Lance Rentzel

Thomas Lance Rentzel (born October 14, 1943) is a former American football flanker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma.

Lance Rentzel
No. 19, 13
Position:Wide receiver / Running back
Personal information
Born:October 14, 1943 (age 75)
Flushing, New York
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:202 lb (92 kg)
Career information
High school:Oklahoma City (OK) Casady
NFL Draft:1965 / Round: 2 / Pick: 23
AFL draft:1965 / Round: 6 / Pick: 48
(by the Buffalo Bills)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:4,826
Rushing yards:196
Return yards:1,000
Total touchdowns:42
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Rentzel was a four-sport star at Casady School (football, basketball, baseball and track) in Oklahoma City, and also an All-American high school halfback.[1] He was also brainy, valedictorian at Oklahoma City’s exclusive Casady School, and talented enough to bang out more than a few tunes on the piano.

He accepted a football scholarship from the University of Oklahoma under famous coach Bud Wilkinson. As a sophomore, he came off the injured list too late and had to hitchhike to Texas to play in the third game against the #2 ranked Longhorns (he had 2 long receptions).

As a junior, he posted 59 carries for 387 yards (second on the team) with a 6.6-yard average and 2 touchdowns. He was a versatile all-around halfback and was known for his open-field speed and propensity for big plays rushing, receiving passes and returning kicks.

During his senior year in 1964, he was the team's top pass catcher (268 receiving yards) and punter (40.5-yard average). His 491 rushing yards ranked second on the team. In the Big Eight Conference, his 5.4 rushing average was second only to Gale Sayers.[2] He also was the conference's No. 3 pass receiver, as well as No. 2 punter.[3]

He was one of four Sooners players who missed the 1965 Gator Bowl game against Florida State University. Rentzel, offensive lineman Ralph Neely, Jim Grisham, and Wes Skidgel had signed with professional teams before the game and were ruled ineligible for the contest.[4] Florida State won 36–19 on the strength of 4 touchdown catches by Fred Biletnikoff.[5]

Professional career

Minnesota Vikings

Rentzel was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round (23rd overall) of the 1965 NFL draft. He was also selected in the sixth round (48th overall) of the 1965 AFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.[6]

He played sparingly as a backup running back due to recurring injuries and his contributions came mainly as a kickoff returner during his first two seasons. Rentzel set the record for the longest kickoff return (101 yards) in franchise history as a rookie, which was broken by Aundrae Allison's 104-yarder in 2007 and Cordarrelle Patterson's 109-yarder in 2013.[7][8]

In 1966, Rentzel only played in 9 games due to ankle injuries. He averaged 20.1 yards on 9 kickoff returns and caught 2 passes for 10 yards. On May 2, 1967, Rentzel was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a third-round draft choice (#76-Mike McGill).[9]

Dallas Cowboys

1967 season

In 1967, the Dallas Cowboys converted Rentzel into a flanker, where he became not only an immediate starter over Pete Gent but also one of the best wideouts in the NFL. Rentzel led the team in receptions with 58 for 996 yards (two yards less than Bob Hayes). If Rentzel had gotten 4 more yards and Hayes 2 more, it would have been the first time in NFL history that a team had two 1,000-yard wide receivers. In the tenth game against the Washington Redskins, Rentzel set a franchise record with 13 receptions for 223 yards. He also starred in the 1967 NFL Championship, known since as the "Ice Bowl", scoring a fourth quarter, go-ahead touchdown later negated by the Packers' game-clinching drive.

1968 and 1969 seasons

In 1968, Rentzel led the Cowboys in receptions (54) and receiving yards (1,009) with an 18.7-yard average and 5 touchdowns. In 1969, Rentzel led the Cowboys in receptions (43), receiving yards (960), and average receiving yards (22.3). Rentzel tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns scored (13) in 1969.

1970 season

In 1970, he was leading the team in receiving yards, when he was arrested for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl.[10] At the time the accusation was made, the press revealed a nearly forgotten incident that happened when as a Minnesota Viking in September 1966, he was charged with exposing himself to two young girls in St. Paul, and pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of disorderly conduct.[11] He was not sentenced to jail, but merely ordered to seek psychiatric care.[12] Because of the nationwide reaction and publicity from the scandal, his wife, singer and actress Joey Heatherton, divorced him shortly thereafter.[13] Rentzel asked the Cowboys to place him on the inactive list so he could devote his time to settling his personal affairs.[14] He would miss the last three games of the regular season, including the Cowboys' playoff drive to its narrow Super Bowl V loss to the Baltimore Colts. He finished with 28 receptions (second on the team) for 556 yards (second on the team) with a 19.9-yard average and 5 touchdowns.

