Billy Howton

William Harris Howton (born July 5, 1930) is a former American football player, an end in the National Football League (NFL) for twelve seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and expansion Dallas Cowboys.[1]

Howton caught a total 503 career passes for a total of 8,459 yards. In doing so, he surpassed then leader Don Hutson to become the all-time leader in receptions and yardage. (Since then his ranking has fallen to below 50.) Despite this, he has yet to be named a finalist in Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting. He retired after the 1963 season, after four years with Dallas.[2] In 2004, he was named to the Professional Football Researchers Association Hall of Very Good in the association's second HOVG class [3]

Billy Howton
refer to caption
1952 Bowman football card
No. 86, 81
Personal information
Born:July 5, 1930 (age 88)
Littlefield, Texas
Career information
High school:Plainview (TX)
NFL Draft:1952 / Round: 2 / Pick: 15
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:8,459
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Howton attended Plainview High School, where he lettered in football, basketball, and track and field.

Howton played college football at Rice Institute in Houston,[4] where he was nicknamed "Red Fox" not only for his hair color, but also for the way he ran pass patterns, which made him a great offensive end, establishing a season record for average yards (22.6) on pass receptions.

At the 1948 track and field regional meet in Lubbock, he had a time of 14.3 in the high hurdle event, setting a record that stood for several decades. In 1951, he won the high hurdle event in a track meet against the Texas A&M Aggies. He was also a notable runner in the low hurdles.

In 1951, he finished his college football career with 64 catches for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns, on his way to earn the following honors:

In 1971, he was inducted into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame.

Professional career

Green Bay Packers

Howton was selected in the second round of the 1952 NFL draft, fifteenth overall, by the Green Bay Packers. As a rookie, he earned immediate comparisons with hall of famer Don Hutson, with his speed, sure hands, and big-play ability. He established himself as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, with a league-leading 1,231 receiving yards.[4] He also set a rookie record with 13 touchdowns, which would last until 1965 when the total number was broken by Gale Sayers. His touchdown reception mark lasted until 1998, when it was broken by Randy Moss.

Howton became one of the most successful wide receivers in Packers history, while playing seven seasons in losing teams (26–56–2). During his seven years in Green Bay, he led his teams in receiving yards for six straight seasons (195257), led the league in receiving yards 2 times (1952 and 1956) and touchdown receptions once (1956). He caught 303 passes for 5,581 yards with an 18.4 yard average, scored 43 touchdowns and earned All-Pro in two seasons (195657) and Pro Bowl honors in four seasons (1952 and 195557).

He caught 13 touchdown passes in his 1952 rookie season. In his fifth season in 1956, Howton caught seven passes for a total of 257 yards against the Los Angeles Rams.

He set team records that still stand today:

  • Most receiving yards by a rookie with 1,231 yards in 1952
  • Highest yardage game with 257 yards against the Los Angeles Rams in 1956.
  • Two 200-plus receiving games - the only Packer receiver aside from Don Hutson, with four, to have more than one.

Howton was named the Packers' player representative and president of the NFL Players Association in 1958, and played a major role in establishing a pension fund for players, which was a debated topic with club owners at the time.

In January 1959, the Packers hired Vince Lombardi as head coach and general manager after the team's worst record ever (1–10–1) in 1958. In April, Lombardi traded Howton to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for defensive end Bill Quinlan and halfback Lew Carpenter.[5][6][7] Lombardi desired receivers who could block, which was not Howton's strength.[1][8]

Through the years, there has been speculation that his NFL Players Association ties were the real reason behind the trade.

Howton was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1974.

Cleveland Browns

Howton played only one season in Cleveland, leading the team in receptions with 39, and experiencing what would be the only winning campaign of his NFL career. At the start of the 1960 season, he notified the Browns his intentions to retire.

The expansion Dallas Cowboys convinced him to play in his home state and traded a draft choice to the Browns in exchange for his rights.

Dallas Cowboys

Howton was acquired by the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960. That season the Cowboys recorded only a tie, which came against the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium on December 4, when a late touchdown pass from Eddie LeBaron to Howton finalized a 31–31 comeback, against a team that had made championship game appearances in three of the previous four years. Following the season, Howton signed a three-year contract.[9]

The first win in franchise history came during the 1961 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27–24, with Howton contributing a game-high 138 receiving yards and a touchdown.

