every season. 
             In 1961 he caught a record-setting 91 yard TD pass; in 1962, he ran a kickoff back for a Chargers' record 103 yards.  Lincoln had three
games in which he gained 100 or more yards on 14 or fewer carries, and in 1963 was the  AFL All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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PAUL LOWE

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Click HERE for more

RealPatch10Year.gif (2119 bytes)Paul Lowe of Oregon State University played for the Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers from 1960 through 1968.  His blazing speed helped him gain nearly 5,000 yards, the Chargers' all-time best, as is his 4.89 yards-per-carry average, which was also the American Football League's all-time best.  He returned his first touch of the football in the AFL for a 105-yard td in the Chargers' first-ever exhibition game, and had the team's longest run from scrimmage with an 87-yard run in 1961.  He had 1,010 yards on just 136 carries for a 5.7 yard average in 1963 and was the AFL MVP in 1965 with 1,121 yards rushing (14-game schedule),  a two-time All-American Football League selection, and a halfback on the AFL's All-Time Team.   Lowe had the AFL's all-time highest rushing average, at 4.89 yds/carry, and set a Professional Football record with six games in which he gained 100 or more yards on 14 or fewer carries. 

        Lowe is one of only twenty players who were in the American Football League for its entire ten-year existence.  Lowe was a 1979 inductee to the Chargers' Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was inducted to the City of San Diego's  Hall of Champions.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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RON MIX

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RealPatch10Year.gif (2119 bytes)Ron Mix of the University of Southern California was an original Los Angeles Charger in 1960.  Because he had a law degree, Mix was nicknamed "The Intellectual Assassin" for his physical play. 
          Mix was called for a mere 2 holding penalties in 10 years.  He was a factor in the Chargers' early domination of the American Football League's Western Division, and helped them win an American Football League Championship in 1963, when they defeated the Boston Patriots.  
         Mix was elected to the
All-AFL Team or the American Football League All-Star team for nine straight years, 1960 through 1968.  He was a unanimous choice to the American Football League's All-Time Team, and is one of only twenty men who played the entire ten years of the AFL.

The following is excerpted and paraphrased
from a 9 December 2013 column by Fred Dickey at http://www.utsandiego.com

           Now (2013) 75, Mix lives in Point Loma with Patti, his wife of 48 years. They have three daughters, one of whom, an ex-police detective, is a lawyer in his firm.
          Mix was raised in near-poverty by a Jewish immigrant mother who never let him forget he was going to college. That path was made smooth by the University of Southern California, which gave him a football scholarship to play tackle. The Trojans were rewarded when he was named All-American in 1959.
          He was a prize in the pro football draft of 1960. The NFL Colts offered him an $8,500 package. The AFL Chargers countered with $12,000 per year (about $100,000 today) and a $5,000 bonus. The Colts declined to increase their offer, saying he would then be earning as much as star quarterback Johnny Unitas. They told him the AFL was going to fold anyway, and he’d sign with the Colts the next year.
          The AFL didn’t fold, of course, and Mix became a nine-time all-pro offensive tackle for the Chargers from ’60 through ’69, and then finished with two years on the hated Raiders. He also completed law school at the University of San Diego while playing. Later, he was named to the AFL Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and several all-time teams.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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DICK POST

       In 1967 Dickie Post of  HOUSTON was a rookie halfback charged with replacing two of the AFL's best running backs:  Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln.
  
 In his first start in the third game of the season, he made an impact, gaining 121 yards.  In his third start he gained 116 yards.  By season’s end,  'Mouse' had gained 663 yards (4th best in the AFL) for 4.1 yds/carry, scored 7 rushing TDs and caught 32 passes, 4th  best among AFL rushersHis longest run, a 67 yard TD, was the AFL's 2nd-longest run of the year.
       Post led his team to a title-contending 8-1-1 record after ten games and earned Rookie of the Year and AFL All-Star honors.  He helped the pass-oriented Chargers finish 4th in rushing.  His 32 catches also helped the Chargers finish 2nd in passing, with the 4th best
overall offense.