1971 season

On May 19, 1971, Rentzel was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for tight end Billy Truax and wide receiver Wendell Tucker. Head coach Tom Landry said after the trade, "We know we are giving up on one of the top flankers in the league, but I thought he would be better off in another city where he had the same opportunity regularly. We found this in Los Angeles, and it was one of the teams Lance wanted to be traded to if he were traded."[15] To replace him, the Cowboys also obtained Lance Alworth from the San Diego Chargers, in exchange for the left tackle Tony Liscio, the tight end Pettis Norman, and the defensive tackle Ron East.[16]

Although he spent only four seasons with the Cowboys, Rentzel left as the team's fourth all-time wide receiver in addition to other franchise records:

  • Most receptions in a game (13 in 1967), which was broken by Jason Witten twice (15 in 2007 and 18 in 2012).
  • Most consecutive 100-yard receiving games (three), until Michael Irvin passed him in 1995 with four.
  • Second in yards per reception (19.2), behind Bob Hayes and Alvin Harper (20).
  • Still fourth for most receiving touchdowns in a season (12).
  • Still fourth for most career postseason receiving yards (242).
  • Still fourth for most receiving yards in a game (233).

Los Angeles Rams

Rentzel led the Los Angeles Rams in receptions (38) in 1971, but was never able to regain his previous level of play. In October 1972, he was the subject of a lengthy feature article in SPORT Magazine written by Gary Cartwright. Also that year, Rentzel wrote When All the Laughter Died in Sorrow, about his professional football experiences and personal life.

In 1973, while on probation for the indecent exposure charge, Rentzel was suspended indefinitely by the NFL at the start of the 1973 season for conduct detrimental to the league after being convicted for possession of marijuana.[17] He was reinstated in 1974 after a ten-month suspension.[18]

Rentzel was one of three men credited with inspiring the eccentricities that surround Media Day at the Super Bowl. In January 1975, SPORT Magazine editor Dick Schaap hired Rentzel and teammate Fred Dryer to cover Super Bowl IX. Donning costumes inspired by The Front Page, "Cubby O'Switzer" (Rentzel) and "Scoops Brannigan" (Dryer) peppered players and coaches from both the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers with questions that ranged from the clichéd to the downright absurd. Rentzel humorously explained, "We're here to ask the dumbest questions we can and to mooch as much food and beer as we possibly can."[19][20]


On August 27, 1975, Rentzel was placed on waivers, effectively ending his career.[21] After playing in nine NFL seasons, Rentzel accumulated 4,826 receiving yards, 38 receiving touchdowns, 196 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 1,000 return yards, a touchdown from a fumble recovery, and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 by completing his lone pass attempt for a 58-yard touchdown.[22]

Personal life

In April 1969, Rentzel married Joey Heatherton, an actress, dancer, and singer, in New York City.[23] In November 1970, Rentzel was arrested for exposing himself to a 10-year-old girl.[24] He pled guilty to the charge and promised to undergo psychiatric treatment and was given a suspended sentence. Afterwards, fans started calling Rentzel "No-Pants Lance" and making jokes like, "Don’t worry, even if we are down late, I’m sure Lance will pull it out sooner or later." Heatherton filed for divorce in September 1971 and it became final in 1972.[25][23] Rentzel later wrote a book, When All the Laughter Died in Sorrow, reflecting upon those events.[26]


