Al Del Greco
Team: Houston Oilers
Career: In perhaps the biggest regular season game in franchise history, the 7-1 Oilers traveled to the 8-0 Washington Redskins in November of 1991. With 4 seconds left in a tied game, Houston kicker Ian Howfield missed a 33-yard chip shot, and the Oilers eventually fell in overtime, 16-13. Howfield was cut the next day. Meanwhile, as Howfield was imploding, Al Del Greco was busy packing, as he was on his way to Alabama to begin his career as a box salesman. He trip took a slight detour to Houston.
After a rough start, Del Greco went on to become the team’s all-time leading scorer. In his five full seasons in Houston, he set four of the franchise’s top 8 single season scoring marks, while setting the record for most consecutive games with at least one score. He also holds the top two marks for most consecutive PAT’s.
Del Greco is one of only four Oilers to score 100 points in a season, joining the elite company of George Blanda, Earl Campbell and Tony Zendejas. And while he made his home in the friendly confines of the Astrodome, Del Greco was not afraid to kick in hostile territory, owning a higher success rate on the road for his career.
A bit of a journeyman prior to landing in Houston, Del Greco is also a scratch golfer, having been named Best Pro Athlete Golfer by Golf Magazine. In 1993, he won the NFL Cadillac Classic, netting $20,000, which he generously donated to various charities.
Houston Highlight: After the Howfield miss (and Redskin loss), the Oilers had to quickly regroup, as Dallas was coming to town the following week in what would be Del Greco’s debut. Amazingly, the Oilers were again in position to win the football game, tied with 35 seconds left. Enter Del Greco, and the memory of Howfield.
In a bizarre twist, Del Greco missed his potential game winner too (the 41-yarder hit the upright), and the Oilers were forced to play an extra period. Unlike Howfield, however, Del Greco would get the opportunity to redeem himself — sort of.
The Oilers did all they could to avoid putting Del Greco back on the field, driving to Dallas’ three-yard line as the clock wound down in the first overtime. But a botched hand-off brought Del Greco on, and he iced the game with a 23-yard chip shot. He and the team never looked back.