September 28, 2015

Highlighted Year: Willie Buchanon, 1978

Cornerback, Green Bay Packers

Age: 28 (Nov. 4)
7th season in pro football & with Packers
College: San Diego State
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 190

Following a college career that was capped by receiving All-America honors and being named MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, Buchanon was taken by the Packers in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft (seventh overall) and moved directly into the starting lineup. He combined with Ken Ellis to create a fast and effective cornerback tandem and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press and NFC Rookie of the Year by the NEA. Buchanon suffered a broken leg six games into the 1973 season that cost him the remainder of the year but he still received Pro Bowl recognition. He was chosen again in ’74 but once again broke his leg two games into the 1975 season. Buchanon returned to spend two injury-free years with the Packers in 1976 and ’77 and intercepted four passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

1978 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 9 [2, tied with Ken Stone, 1st in NFC]
Most interceptions, game – 4 at San Diego 9/24
Int. return yards – 93 [20]
Most int. return yards, game – 77 (on 4 int.) at San Diego 9/24
Int. TDs – 1 [4, tied with many others]
Fumble recoveries – 1

TDs – 1
Points – 6

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Pro Football Weekly
2nd team All-NFL: NEA
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Packers went 8-7-1 to finish second in the NFC Central, their first season with a winning record in six years. 

Having played out his option, Buchanon moved on to San Diego in 1979 where he was reunited with his college coach, Don Coryell. He played four seasons for the Chargers, until 1982, and retired with a total of 28 interceptions (21 of them with the Packers). Buchanon was named to a total of three Pro Bowls and received All-NFL honors once.


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