During his time with the Cowboys, Howton remained a key starter in a league-leading offense, that was composed by Eddie LeBaron, Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Frank Clarke, Dick Bielski, and Lee Folkins. He led the Cowboys in receiving in 1961 (with a career-high of 56 catches) and again in 1962.

On September 29, 1963, Howton became the NFL's all-time receiving leader, after breaking Don Hutson's record for career receptions and receiving yards. He retired after playing in 12 seasons with 503 catches, 8,459 yards and 61 touchdowns. Howton was also the top receiver from those players in the 1952 NFL draft including hall of famers Frank Gifford, Ollie Matson, and Hugh McElhenny. His 61 TDs are only two less than leader Matson.


  1. ^ a b Hendricks, Martin (November 22, 2007). "Howton sparkled during 'Forgettable '50s'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 23, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Howton, LeBaron will quit football". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. December 6, 1963. p. 13, part 2.
  3. ^ "Hall of Very Good". Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Bill Howton signs Green Bay pact". Victoria Advocate. Texas. United Press. June 30, 1954. p. 9.
  5. ^ Lea, Bud (April 25, 1959). "Howton goes to Browns". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 3, part 2.
  6. ^ Johnson, Chuck (April 25, 1959). "Packers trade Howton to Browns for Bill Quinlan and Lew Carpenter". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Bill Howton joins Browns". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. April 25, 1959. p. 8.
  8. ^ Johnson, Chuck (March 6, 1959). "Blockers first need of Packers, movies tell Vince Lombardi". Milwaukee Journal. p. 6, part 3.
  9. ^ "Howton signs with Dallas". Victoria Advocate. Texas. Associated Press. March 6, 1961. p. 11.

External links

1952 All-Pro Team

The 1952 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1952 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.

1952 Green Bay Packers season

The 1952 Green Bay Packers season was their 34th season overall and their 32nd season in the National Football League. The club posted a 6–6 record under third-year head coach Gene Ronzani for a fourth-place finish in the National Conference in 1952. After climbing to a 6–3 record, the Packers lost their final three games, but the .500 record was their best since 1947.

The Packers played their Milwaukee home games in Marquette Stadium during this season only, after using Wisconsin State Fair Park from 1934 through 1951. The new County Stadium became the venue in 1953, and hosted the Milwaukee home games through 1994, when they were discontinued.

Head coach Ronzani was a Marquette University alumnus (1933) and won nine varsity letters in college.

1957 All-Pro Team

The Associated Press (AP), Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York Daily News (NYDN), The Sporting News (SN), and United Press (UP) were among selectors of All-Pro teams comprising players adjudged to be the best at each position in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1957 NFL season. The AP, NEA, NYDN, and UPI selected a first and second team.

1961 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1961 Dallas Cowboys season was their second in the National Football League. The team finished with 4 wins, 9 losses, and 1 tie, placing them 6th in the Eastern Conference.

1962 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1962 Dallas Cowboys season was their third in the league. The team finished with a record of 5 wins, 8 losses, and 1 tie, placing them 5th in the NFL's Eastern Conference.

1963 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1963 Dallas Cowboys season was their fourth in the league. The Cowboys became the only professional football team in Dallas, when the Texans of the AFL announced their move to Kansas City. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 5–8–1, winning only four games. The Cowboys didn't qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Bob Forte

Robert Dominic "Bob" Forte (July 15, 1922 – March 12, 1996) was an American football halfback/defensive back/linebacker in the National Football League. He played for the Green Bay Packers (1946–1950, 1952–1953).

Bob Monnett

Robert C. Monnett (February 27, 1910 – August 2, 1978) was a professional American football player who played halfback for six seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.

Charley Brock

Charles Jacob "Charley" Brock (March 15, 1916 – May 25, 1987) was an American football center and linebacker.

Gern Nagler

Gern Nagler (born February 23, 1932) is a former American football end who played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL).

