Mel Renfro

Melvin Lacy Renfro (born December 30, 1941) is a former American football player, a cornerback who spent his entire 14-year career in the National Football League (NFL) with the Dallas Cowboys.[1] He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[2]

Mel Renfro
refer to caption
Renfro in Super Bowl V in January 1971
No. 20
Position:Cornerback
Personal information
Born:December 30, 1941 (age 77)
Houston, Texas
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school:Portland (OR) Jefferson
College:Oregon
NFL Draft:1964 / Round: 2 / Pick: 17
AFL draft:1964 / Round: 10 / Pick: 79
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games:174
Interceptions:52
Interception yards:626
Touchdowns:3
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Born in Houston, Texas, Renfro moved with his family to Portland, Oregon, and he attended its Jefferson High School, starring as a two-way football player and track and field athlete. As a sophomore and junior, he contributed to his team achieving a 23–0 record, including consecutive Class A-1 football state championships in 1957 and 1958. The Democrats' 1958 team is regarded as one of the greatest in Oregon prep history, which had a backfield that included him at halfback, quarterback Terry Baker (1962 Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon State), halfback Mickey Hergert (one of the leading ground gainers in the nation at Lewis & Clark College) and his brother Raye Renfro at fullback (in 1958 he broke a Portland Interscholastic League record with 24 touchdowns). After Baker graduated, Renfro saw playing time at quarterback as a senior in 1959 and was also an all-state selection at running back, as Jefferson pursued a third consecutive title. They again advanced to the championship game, played before more than 21,000 at Multnomah Stadium in Portland, but lost 7–6 to Medford.[3]

In track as a junior in 1959, he helped Jefferson win the team title by winning the 180-yard low hurdles, the 120-yard high hurdles (breaking the state record) and the broad jump state titles. In 1960, he broke two Oregon junior AAU champinonship records with a 120-yard high hurdles of 13.9 seconds and 19.3 seconds in the 180-yard low hurdles. Renfro also collected 32 points outscoring every team except one, recording the state record with a 24.1 broad jump and winning the low hurdles, high hurdles and the half-mile relay team.[4] He was named outstanding athlete in the Golden West Invitational track meet, which brought annually the nation's top high school seniors. He was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1960.[5]

In 1983, he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

College career

In 1960, Renfro enrolled at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he excelled for the track team and as a two-way football player, an All-American halfback and defensive back.[6] In football, he earned All-Pacific Coast Conference recognition three times and is one of only two-time All-American (Steve Barnett is the other player) in university history. He is also the second two-sport All-American in university history, the first one was George Shaw in football and baseball.

In 1992, Renfro was inducted into the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame.

Football

From the start of his sophomore season he received recognition as one of the best and most complete running backs in college football, being able to run inside or outside, catch, block and play special teams. In 1963, he was even named the team's backup quarterback.

One of Renfro's best collegiate games took place against Rice at Houston in 1962. Renfro shined on both offense and defense, leading the Ducks to a 31–12 victory on October 13.[7] Rice Stadium had been a whites-only facility prior to the Ducks' visit, but university officials allowed Renfro's family to enter and sit in a special section of the stadium near the 35-yard line. According to a contemporary account in the Register-Guard, when Renfro left the game, he was given a loud and appreciative ovation by the Rice crowd.[7][8]

An Oregon sportswriter asked a Houston counterpart in the press box if an African-American had ever received such an ovation by a predominantly white crowd. The Texan enthusiastically replied, "We've never seen any player that good!" The morning after the game, a Houston paper headlined, "Renfro Runs Rice Ragged."

Renfro led Oregon in rushing three straight seasons (1961–63), finishing with a career total 1,540 yards and 23 touchdowns. He still holds the university's career record for highest average per play at 6.01 yards. He also had 41 catches for 644 yards and five touchdowns,[9] very impressive numbers in an era when running backs usually did not catch more than 10 passes during a season.

In 1986, Renfro was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and is a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., a National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll. He is considered to be the best running back in the history of the University of Oregon, other than LaMichael James.

