1961 American Football League season

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1961 American Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 9 – December 17, 1961
Playoffs
DateDecember 24, 1961
Eastern Champion Houston Oilers
Western Champion San Diego Chargers
Site Balboa Stadium, San Diego, California
Champion Houston Oilers

The 1961 American Football League season was the second regular season of the American Football League (AFL). It consisted of 8 franchises split into two divisions: the East Division (Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers, Titans of New York, Boston Patriots) and the West Division (San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders).

In an organized sports league, a typical season is the portion of one year in which regulated games of the sport are in session: for example, in Major League Baseball the season lasts approximately from April to October. In other team sports, like association football or basketball, it is generally from August or September to May although in some countries - such as Northern Europe or East Asia - the season starts in the spring and finishes in autumn, mainly due to weather conditions encountered during the winter.

American Football League Professional football league that merged with National Football League in 1970

The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football league that operated for ten seasons from 1960 until 1969, when it merged with the older National Football League (NFL), and became the American Football Conference. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence. It was more successful than earlier rivals to the NFL with the same name, the 1926, 1936 and 1940 leagues, and the later All-America Football Conference.

Buffalo Bills National Football League franchise in Buffalo, New York

The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The Bills compete in the National Football League (NFL), as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays their home games at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills are the only NFL team that plays its home games in the state of New York. The Bills conduct summer training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York, an eastern suburb of Rochester.

Contents

After having spent its inaugural season in Los Angeles, the Chargers moved to San Diego, California for this AFL season; 56 years later, the franchise returned to their original home.

The season ended when the Houston Oilers defeated the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Championship game.

Division races

The AFL had 8 teams, grouped into two divisions. Each team would play a home-and-away game against the other 7 teams in the league for a total of 14 games, and the best team in the Eastern Division would play against the best in the Western Division in a championship game. If there was tie in the standings, a playoff would be held to determine the division winner.

The San Diego Chargers won their first eleven games, clinching the Western Division on November 12, with four games left. When San Diego reached 10–0, it had twice the wins of any other team in the AFL. In the Eastern Division, the Titans of New York lost 27–10 to Denver, while Boston beat Buffalo 52–21, in Week Seven, for a tie in the race, with the Pats at 3–3–1 and the Titans at 3–3–0. The Titans lost, 48–13 to San Diego, in Week Nine. The following week, though (November 12), Houston beat Boston, 27–15, to take a half-game lead, and won the division by a full game.

WeekEasternWestern
1Tie (Hou, TNY)1–0–0Tie (Den, SD)1–0–0
2Houston1–0–0San Diego2–0–0
3Tie (Bos, TNY)2–1–0San Diego3–0–0
4New York3–1–0San Diego4–0–0
5New York3–1–0San Diego5–0–0
6New York3–2–0San Diego6–0–0
7Tie (Bos, TNY)3–3–1San Diego7–0–0
8Tie (Bos, TNY)4–3–1San Diego8–0–0
9Boston5–3–1San Diego9–0–0
10Houston5–3–1San Diego10–0–0
11Houston6–3–1San Diego11–0–0
12Houston7–3–1San Diego11–0–0
13Houston8–3–1San Diego11–1–0
14Houston9–3–1San Diego12–1–0
15Houston10–3–1San Diego12–2–0

Regular season

Results

Home/RoadEastern DivisionWestern Division
BOS BUF HOU NY DAL DEN OAK SD
Eastern Boston Patriots 52–2131–3120–2128–2145–1720–1727–38
Buffalo Bills 21–2316–2841–3127–2410–2222–3111–19
Houston Oilers 27–1512–2249–1338–745–1455–033–13
Titans of New York 37–3021–1421–4828–735–2823–1210–25
Western Dallas Texans 17–1820–3026–2135–2449–2143–1110–26
Denver Broncos 24–2810–2314–5527–1012–1927–2416–19
Oakland Raiders 21–3521–2616–476–1435–4233–1910–41
San Diego Chargers 0–4128–1034–2448–1324–1437–044–0

Standings

Playoffs

 
AFL Championship Game
 
  
 
December 24, 1961 – Balboa Stadium
 
 
Houston Oilers 10
 
 
San Diego Chargers 3
 

Awards

George Blanda American football player

George Frederick Blanda was an American football quarterback and placekicker who played professionally in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL). Blanda played 26 seasons of professional football, the most in the sport's history, and had scored more points than anyone in history at the time of his retirement. Blanda retired from pro football in 1976 as the oldest player to ever play at the age of 48. He was one of only two players to play in four different decades, and he holds the record for most extra points made (943) and attempted (959). During his career, he played under head coaches Bear Bryant, George Halas, and John Madden.

