Don Floyd

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Don Floyd
Defensive End
Houston Oilers

Career: It was a brave new world that Don Floyd stepped into in 1960. The wiry defensive lineman earned All-America honors at TCU and enjoyed the thought of staying in Texas to play for the Houston Oilers of the new American Football League. But how long could the upstart league last?

Long enough. Floyd played eight years for the Oilers and spearheaded an often overlooked defense that won two AFL championships. Floyd appeared in four AFL title games.

Pro football was a different game then. There was no artificial turf, no agents, no big-money contracts. MRI’s and arthroscopic surgeries hadn’t been invented yet. The Oilers’ first home field was an expanded high school park with nails for lockers and a distinctly foul smell. On the defensive line, it was a tough life too. Head slaps and crackbacks were still legal. Blood, mud and fistfights were common back then.

At 6’3" and 240 lbs., Floyd would be considered too small for today’s NFL line. But back in the early 60s, Don was among the best. Lining up primarily as a defensive end, Floyd used a combination of strength and speed to make a presence the opposition had to account for on every play.

In his rookie season, Don earned considerable playing time as the new Houston team looked for a lineup that could gel into a winner. The Oilers won the Eastern Division and toppled the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-16, for the first AFL crown. Floyd and the defense shut down Jack Kemp (yes, that Jack Kemp) whenever the Chargers threatened to score.

While George Blanda and the pass-happy offense wrote the records and made the headlines in 1961, it was Floyd and the defense which rose to the occasion in the AFL title game that year in San Diego. The two teams combined for 17 turnovers and 174 yards in penalties during a bruising fight-filled donnybrook. Kemp never saw the Houston end zone and the Oilers were champions again, 10-3. Don made the All-AFL team.

Don would make the first-team All-AFL squad again in 1962, along with making his first interception and first touchdown. The Oilers won their third straight Eastern Division title but lost the championship to the Dallas Texans in a classic double-overtime battle.

Floyd and the Oilers both struggled through a disappointing 1963 season but Don came back the next year with a solid effort. He scored his second pro touchdown and might have had another if a Denver Bronco player had not yanked his pants down as he tried to run with the ball on a turnover. Again, he received postseason honors.

Like the Oilers themselves, Floyd was a victim of a league that was not only getting more competitive but also bigger and faster. Injuries and a lack of size took their toll on Don as the Oilers hit bottom in 1965 and 1966. With fresh faces and the return of coach Wally Lemm, the defense took charge in 1967 and won the Eastern Division of the AFL for the last time. Floyd had a limited role due to injuries and a youth movement.

Floyd, Bob Talamini and Jim Norton were the last original Oilers that did battle for a Super Bowl berth in 1967. His role in putting Houston on the pro football map cannot be overlooked.

Houston Highlight: In one of the last snaps of his career, Floyd blew past Harry Schuh on a reverse play and nailed Oakland receiver Fred Biletnikoff for a seven-yard loss late in the Oilers’ 40-7 defeat at Oakland in the 1967 AFL Championship game. It was one last hurrah for an AFL legend. Don Floyd Don Floyd Return to Houston Pro Football Archives Find out who else has made the All-Time Team.