  1. ^ "Rentzel Says He'll Miss Glamor Of Pro Football". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  2. ^ "Rentzel And Sayers Are Tops". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Announce All Big Eight Teams". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Five Players Are Ineligible For Today's Gator Bowl Game". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Biletnikoff-tensi Duo Honored By Gator Bowl". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "1965 AFL Draft". Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  7. ^ "Aundrae Allison's 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown one for the Minnesota Vikings' record books". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Patterson Sets NFL Record With 109-Yard Return Touchdown". October 27, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Cowboys Get Lance Rentzel". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "Cowboys Trade Rentzel, 3 Others In Shakeup". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Rentzel Case: Why?". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  12. ^ "Lance Rentzel Indicted By Dallas Grand Jury". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "Actress Files For Divorce From Rentzel". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "Placed On Inactive List .Dallas Star Rentzel Faces Indecent Exposure Charge". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Cowboys Trade Rentzel, 3 Others In Shakeup". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  16. ^ "Cowboys Trade Rentzel, Gain Alworth And Truax". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "Vikings' Kassulke Is Injured; Rams' Rentzel Gets Suspended". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  18. ^ "Rozelle Lifts Suspension On Lance Rentzel". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  19. ^ Penner, Mike. "Dick Schaap, 67; Sports Journalist" (obituary), Los Angeles Times, Saturday, December 22, 2001.
  20. ^ "Rentzel, Dryer Find A Way To Super Bowl," The Associated Press, Friday, January 10, 1975.
  21. ^ "Rams Place Lance Rentzel On Waivers". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  22. ^ "Cowboys Defeat Giants With 2nd Half Uprising". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  23. ^ a b "Arrested for Drugs and Assault, Perennial Starlet Joey Heatherton Finally Crashes to Earth". September 15, 1986. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  24. ^ Teitelbaum, Stanley H. (2008). Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols. U of Nebraska Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-8032-1644-0.
  25. ^ "Joey Heatherton Sues Rentzel For Divorce". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. September 18, 1971. p. 1. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  26. ^ Lance Rentzel (1972). When All the Laughter Died in Sorrow. Saturday Review Press. ISBN 978-0-8415-0208-6.
1964 All-Big Eight Conference football team

The 1964 All-Big Eight Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Big Eight Conference teams for the 1964 college football season. The selectors for the 1964 season included the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI). Players selected as first-team players by both the AP and UPI are designated in bold.

1965 Minnesota Vikings season

The 1965 season was the Minnesota Vikings' fifth in the National Football League. Under head coach Norm van Brocklin, the team finished with a 7–7 record.

1966 Minnesota Vikings season

The 1966 season was the Minnesota Vikings' sixth in the National Football League. Sixth-year head coach Norm Van Brocklin resigned at the end of the season, after the team finished with a 4–9–1 record.

1967 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1967 Dallas Cowboys season was their eighth in the league. The team posted a 9–5 record and won the new four-team Capitol Division. The Cowboys hosted the Century Division winner Cleveland Browns at the Cotton Bowl and won 52–14 for the Eastern Conference title. This gained a rematch the following week for the NFL title with the two-time defending champion Green Bay Packers. Played in frigid sub-zero and windy conditions at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on December 31, the Packers scored a late touchdown to win by four points for their third consecutive NFL title. Green Bay easily won Super Bowl II two weeks later over the Oakland Raiders.

1967 Green Bay Packers season

The 1967 Green Bay Packers season was their 49th season overall and their 47th season in the National Football League and resulted in a 9–4–1 record and a victory in Super Bowl II. The team beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game, a game commonly known as the "Ice Bowl," which marked the second time the Packers had won an NFL-record third consecutive NFL championship, having also done so in 1931 under team founder Curly Lambeau. In the playoff era (since 1933), it remains the only time a team has won three consecutive NFL titles.

The Packers were led by ninth-year head coach Vince Lombardi and veteran quarterback Bart Starr, in his twelfth season. Green Bay's victory in Super Bowl II over the Oakland Raiders was the fifth world championship for the Packers under Lombardi and the last game he coached for the Packers.

1967 NFL playoffs

The NFL playoffs following the 1967 NFL season culminated in the NFL championship game on New Year's Eve, and determined who would represent the league against the American Football League champions in Super Bowl II.

With 16 teams in the league in 1967, this was the first season that the NFL used a four-team playoff tournament. The four division winners advanced to the postseason, with the two division winners in each conference meeting in the first round (effectively being conference championship games). The championship game this year was the famous Ice Bowl, played in Green Bay on December 31.

Although the Baltimore Colts (11–1–2) had tied for the best record in the league, they lost the new division tie-breaker to the Los Angeles Rams and were excluded from the postseason.