Track and field

From 1960 through 1965, the Oregon's men's track and field team led by coach Bill Bowerman was one of the best in the United States. In 1962, Renfro contributed to the university's first NCAA Men's Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships|NCAA team championship]] by finishing second behind teammate Jerry Tarr in the 120-yard (110 m) high hurdles with a 13.8 time and third in the long jump with a 25'-11¼" (7.905 m) leap.[10]

That year, he was part of a world record-setting 440 yard relay team with a time of 40.0 seconds, his running mates were Tarr, Mike Gaechter and Harry Jerome. At the end of the year, he was named to the All-American track and field team in the high hurdles and the broad jump.

In 1963, he injured his knee on a foul broad jump in the NCAA Championships. In the same meet at Albuquerque, despite the injury he entered the high hurdles but failed to qualify.[11]

Professional career

Renfro was drafted in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft, 17th overall, by the Dallas Cowboys. The selection delayed the draft for 6 hours, while the Cowboys sent a doctor to check an injury he suffered on his wrist.[12]

Although he had won many accolades as a running back and at the time teams put their best athletes on the offensive side of the ball, Tom Landry looking to build a dominating defense decided to start him at safety. As a rookie, he had an impressive season by leading the team with seven interceptions, the NFL in both punt return and kickoff return yardage (including a franchise record 273 total return yards against the Green Bay Packers) and culminated his great campaign with an invitation to the Pro Bowl. The 30 yards per kick-off return average he posted in his second year (1965) still remains a franchise record.

In 1966, despite Renfro coming off of an All-Pro season at safety, the Cowboys named him their starting halfback in an effort to improve its offense. He was injured in the opening game against the New York Giants and replaced by Dan Reeves, who was so impressive that Renfro was moved back to defense when he returned to action and would end up being named to the All-Pro team again.

He was switched to cornerback in his fifth season. The speedy Renfro (4.65 40-yd dash) became an exceptional threat to wide receivers, leading the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1969. Renfro was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first ten seasons in the league, including five All-Pro selections in 1964, 1965, 1969, 1971 and 1973.[13] He was named the defensive MVP of the 1971 Pro Bowl.

In his 14 seasons, Renfro intercepted 52 passes, returning them for 626 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned 109 punts for 842 yards and one touchdown, 85 kickoffs for 2,246 yards and two touchdowns, along with recording 13 fumble recoveries, which he returned for 44 yards. In the 1970 NFC Championship Game, Renfro had a key interception that led to the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown over the San Francisco 49ers that helped them get to Super Bowl V, where they lost to the Baltimore Colts, 16–13. Dallas returned in Super Bowls VI, X, and XII, Renfro's last NFL game, a Cowboys' 27–10 victory over the Denver Broncos. He remains the Cowboys all-time leader in interceptions with 52 (In 1969 he led the NFL in interceptions with 10) and in career kickoff-return average (26.4 yards). His 14 seasons with the team ties him for second place in franchise history.

Renfro joined the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1981 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.[2] During his time with the Cowboys, even though one of his teammates was former Olympic gold medalist Bob Hayes, many experts still considered him the best athlete on the team.

Personal life

In 1984 Renfro coached the defensive secondary under John Hadl with the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League (USFL). In 1986 he was part of Gene Stallings St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff as his defensive backs coach.

In the early 1980s, Renfro had financial and legal challenges.[14] He currently works as a motivational speaker.

References

  1. ^ "Renfro was Deion of his day in ability". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. July 26, 1996. p. 1C.
  2. ^ a b "Wait for fame is worth it". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. July 28, 1996. p. 3G.
  3. ^ Mullin, Bob (November 28, 1959). "Medford tips Jeff 7–6 for state title". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 6.
  4. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1134479/index.htm
  5. ^ http://trackandfieldnews.com/index.php/component/content/article/35-stats/2114-t-fn-boys-hs-aoy
  6. ^ Leutzinger, Dick (October 13, 1963). "Renfro leads Oregon to win". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1B.
  7. ^ a b Strite, Dick (October 14, 1962). "Webfoots wallop Rice". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1B.
  8. ^ Strite, Dick (October 15, 1962). "Highclimber". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 2B.
  9. ^ https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/mel-renfro-1.html
  10. ^ Thompson, Bill (June 18, 1962). "Oregon new king of U.S. track". Bend Bulletin. Oregon. p. 3.
  11. ^ Strite, Dick (June 14, 1963). "Southern Cal likely to dethrone Oregon". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 2B.
  12. ^ http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000340099/printable/1964-draft-left-lasting-impact-on-dallas-cowboys-nfl
  13. ^ Pro Football Hall of Fame: Mel Renfro
  14. ^ "Mel Renfro jailed on support charge". Eugene REgister-Guard. Oregon. March 11, 1981. p. 3D.

