The annual Big Red alumni Christmas party was recently held at Circa Pub & Grill in Des Peres, MO. The following former players were in attendance: Dan Dierdorf, Jackie Smith, Johnny Roland, Eric Williams, Terry Miller, Keith Wortman, Irv Goode, … Continue reading →
Ulmo Shannon “Sonny” Randle was born in Washington, DC, on January 6, 1936, to Ulmo S. and Lillian D. Randle. Sonny attended Fork Union Military Academy where he excelled in track and field but didn’t play football until his senior season.
Randle enrolled at the University of Virginia, walked on, and eventually earned a scholarship. In 1958, Sonny was an honorable mention All American when he caught 47 passes and was the country’s top kick returner, averaging 24.1 yards.
The Chicago Cardinals drafted Randle in the 19th round in 1958, but the speedster struggled to adapt in the NFL catching only 15 passes his rookie season.
However, with the help of teammates Dick “Night Train” Lane and Jimmy Hill, Randle learned how to get “open” and would become one of the great receivers over the next decade.
St. Louis Bound
The Cardinals relocated to St. Louis in 1960 and opened the season with a 43-21 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Sonny caught 7 passes for 159 yards and scored three long touchdowns. “Randle had a phenomenal game,” head coach Pop Ivy stated after victory.
Sonny didn’t stop there. By season’s end, he set franchise records with 62 receptions and 15 touchdowns (still tops in Cardinals history). He was named to the Pro Bowl and first-team NFL All-Pro.
Big Red alumni, friends, and fans came together for a fun afternoon on Sunday at Circa Pub & Grill in Des Peres, MO. Jackie Smith, Mel Gray, Johnny Roland, Irv Goode, Eddie Moss, Ron Yankowski, Bob Rowe, former assistant trainer … Continue reading →
Bobby Joe Conrad was born November 17, 1935, in Clifton, Texas, and attended Clifton High School, where he was an All-state quarterback. Conrad led the team to back-to-back district championships in 1952 and 1953 and, as a senior, scored 207 points and took Clifton to the state semifinals.
Conrad accepted a football scholarship from Texas A&M University to play under head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He played quarterback, halfback, fullback and end for the Aggies and was a member of the school’s 1956 SWC Championship team.
Conrad participated in the 1958 Chicago College All-Star Game and although he had never attempted a kick in college, he set a scoring record by kicking 4 field goals and 3 extra points. He also intercepted one pass in the 35-19 upset of the 1957 NFL Champion Detroit Lions.
Conrad’s play in the College All-Star game caught the attention of NFL scouts and he was selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round (58th overall) of the 1958 NFL Draft. A few months later, he was traded along with safety Dick Nolan to the Chicago Cardinals, in exchange for EndPat Summerall and halfback Lindon Crow.
The Texas native intercepted four passes at defensive back his rookie season in 1958 and also did some place kicking. He was switched to a full time wide receiver in 1961 and caught 30 passes. The following season he caught 62 passes for 953 yards.
Former Big Red and Washington Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz has died at the age of 72
Butz was an All-American defensive lineman at Purdue when the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. The Chicago native arrived late to camp in 1973 because of a contract squabble but played pretty well during his rookie season. Unfortunately, Butz suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 1974 season opener and didn’t play another game for the Cardinals. The 6-foot-7, 290-pound lineman and Big Red Director of Operations Joe Sullivan could not come to an agreement on a new contract in 1974 so Butz left for Washington.
“He asked for a guaranteed, no-cut contract and he asked for multi-contracts,” Sullivan told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “The things he was asking for make people fat, dumb and happy. I couldn’t agree to All-Pro wages. He’s a nice kid. There’s never been a problem with Dave . . . except money.”
Because of the Rozelle Rule, Washington was forced to turn over two first round draft picks to the Cardinals for signing Butz, but it was well worth it as the mammoth lineman would go on to play over 200 games in 14 seasons with the Redskins and helped them to two Super Bowl victories. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1983 and later inducted into their Ring Of Fame. He was also named to the second team of the 1980s All-Decade Team.