Nagler attended Marysville High School in Marysville, California. He later played college football at the University of Santa Clara, and was a captain of the varsity football team in his senior year.He was drafted in the 14th round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Prior to the season starting, the Browns completed a fifteen-player trade -- which set the NFL record for the largest trade ever executed -- that sent Nagler and nine other players to the Baltimore Colts. The Colts then waived him prior to the start of the 1953 NFL season. He was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cardinals. In his rookie season, Nagler set the Cardinals team record for receptions in a rookie season, with 43.Nagler missed the 1954 NFL season due to military service. While posted at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Nagler helped coach the base football team to a perfect 12-0 record and the All-Service Championship, winning the 1954 Poinsettia Bowl.He returned to the Cardinals in 1955, spending the next four seasons with the club. Nagler earned a Pro Bowl selection in 1958.Following his Pro Bowl year, Nagler was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent one season with the team. He was moved to the Cleveland Browns as part of a four-player New Year's Eve trade that included Steelers quarterback Len Dawson. Nagler finished his playing career after the 1961 NFL season, after two seasons with the Browns.Nagler was involved with the early efforts to organize a players' union, and was a key figure in the creation of the first players' pension. Nagler and Cleveland Browns end Billy Howton presented NFL Commissioner Bert Bell with a draft anti-trust lawsuit, threatening to file if the NFL did not immediately establish a pension for its players. The gambit worked, and the pension was formally established three years later.

Gerry Ellis

Gerry Ellis (born November 12, 1957

in Columbia, Missouri) is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay Packers records

This article details statistics relating to the Green Bay Packers.

Hank Bruder

Henry George "Hank" Bruder Jr. (November 22, 1907 – June 29, 1970) was an American football player in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Green Bay Packers from 1931 to 1939 and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1972. Bruder attended Northwestern University, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.He was part of the offensive line that blocked for Pro Football Hall of Fame back Johnny "Blood" McNally.

Hank Gremminger

Charles Henry "Hank" Gremminger (September 1, 1933 – November 2, 2001) was an American football player, a defensive back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played ten seasons for the Green Bay Packers (1956–1965) and one for the Los Angeles Rams in 1966.

List of Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl selections

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. The team has had representatives to the Pro Bowl every year since 1950 except for nine seasons. Below is a list of the Pro Bowl selections for each season.

List of National Football League annual receiving yards leaders

In American football, passing, along with running (also referred to as rushing), is one of the two main methods of advancing the ball down the field. Passes are typically attempted by the quarterback, but any offensive player can attempt a pass provided they are behind the line of scrimmage. To qualify as a passing play, the ball must have initially moved forward after leaving the hands of the passer; if the ball initially moved laterally or backwards, the play would instead be considered a running play. A player who catches a forward pass is a receiver, and the number of receiving yards each player has recorded in each season is a recorded stat in football games. In addition to the overall National Football League (NFL) receiving champion, league record books recognize statistics from the American Football League (AFL), which operated from 1960 to 1969 before being absorbed into the NFL in 1970, Although league record books do not recognize stats from the All-America Football Conference, another league that merged with the NFL, these statistics are recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The NFL did not begin keeping official records until the 1932 season. The average the yards the leader has gained has increased over time – since the adoption of the 14-game season in 1961, all but one season saw the receiving leader record over 1,000 yards. No player has ever finished with over 2,000 receiving yards in a season; the current record is 1,964 yards, set by Calvin Johnson during the 2012 season. Wes Chandler, who led the league with 1,032 yards in the strike-shortened 1982 season, averaged 129 yards receiving per game, an NFL record.Don Hutson led the league in receiving yards seven times, the most of any player; Jerry Rice is second with six. Hutson also recorded the most consecutive seasons leading the league in receiving, doing so for five seasons from 1941 to 1945, while Jerry Rice ranks second with three consecutive league-leading seasons from 1993 to 1995. A Green Bay Packers player has led the league in receiving yards eleven times, the most in the NFL; the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams rank second with nine league-leading seasons. The most recent receiving yards leader was Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, who recorded 1,677 receiving yards over the 2018 season.

Nate Barragar

Nathan Robert Barragar (June 3, 1907 – August 10, 1985) was an American collegiate and professional football player.

Pete Tinsley

Elijah Pope "Pete" Tinsley (March 16, 1913 – May 11, 1995) was a professional football player, born in Sumter, South Carolina, who played guard, defense and offense for eight seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1979.

Whitey Woodin

Howard Lee "Whitey" Woodin (January 29, 1894 – February 7, 1974) was an American football player. He played with the Racine Legion and the Green Bay Packers and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973. After retiring from football, Woodin remained in Green Bay and worked for many years at Falls Power and Paper Company.


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