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Old 09-10-2008, 04:15 PM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Covitz:Former Chiefs great Sherrill Headrick dies at 71

Former Chiefs great Sherrill Headrick dies at 71
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star

Linebacker Sherrill Headrick, one of the most colorful characters during the early days of the Chiefs franchise, died Thursday after a battle with cancer.

He was 71. Headrick, inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1993, was an AFL original. The man they called “Psycho” because of his fearless style of play, reckless style of living and being undersized for his position, was a five-time AFL All-Star and the franchise's starting middle linebacker in the 1962 and 1966 AFL championship games and the first Super Bowl.

“He was a fantastic football player,” said former Chiefs tight end Fred Arbanas. “Sherrill was so quick, most of the offensive linemen couldn’t get to him. He was such a wild man, people didn’t realize he was such a student of the game. Teams would come out in different formations, and he knew exactly where the ball was going to go.”

The most remarkable - and legendary - aspect of Headrick's career was his ability to play through injuries. Headrick, 6-foot-2, played at slightly more than 200 pounds during his career, and some of that weight was over his belt. Still, he played in the franchise's first 110 games before missing three games late in 1967, his final season in Kansas City.

Until then, a fractured thumb, sprained back, two hemorrhoid operations and even a cracked vertebra failed to keep him out of the lineup.

Headrick's most frightening injury occurred in 1960, when he collided with a receiver during pre-game warm-ups at Houston. Though his neck hurt, Headrick played the game, and two days later he learned he had cracked a vertebra. But he played the next week at Denver.

"That's why they called him Psycho," quarterback Len Dawson said. "Who would play with a broken neck?" Headrick had a simple explanation for playing through the pain. “Back then, we had only 33 players on the roster," Headrick said at the time of his induction into the Chiefs Hall of Fame. "If you got hurt, someone would take your job. I had a lot of injuries, but fortunately not any I couldn't play with."

That mentality applied to exhibition games as well. In a preseason game against Houston one year, Headrick's hand got tangled in the pads of Oilers' fullback Charlie Tolar, causing a compound fracture of the left thumb.

The ligaments were torn, and bone was protruding from the flesh. Headrick asked trainer Wayne Rudy to tape the thumb with a tongue depressor and rushed back onto the field. He missed one play. The injuries took their toll, and during the last 10 years of his life, arthritis made it difficult for Headrick to walk. He attended the last few Chiefs Alumni Weekends in a wheelchair.

"I've been a cripple for years,.” Headrick said at his Hall of Fame induction. “People ask, would you do it again? I would have liked to have made more money, but it was the most enjoyable thing in the whole world to me. Playing with all the guys, playing in the first Super Bowl, most people don't accomplish nearly as much in sports."

Headrick played college football at TCU but left after his junior season and spent 1959 in Canada. While working in the west Texas and New Mexico oil fields during the off-season, he became one of the first players to sign with Lamar Hunt’s team in 1960, though he wasn't sure whether he had joined the Texans of the upstart AFL or the expansion Cowboys of the NFL.

Both teams were recruiting players with Texas backgrounds, and Headrick received a contract from "Dallas" that offered a $500 signing bonus. Headrick, thinking the offer was from the Texans, called minority investor Don Looney and told him he wanted $1,000.

"They told me, `We haven't sent out the contracts yet,' " Headrick recalled. "Then they sent one with a $1,000 bonus, so I was one of the first players to sign with them."

Headrick nearly didn't survive the Texans' first training camp in Roswell, N.M. He had a slight back injury and did not practice for several weeks. Headrick probably would have been released after the final exhibition, but starting middle linebacker Ted Greene was held out of that game because of an injury, and Houston kept gaining big yardage with a trap play.

"Hunter Enis, who also was my quarterback at TCU, was on the phones and kept telling the coaches to put Sherrill in," Headrick recalled. "He knew I could stop it. They put me in, I stopped it, and if it wasn't for Ted Greene being hurt..."

Greene never regained his starting spot, and Headrick became a fixture in the middle during an era in which middle linebackers dominated defenses.

Green Bay had Ray Nitschke. The New York Giants had Sam Huff. The Boston Patriots had Nick Buoniconti. The Dallas Texans had Sherrill Headrick.

Not only was Headrick tough against the run, he had 14 career interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. He also blocked a 42-yard field-goal attempt by Houston's George Blanda late in the fourth quarter of the 1962 AFL title game, an epic won by the Dallas Texans, 20-17 in two overtimes.

“Sherrill was one of the best linebackers I've been around as far as diagnosing plays and understanding what's happening as the ball is being snapped," said former Chiefs assistant coach Tom Pratt. "He had a great sense to make the play and get to the football."

In 1967, the Chiefs drafted Willie Lanier and Jim Lynch and let Headrick go to Cincinnati in the 1968 expansion draft.

"The new linebackers got bigger, stronger and faster," Headrick said. "I never did." Headrick performed well in Cincinnati before suffering a slipped disk during a tackling drill. He retired after the 1968 season.