The 1961 Houston Oilers season was their second. For the second consecutive season, the Oilers scored a triumph in the AFL championship game over the San Diego Chargers (12–2), the Western Division champions.

Coaches

AFL Eastern Division

Lou Saban American football player and coach

Louis Henry Saban was an American football player and coach. He played for Indiana University in college and as a professional for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference between 1946 and 1949. Saban then began a long coaching career. After numerous jobs at the college level, he became the first coach of the Boston Patriots in the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. He joined the Buffalo Bills two years later, and led the team to consecutive AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. After serving briefly as head coach at the University of Maryland, he was hired as head coach of the Denver Broncos in 1967, where he remained for five years. Saban returned to the Bills—by then in the National Football League following the AFL–NFL merger—from 1972 to 1976, reaching the playoffs once but failing to bring Buffalo another championship.

Mike Holovak American football player, coach, executive

Michael Joseph Holovak was an American football player, coach, and executive. He played college football at Boston College, where he was named an All-American at fullback in 1942. Holovak was selected in the first round of the 1943 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Rams. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he played in the National Football League (NFL) with the Rams, who had moved to Los Angeles, in 1946 and with the Chicago Bears in 1947 and 1948. Holovak served as the head football coach at his alma mater, Boston College, from 1951 to 1959, compiling a record of 49–29–3. In 1960, he joined the Boston Patriots of the American Football League as an assistant coach under Lou Saban. Holovak took over as head coach after Saban's firing midway through the 1961 season and remained as the team's head coach through the 1968 season. In 1976, he served one game as head coach for the New York Jets. He was also the general manager of the Houston Oilers from 1989 to 1993. Holovak was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1985.

Buster Ramsey American football player and coach

Garrard Sliger "Buster" Ramsey was an American football player who starred at William and Mary and was the first head coach of the American Football League's Buffalo Bills in 1960. Prior to coaching the Bills, and after a stint in the United States Navy during World War II, Ramsey played for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1951 and a member of the 1947 NFL Champions. In 1951, Ramsey became a player-coach for the Cardinals before becoming the defensive coach for the Detroit Lions in 1952. During his tenure with the Lions, Ramsey is credited with devising the 4-3 defense, a staple of modern football, and being the first coach to blitz linebackers, a package he called Red Dog. The Lions won three World Championships in the 1950s with Ramsey running the defense. He developed Lions greats such as Yale Lary, Jack Christiansen, Jim David, and many others. In 1960, he was lured to the new American Football League as coach of the Buffalo Bills. Though fired by Bills' owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. after the 1961 AFL season, Ramsey is credited for laying the foundation of one of the best defensive teams in the history of the AFL. He also had a brother, Knox Ramsey, who also starred for the College of William and Mary, the Chicago Cardinals, and the Washington Redskins. Ramsey was elected into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

AFL Western Division

Kansas City Chiefs National Football League franchise in Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. The team was founded in 1960 as the Dallas Texans by businessman Lamar Hunt and was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). In 1963, the team relocated to Kansas City and assumed their current name. The Chiefs joined the NFL as a result of the merger in 1970. The team is valued at over $2 billion. Hunt's son, Clark, serves as chairman and CEO. While Hunt's ownership stakes passed collectively to his widow and children after his death in 2006, Clark represents the Chiefs at all league meetings and has ultimate authority on personnel changes.

Hank Stram American football player and coach

Henry Louis "Hank" Stram was an American football coach. He is best known for his 15-year tenure with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL).

Denver Broncos National Football League franchise in Denver, Colorado

The Denver Broncos are a professional American football franchise based in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos compete as a member club of the National Football League (NFL)'s American Football Conference (AFC) West division. They began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) and joined the NFL as part of the merger in 1970. The Broncos are owned by the Pat Bowlen trust and currently play home games at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Prior to that, they played at Mile High Stadium from 1960 to 2000.

See also

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