External links

1961 Oregon Webfoots football team

The 1961 Oregon Webfoots football team represented the University of Oregon as an independent during the 1961 college football season. In their 11th season under head coach Len Casanova, the Webfoots compiled a 4–6 record and outscored their opponents, 152 to 112. The team played its home games at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The team's statistical leaders included Doug Post with 662 passing yards, Mel Renfro with 335 rushing yards, and Paul Burleson with 222 receiving yards.

1962 All-Pacific Coast football team

The 1962 All-Pacific Coast football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Pacific Coast teams for the 1962 college football season.

1962 College Football All-America Team

The 1962 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1962. The six selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1962 season are (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), (4) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), (5) the Sporting News, and (6) the United Press International (UPI).

1962 Oregon Webfoots football team

The 1962 Oregon Webfoots football team represented the University of Oregon as an independent during the 1962 college football season. In their 12th season under head coach Len Casanova, the Webfoots compiled a 6–3–1 record and outscored their opponents, 229 to 156. The team played its home games at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The team's statistical leaders included Bob Berry with 995 passing yards and Mel Renfro with 753 rushing yards and 298 receiving yards.

1963 Oregon Webfoots football team

The 1963 Oregon Webfoots represented the University of Oregon in the 1963 college football season. The Webfoots were an independent and scored 274 points and allowed 153 points. Led by thirteenth-year head coach Len Casanova, the Ducks were 7–3 in the regular season and won the Sun Bowl over SMU on New Year's Eve.

Notable players included Mel Renfro, Dave Wilcox, H. D. Murphy, and Bob Berry, all selected in the 1964 NFL Draft. Berry was a redshirt junior and played another season for Oregon in 1964. Renfro and Wilcox are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Murphy was selected late and never played in the NFL; he played in the up-and-coming Continental Football League.

Following the disbandment of the Pacific Coast Conference, both Oregon and Oregon State were independent in football for five seasons, from 1959 through 1963. Both joined the AAWU (Pac-8) for the 1964 season. The Pac-8 had bowl restrictions (Rose Bowl only) until 1975; the Ducks' next postseason appearance was at the 1989 Independence Bowl.

1964 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in the NFL in 1964. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1964 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1964 Dallas Cowboys season was their fifth in the league. The team improved on their previous output of 4–10, winning five games. They failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

1967 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 1967. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1971 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1971. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1971.

1971 Pro Bowl

The 1971 Pro Bowl was the NFL's 21st annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1970 season. The game was played on January 24, 1971, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The final score was NFC 27, AFC 6. Fred Carr of the Green Bay Packers was named the game's offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Mel Renfro of the Dallas Cowboys was selected as the defensive MVP.Attendance at the game was 48,222. John Madden of the Oakland Raiders, coached the AFC while the NFC was led by the San Francisco 49ers' Dick Nolan. The referee for the contest was Fred Silva. This was the first Pro Bowl to feature the AFC vs. the NFC format, which was used until 2014, then resumed in 2017.

1973 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1973. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1973.

Aaron Kyle

Aaron Douglas Kyle (born April 6, 1954) is a former American Football cornerback in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He played college football at the University of Wyoming and was drafted in the first round of the 1976 NFL Draft.

Doomsday Defense

The Doomsday Defense was the defense of the Dallas Cowboys American football team during the dynasty years of the late 1960s - 1970s. This defense was the backbone of the Cowboys' dynasty, which won two Super Bowls (VI, XII) and played in three more (V, X and XIII).