During the next 15 years, he worked at various jobs and businesses, including ownership in a fried-chicken franchise in Texas, but the aftereffects of football took their toll, and Headrick began collecting disability from the NFL at age 45.
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:15 PM   #2
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Chiefs Lose Ring of Honor Member

Just got this from the guy who runs the "Remember the AFL" Website.
Look for a mention of this before Sunday's Home Opener. Sherrill is a Chiefs HOFer and is on the Ring of Honor. Been in bad health for several years. He was a great Chiefs Linebacker with EJ Holub, before Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier came to prominence:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 10, 2008


CHIEFS MOURN THE LOSS OF LB SHERRILL HEADRICK

The Kansas City Chiefs organization lost a treasured member of its history today as Chiefs Hall of Fame LB Sherrill Headrick passed away at the age of 71.
Headrick, the hard-nosed linebacker from Waco, Texas, was a member of the organization from ’60-67. He earned the nickname “Psycho” from his teammates for his rambunctious nature and style of play between the lines. Headrick was named to five All-AFL squads (’61-62, ’64-66) and appeared in 108 regular season contests as one of the league’s best middle linebackers.
Inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in ’93, Headrick posted 14 interceptions during his eight-year Texans/Chiefs career, returning three for touchdowns. He played in both the ’62 and ’66 AFL title game wins, as well as Super Bowl I. Prior to joining the Chiefs, Headrick played one season at offensive guard, center and linebacker in Canada (’59). He played collegiately at TCU.
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:16 PM   #3
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Picture of his Topps 1965 football card:
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:17 PM   #4
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Oh, man. Very sad. Thanks for posting though, Mr. gblowfish.

RIP Sherrill.

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Old 09-10-2008, 04:20 PM   #5
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:21 PM   #6
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Wow. What a difference 50 years makes. Could you imagine one of today's players going back in the game with a bone sticking out of their thumb? Never happen.

RIP Sherrill. Go with God.

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Old 09-10-2008, 04:22 PM   #7
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I just noticed ... did they spell his name incorrectly on his card?

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Old 09-10-2008, 04:23 PM   #8
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Prayers for him and his family. Say hi to D.T. and Buck.
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:25 PM   #9
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For those of you who are younger, and never heard of this guy, he was a real life character. Here's his bio from the All-AFL website run by Ange Coniglio, who is a huge AFL fan in Buffalo. This will give you some insight as to why Headrick was a special player:

http://www.conigliofamily.com/Texans...ERRILLHEADRICK

An original Dallas Texan out of Texas Christian University, Sherrill Headrick was considered the Texans' and the early Chiefs' best linebacker, a hard-nosed, all-giving player. He left TCU after three seasons and played one season at offensive guard, center and linebacker in the Canadian Football League (1959) before joining the Texans for the initial AFL season, signing as a free agent.

His teammates called him "Psycho" for his rambunctious nature, a reputation he fueled by banging his head against his locker and working himself up to the point of nausea before games. The nickname also befit his style of play: in his first year with the Texans, Headrick set the standard for playing hurt, after fracturing a vertebrae in his neck in a collision in warm-ups before a game with the Houston Oilers. Despite feeling pain in his neck, he played the entire game. He learned of the fracture five days later, but went on to play the following week.

Hank Stram said that Headrick, who refused to wear hip pads, had the highest pain threshold he'd ever seen in an athlete. Headrick played with a broken neck, infected gums, and a fractured thumb. When an injury left the bone in his finger protrding from the skin, he popped the bones in place without missing a play.

Headrick had fourteen interceptions during his eight-year Texans/Chiefs career, returning three for touchdowns. He played in the franchise's 1962 and 1966 AFL title game wins and in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

He was All-AFL in 1960, and an American Football League All-Star in 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966. Headrick was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 AFL expansion draft and played for them one season.
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:33 PM   #10
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Wow...dude sounds like a beast. If only Croyle could endure a little pain...

RIP
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FAX View Post
I just noticed ... did they spell his name incorrectly on his card?

FAX
Definitely seems that way, Mr. FAX. How odd.
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:47 PM   #12
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If you have the history of Chiefs DVD they got a really good segment on him. Also the Remember the AFL site is outstanding.
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Old 09-10-2008, 05:06 PM   #13
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Old 09-10-2008, 05:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gblowfish View Post
For those of you who are younger, and never heard of this guy, he was a real life character. Here's his bio from the All-AFL website run by Ange Coniglio, who is a huge AFL fan in Buffalo. This will give you some insight as to why Headrick was a special player:

http://www.conigliofamily.com/Texans...ERRILLHEADRICK

An original Dallas Texan out of Texas Christian University, Sherrill Headrick was considered the Texans' and the early Chiefs' best linebacker, a hard-nosed, all-giving player. He left TCU after three seasons and played one season at offensive guard, center and linebacker in the Canadian Football League (1959) before joining the Texans for the initial AFL season, signing as a free agent.

His teammates called him "Psycho" for his rambunctious nature, a reputation he fueled by banging his head against his locker and working himself up to the point of nausea before games. The nickname also befit his style of play: in his first year with the Texans, Headrick set the standard for playing hurt, after fracturing a vertebrae in his neck in a collision in warm-ups before a game with the Houston Oilers. Despite feeling pain in his neck, he played the entire game. He learned of the fracture five days later, but went on to play the following week.

Hank Stram said that Headrick, who refused to wear hip pads, had the highest pain threshold he'd ever seen in an athlete. Headrick played with a broken neck, infected gums, and a fractured thumb. When an injury left the bone in his finger protrding from the skin, he popped the bones in place without missing a play.

Headrick had fourteen interceptions during his eight-year Texans/Chiefs career, returning three for touchdowns. He played in the franchise's 1962 and 1966 AFL title game wins and in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

He was All-AFL in 1960, and an American Football League All-Star in 1961, 1962, 1965 and 1966. Headrick was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 AFL expansion draft and played for them one season.
Dude was hardcore.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:18 PM   #15
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