        In 1968, with the Chargers emphasizing the passing game, Post gained 758 (5th in the league) on 151 carries for a 5.0 yard average; and in 1969 he led the AFL with 873 yards on 182 carries for a 4.8 yard average and 6 TDs.  Consistently posing a threat to go all the way on any given play, Post kept defenses on edge as a breakaway threat with his longest run from scrimmage covering 60 yards. 
       During those final three years, as most teams stressed more running than passing, Post carried the ball 494 times for 2294 yards. He was out-gained by only three AFL runners, Jim Nance,  Hoyle Granger  and Mike Garret.  From 1967 through 1969,  Post had the fewest attempts but led all rushers with 4.64 yds/carry.  No AFL runner showed more  explosiveness than Dickie Post.  Over the last forty years Post is still considered by many as one of the top 10 most elusive runners in pro-football history. 

        Click HERE for more
                                                                  Submitted by Author Dave Steidel

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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TOBIN ROTE

       Quarterback Tobin Rote led Rice University to two Southwest Conference titles in the late 1940s.   As a professional, he is a player who “fell between the cracks”. The American Football League Hall of Fame ordinarily honors players whose greatest contribution to professional football was in the AFL.  Some were in the AFL before they had more extensive post-merger careers that resulted in their induction to the “pro football” hall of fame.  These players have been included in the AFL Hall of Fame.   Rote, however, played ten years in the older league, then three years in the Canadian Football League, then three years in the AFL before his career ended.         

            It's not my usual policy to present players’ NFL accomplishments, but I feel this is a special case.
          After making enough of an impression on the Packers to be in their team’s hall of fame, Tobin Rote went on to the Lions, where he led the team to an NFL championship in 1957, the last time they would win one.  He played there until 1959, then from 1960 through 1962 was with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, where he lifted a 4-10 team to within one game of the Grey Cup, and in 1960 had six 300+ yard games, three 5-td games, a game with 38 completions, and a league record 38 tds in the season.
          In 1963, he joined the San Diego Chargers of the AFL, and threw for 2,510 yards on 170 completions out of 286 attempts, for 17 touchdowns and rushed 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.  He was selected by the Associated Press as the 1963
American Football League Most Valuable Player.
          Rote accumulated 15,144 yards passing in the NFL, 9,872 in the CFL, and 3,706 in the AFL for a total of 28,722:  more than Daryle Lamonica, Jack Kemp, Bob Griese or Joe Namath, and just 5 yards short of Len Dawson.  He had 115 td throws in the NFL, 66 in the CFL, and 33 in the AFL for a total of 214:  more than Flores, Kemp, Lamonica, Namath, Parilli, or Griese.   He was the only quarterback ever to lead his team to championships in both the NFL and the AFL.
          If the “pro football” hall of fame were truly representative of ALL of professional football, Tobin Rote would be in it.   It has demurred, so in spite of his serving only three years in the AFL, we accept him as our own and install him in the American Football League Hall of Fame.  In 2011, Rote was inducted to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

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WALT SWEENEY

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       From Syracuse University where he made the school's all-century team, Walt Sweeney played in the North-South Game and the College All-Star Game.  A first-round draft pick of the Chargers, in his rookie year in 1963, helped them win the American Football League championship.  A premier guard, he was versatile enough to fill in at virtually any offensive line position.  Sweeney was an American Football League All-Star at offensive guard in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969.  In 1968, Pro Football Weekly selected him to its combined all-pro team.  Sweeney was selected to the All-Time All-AFL second team.

