Position: Middle Linebacker
Team: Houston Oilers; Houston Texans
Years: 1966-1972; 1974
Career: The Houston Texans have their first member voted to the All-Time Team. But he didn’t wear a bull on his helmet. Garland Boyette wore the green-and-gold of the short-lived Houston Texans of the World Football League in 1974. He stayed with the team when they moved to Shreveport and ended his pro football career there in 1975 at the age of 35.
Boyette was a legendary athlete during his high school days around the Golden Triangle in the late fifties. He starred at Grambling University, earning Little All-America honors. Boyette competed in track-and-field as well as football and tried out for the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in the decathlon.
His pro football career began in 1962 with the NFL St. Louis Cardinals. He played two seasons under head coach Wally Lemm. When Lemm returned to the Oilers in 1966, he remembered Garland.
Boyette had spent two seasons in the Canadian Football League where he began to focus his defensive skills. Signing with the Oilers in 1966, the sturdy 6’1", 240-pounder filled in at outside linebacker, middle linebacker and defensive end, where he occasionally lined up beside his little nephew, 6-9, 300-pound DT Ernie Ladd. Boyette also returned three kickoffs for 42 yards that year.
Garland found a home at middle linebacker in 1967 as the Oilers used a stingy defense to win the AFL Eastern Division crown. Boyette would get his first pro interception in 1968 and was named to the AFL All-Star team. He was one of ten Oilers to play in the final AFL All-Star game the following season.
While speedy George Webster and Ron Pritchard patrolled the borders of the Houston defense, Boyette’s specialty was stuffing the run. His talents allowed others like Webster and Elvin Bethea to gamble more on defense. Garland made his second career interception in 1970 and scored a touchdown in 1971 on a fumble return.
After Lemm retired in 1970, Boyette fell out of favor with the new Oiler coaches. He was benched and finally cut in 1973, after Gregg Bingham was drafted to fill his position. The Oiler defense didn’t get much support from the offense during the late sixties and early seventies. And whatever success they had, Garland Boyette was right in the middle of it.
Houston Highlight: In a critical 1967 mid-season contest against the defending AFC East champion Buffalo Bills in Rice Stadium, Boyette spearheaded a dramatic goal-line stand at the end of the game to preserve a 10-3 victory. The Oilers used the triumph as a springboard to win five of their next seven and capture the Eastern Division title.