1968 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1968 Dallas Cowboys season was their ninth in the league and won the Capitol division by five games with a 12–2 record. In the first round of the playoffs, Dallas met the Cleveland Browns (10–4) in the Eastern Conference title game, held at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. In this era, the host sites were rotated, home field advantage was not adopted for the playoffs until 1975. Dallas had won the regular season game 28–7 in September, and had routed the Browns 52–14 in the previous year's playoffs, but both were played at the Cotton Bowl.

Cleveland upset the favored Cowboys 31–20, sending Dallas to the third place Playoff Bowl at the Orange Bowl in Miami, where they rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 17–13.The team averaged 30.8 points per game during the regular season, and holds the record for most points scored through the first three games of a season.

1968 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1968 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 36th season in the National Football League (NFL). They failed to improve on their previous output of 6–7–1, winning only two games. Eagles fans expected to get O.J. Simpson if they went winless. They finished 2–12, but the Buffalo Bills went 1–12–1 and got Simpson with the first pick. Before they won their twelfth game, the Eagles were on target for a winless season at 0–11. They were the first team in the NFL proper to lose eleven consecutive games in one season since their own 1936 season, though in the AFL the 1962 Oakland Raiders lost their first thirteen games.

One of the most infamous incidents in Philadelphia sports history came at halftime of the final game of the dismal 1968 season, when the Eagles were on their way to losing to the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles had planned a Christmas pageant for halftime of the December 15 game, but the condition of the field was too poor. Instead, the team asked a fan dressed as Santa Claus to run onto the field to celebrate with a group of cheerleaders. The fans, in no mood to celebrate, loudly booed and threw snowballs at “Santa Claus.”

1969 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1969 Dallas Cowboys season was their tenth in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 12–2, winning eleven games with one tie. They qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

The Cowboys were second in the NFL in scoring (369 points), and led the league in rushing yards (2,276) and total yards (5,122). The Cowboys' defense also allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL (1,050) and the fewest rushing touchdowns (3).

1970 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1970 Dallas Cowboys season was the team's 11th in the National Football League.

The Cowboys scored 299 points and allowed 221 points. For the fifth consecutive season, the Cowboys finished first in their division. In 1970, the club made its debut on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 38–0. The Cowboys made it to their first Super Bowl and lost to the Baltimore Colts.

Billy Truax

William Frederick Truax (born July 15, 1943) is a former professional American football tight end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Louisiana State University.

Bob Klein

Robert Owen "Bob" Klein is an American retired American football tight end.

Klein played college football at the University of Southern California, where he was the starting tight end for the Trojans' 1967 national championship team. Following his senior season, he was drafted 21st overall in the 1969 NFL draft by his hometown Los Angeles Rams. At USC, Klein was part of the Gamma Tau chapter of Beta Theta Pi.

Casady School

Casady School is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory school located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, founded in 1947 by Bishop Thomas Casady and the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. Casady serves children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest.

Charlie Smith (wide receiver)

Charles "Homeboy" Albert Smith (born July 26, 1950) is a former American football wide receiver. He played eight seasons (1974–1981) in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Grambling State University.

Dennis Homan

Dennis Frank Homan (born January 9, 1946 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama) is a former professional American football wide receiver in the National Football League for five seasons for the Dallas Cowboys (1968–1970) and the Kansas City Chiefs (1971–1972). He later played for the Birmingham Americans (1974) and Birmingham Vulcans (1975) of the World Football League.

Jim Grisham

Jim Grisham (December 4, 1942 – July 30, 2012) was an American football fullback and linebacker, who played at the University of Oklahoma from 1961 to 1964.

Joey Heatherton

Davenie Johanna "Joey" Heatherton (born September 14, 1944) is an American actress, dancer, and singer. A sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s, she is best known for her many television appearances during that time, particularly as a frequent variety show performer, although she also appeared in acting roles. She performed for over a decade on USO tours presented by Bob Hope, and starred in several feature films including My Blood Runs Cold (1965) and The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977).

Ralph Neely

Ralph Eugene Neely (born September 12, 1943) is a former American football offensive tackle who played 13 seasons and 172 games for the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 to 1977.

Wendell Tucker

Wendell Edward Tucker (born September 4, 1943) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams. He was also a member of the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. He played college football at South Carolina State University.

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