New Mexico State University recently announced that former Big Red quarterback Dr. Charley Johnson is this year’s recipient of the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.
Johnson is one of eight NMSU alumni being honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration on October 21st. They will also be recognized at the homecoming football game against San Jose State on October 22nd at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and charitable service.
“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” said Derek Dictson, President, NMSU Foundation.
Johnson quarterbacked the Aggies to two winning appearances in the Sun Bowl in 1959 and 1960 and was the first two-time C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player. After graduating in 1961, he was selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the NFL draft. The Big Spring, Texas native took over as starter in his second season and led the Big Red to a 30-15-3 record from 1963-1966. He led the NFL in completions (223), attempts (420), and yards (3,045) in 1964. He also led the NFL in fourth quarter comebacks in 1966 and 1968 and twice threw six touchdowns in a game during his nine year career with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1970 and finished his career in Denver where he was inducted into their Ring of Honor in 1986. See Charley’s NFL statistics.
After Cardinals management decided not to retain star running back Terry Metcalf in 1978, new head coach Bud Wilkinson searched the entire season for an outside threat to complement the inside running of Wayne Morris and Jim Otis. That problem was solved in 1979 after the Big Red selected Ottis Jerome (O.J.) Anderson with the eighth pick in the 1979 NFL draft.
“His durability, his speed, his attitude, his ability to catch the ball,” a pleased Bud Wilkinson told the St. Louis Post Dispatch after the Cards chose the West Palm Beach, Florida native. “There were so many factors. This is something we’ve been discussing for three months. There was no doubt who we wanted. The question was whether he’d be available.”
Cardinals personnel director George Boone added, “We feel that he has the great moves that we’ve been hunting for. We haven’t had those in quite a while.”
“I always believed I was the No. 1 back in the country,” Anderson told the Post Dispatch. “I was happy to be picked in the first round, but I wasn’t surprised.”
Playing in the shadow of Chuck Foreman at the University of Miami (FL), Anderson set several school records including Foreman’s single-season rushing record in 1978.
Jimmy Burson passed away on August 2 at the age of 81.
Burson was the Cardinals’ eleventh-round selection in the 1963 NFL draft. He was an outstanding offensive back at Auburn where he set a school record with a 105-yard kickoff return.
The Cardinals switched the Georgia native to defense where he gained a starting role at cornerback in 1964 and intercepted three passes. He also returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers. The fleet corner picked off five passes in 1965 and two more in 1966.
The Cardinals traded Burson to the Washington Redskins in 1968, but he was soon after acquired by the Atlanta Falcons. Burson intercepted four passes in 1968 before calling it a career.
Following his playing career, Burson began coaching at the high school level in The Atlanta area. The highlight of his career was a 12-year stint as head coach at Milton High School from 1974-1985.
There was no better all-purpose running back in the late 1950s/early ’60s than the Cardinals’ John David Crow. The 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pounder was strong, had quick feet, great balance, was an excellent receiver, fantastic blocker, and may have been the best passer on the team for a couple of seasons.
“He’s big and strong and tough,” Chicago Cardinals head coach Frank “Pop” Ivy told the Chicago Tribune about his star running back in 1959. “I’ll tell you, he’s what we call a wiggler. It’s an almost indefinable quality. When the opposing defense is tight, he’ll bull his way into a hole, then suddenly wiggle through for extra yardage.”
Legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once called John David Crow “the finest player” he ever coached. Crow won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Bryant at Texas A&M in 1957. Later that year the Chicago Cardinals selected him as the second overall pick in the 1958 NFL Draft.
The rookie scored his first career touchdown when he recovered a fumble in the endzone against the New York Giants in the 1958 season opener. The following week he dashed for an 83-yard touchdown on the first play of the game and later added another score in a 37-10 win over Washington.
“He used that wiggle I was talking about,” Ivy explained after the game. “After he got into the secondary, he had no blocking at all. He was strictly on his own. He wiggled past a couple of defensive backs, and then simply outran everybody to the goal line.”
Crow scored a 91-yard touchdown a week later and was well on his way to rookie of the year honors, but a knee injury would slow him down and limit him to only 8 games his freshman season.