April 30, 2015

Highlighted Year: Tony Banfield, 1961

Cornerback, Houston Oilers

Age: 24 (Dec. 18)
2nd season in pro football & with Oilers
College: Oklahoma State
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 185

Banfield was a running back as well as defensive back in college and gained 1183 yards from scrimmage over three seasons and scored 15 touchdowns. Undrafted in 1960, he signed with the Oilers of the new AFL, who originally tried him in the offensive backfield before shifting him to cornerback. He showed promise as a rookie, intercepting three passes although hindered by ankle and leg injuries. While lacking ideal speed, he proved to be adept as a ball hawk and at breaking up passes.

1961 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 8 [4, tied with Bob Zeman]
Most interceptions, game – 2 vs. Oakland 9/9, vs. San Diego 12/3
Int. return yards – 136 [7]
Most int. return yards, game – 58 (on 1 int.) vs. NY Titans 11/19
Int. TDs – 0

Postseason: 1 G (AFL Championship at San Diego)
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-AFL: League, AP, UPI, Sporting News
2nd team All-AFL: NY Daily News

Oilers went 10-3-1 to finish first in the AFL Eastern Division. Won AFL Championship over San Diego Chargers (10-3).  

Banfield followed up by being a consensus first-team All-AFL selection in each of the next two seasons, although a knee injury limited his use during the second half of the 1963 season and he split time with Mark Johnston. He missed the entire ’64 season while rehabbing from the injury and, while he returned, he was a lesser performer in 1965, his last season. In an outstanding, if injury-shortened, career with the Oilers, Banfield intercepted 27 passes and received first-team All-AFL honors three times.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970