Sweeney is  a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

  

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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SID GILLMAN

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RealPatch10Year.gif (2119 bytes)An Ohio State University alumnus,  Sid Gillman was recognized for his mastery of the passing game, which held a lifelong fascination for him. 
          Even after his separation from coaching in the early '80s, Gillman continued to study passers and passing offense. 
         His career took him from Ohio State to Denison University to Miami of Ohio, where he won his first head coaching position in 1944.
           In 1948, he was Army's line coach under Earl Blaik, then returned to Ohio to become head coach at Cincinnati University.  

           His greatest coaching success came after he was persuaded by Barron Hilton, then the Chargers' majority owner, to become the head coach of the American Football League franchise he planned to operate in Los Angeles. When the team's general manager, the late Frank Leahy, became ill during the Chargers' founding season, Gillman took on additional responsibilities as general manager.  
        As the first coach of the Chargers, Gillman gave the team a personality that matched his own.  He was mercurial.  Gillman's concepts formed the foundation of the so-called "West Coast offense" that pro football teams are still using.   He had much to do with the American Football League being able to establish itself. Gillman was a thorough professional. In order to compete with him, his peers had to learn pro ways. They learned, and the American Football League became the genesis of modern professional football."Sid Gillman brought class to the AFL," Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al Davis once said of the man he served under on that first Chargers team. "Being part of Sid's organization was like going to a laboratory for the highly developed science of professional football."   
          Through Gillman's tenure as head coach, the Chargers went 87-57-6 and won five AFL Western Division titles.   In 1963 they captured the only league championship the club ever won by outscoring the Boston Patriots, 51-10, in the American Football League championship game in Balboa Stadium.    That game was a measure of Gillman's genius. He crafted a game plan he entitled "Feast or Famine" that used motion, then seldom seen, to negate the Patriots' blitzes. His plan freed running back Keith Lincoln to rush for 206 yards.   In addition to Lincoln, on Gillman's teams through the '60s were these Hall of Famers: wide receiver Lance Alworth; offensive tackle Ron Mix; running back Paul Lowe; quarterback John Hadl; and defensive linemen Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison. 
           Gillman was one of only two head coaches to hold that position for the entire ten years of the American Football League.
           Sid Gillman's infuence on Professional Football is felt to this day, as can be seen by his "coaching tree".  Bill Walsh is acknowledged as a mastermind coach, but
Walsh was an assistant to Al Davis, who learned the trade from Gillman. So Walsh's coaching tree is an offshoot of Gillman's. Besides Davis, others who coached for Gillman included Dick Vermeil, Chuck Knox, and George Allen, as well as Chuck Noll, the only head coach to win four Super Bowls. The numbers on Gillman's coaching tree below indicate the Super Bowls won by his coaching "descendants", a total of twenty-five.  Click the table to enlarge it.
 

  

A member of the
American Football League Hall of Fame


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DON KLOSTERMAN

RealPatch10Year.gif (2119 bytes)Don "Duke" Klosterman was a force not only in inaugurating the American Football League, but in helping to build it into the genesis of modern Professional Football.
          He was the leading collegiate passer of 1951 at
LOYOLA of Los Angeles, and went on to play in the CFL.  After a serious accident ended his playing career, he became an outstanding football executive.  In 1960, Frank Leahy, the former Notre Dame head coach, was the general manager of the fledgling AFL's Los Angeles Chargers.  Leahy asked Klosterman to help him recruit players.

        Klosterman's impact was felt throughout the ten year existence of the league.  He  garnered a host of stars for the AFL.  In its bidding war with the other league, he helped land Hall of Famers Lance Alworth, Ernie Ladd, John Hadl and Jack Kemp for the Chargers.   While with the Kansas City Chiefs, he was instrumental in their signings of Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Pete Beathard, Mike Garrett and Otis Taylor, most of them important players in the Chiefs' dismantling of the NFL champions in the fourth AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
        He went on to serve as the Houston Oilers' GM, guiding them to two playoff berths in his four years there.  It can rightly be stated that without Don Klosterman, the AFL would not have been the success that it was.

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A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame


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