December 2, 2015

Highlighted Year: Butch Byrd, 1965

Cornerback, Buffalo Bills

Age: 24 (Sept. 20)
2nd season in pro football & with Bills
College: Boston Univ.
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 211

Byrd was an outstanding runner, pass receiver, and kick returner in college in addition to his play on defense. He was chosen by the Bills in the fourth round of the 1964 AFL draft and immediately moved into the starting lineup, intercepting 7 passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He received second-team All-AFL honors from the NEA and was chosen to the AFL All-Star Game while the Bills won the AFL Championship.

1965 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 5 [9, tied with six others]
Most interceptions, game – 2 at Oakland 11/14
Int. return yards – 119 [5]
Most int. return yards, game – 66 (on 2 int.) at Oakland 11/14
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0

Punt Returns
Returns – 22 [3]
Yards – 220 [4]
Most yards, game – 42 (on 3 ret.) at San Diego 11/25
Average per return – 10.0 [4]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 30 yards

Postseason: 1 G (AFL Championship at San Diego)
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 24
TDs – 0

Punt returns – 3
Punt return yards – 87
TDs – 1
Longest return – 74 yards

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

Bills went 10-3-1 to finish first in the AFL Eastern Division while leading the league in interceptions (32) and fewest points allowed (226). Won AFL Championship over San Diego Chargers (23-0).

Byrd followed up with another outstanding season in 1966, intercepting six passes, returning one for a touchdown, and averaging 8.1 yards on his 23 punt returns that also included a TD. He played another four years for the Bills and continued to perform at a high level, even as the team’s record dropped off. He was named to two more AFL All-Star Games, was a consensus first-team All-AFL choice in 1969 and a second-team selection in ’68. After starting 143 consecutive games through 1970, he was dealt to Denver just prior to the ’71 season, his last. Overall, Byrd intercepted 40 passes for 666 yards, all with Buffalo and both team records, and returned five of them for touchdowns. He also returned 86 punts for a 7.0 average and one TD, with another score on a punt return in the postseason. Byrd was a consensus All-AFL first-team choice three times and was named to five AFL All-Star Games.


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