The Doomsday Defense is often recognized as having two different "generations," but different listings of players and time periods exist. The original "Doomsday Defense" can generally be identified as the Cowboys' defenses from 1966 to 1974. "Doomsday II" had its heyday from approximately 1975 to 1982. Many Cowboy fans recognize the defense from 1992 to 1996 as "Doomsday III", though to a lesser extent. This defense was in part, responsible for the Cowboys being the first team to ever win three Super Bowls in a four-year span.

The first defensive player to be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Super Bowl was linebacker Chuck Howley (V). Later linemen Harvey Martin and Randy White became the first (and only) teammates (co-MVPs) to win the award (XII).

Golden West Invitational

The Golden West Invitational (GWI) high school track & field all-star meet brings together top high school athletes from throughout the country and provides them with the very highest levels of competition. The GWI made its debut in 1960 and is held in the Sacramento, CA area in June each year.

Past participants have represented the United States in every Olympic Games since 1964 and have filled more than 150 positions on the American Olympic Track & Field teams. They have won more than 75 medals, 40 of them gold. An additional nine GWI athletes represented their native countries of France, Ireland, Japan, Trinidad/Tobago, Fiji, Jamaica and Cape Verde Islands.

GWI alums include the following track & field legends:

Evelyn Ashford

Bob Beamon

Stacy Dragila

Marty Liquori

Steve Prefontaine

Jim Ryun

Tommie Smith

Dwight Stones

James Beckford

Marion Jones

Recent Olympic medalists who participated at the GWI meet include:

Allyson Felix

Kenny Harrison

Joanna Hayes

Monique Henderson

Meb Keflezighi

Jeremy Wariner

Future NFL football stars who participated at the GWI meet include:

Terry Bradshaw

Michael Carter

Russ Francis

Bob Hayes

James Lofton

Art Monk

Mel Renfro

Jerry Tarr

Gerald LaVern Tarr (born August 27, 1939 in Bakersfield, California) is a former collegiate and professional American football player who played in one AFL season (1962) for the Denver Broncos. Tarr was also a successful college track and field athlete.

Tarr attended the University of Oregon, where he was a two-sport athlete in football and track. In track, Tarr was a member of Oregon's 4 x 110 yard relay team with Mike Gaechter, Harry Jerome, and Mel Renfro, which set a world record in 1962.

Tarr's main event, however, was the 120-yard hurdles. He was the first athlete to win back-to-back NCAA titles in the high hurdles in 1961 and 1962, and in doing so, helped Oregon win its first ever NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in 1962.Like his relay mates Renfro and Gaechter, Tarr decided to play professional football rather than continue his track career. He played one season with the Denver Broncos of the AFL.

Tarr is a member of the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

List of Oregon Ducks football All-Americans

The Oregon Ducks college football team competes as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), and represents the University of Oregon in the North Division of the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12). All-America selections are individual player recognitions made after each season when numerous publications release lists of their ideal team. The NCAA recognizes five All-America lists: the Associated Press (AP), American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Sporting News (SN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF). In order for an honoree to earn a "consensus" selection, he must be selected as first team in three of the five lists recognized by the NCAA, and "unanimous" selections must be selected as first team in all five lists.Since the establishment of the team in 1894, Oregon has had 29 players honored a total of 34 times as First Team All-America for their performance on the field of play. Included in these selections are 8 consensus selections, 2 of which were unanimous selections earned by LaMichael James in the 2010 season and Marcus Mariota in the 2014 season in which he won the Heisman Trophy.

Mark Washington (cornerback)

Mark Henry Washington (born December 28, 1947) is a former American football cornerback in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. He played college football at Morgan State University.

Renfro

Renfro is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alfred T. Renfro (1877–1964), American artist

Brad Renfro (1982–2008), American actor

Elza T. Renfro (1902–1935), American football, basketball, and baseball player and coach

Julia Renfro, Aruban journalist

Leonard Renfro (born 1970), American football player

Marli Renfro (born 1938), American model and actress

Mel Renfro (born 1941), American football player

Mike Renfro (born 1955), American football player

Ray Renfro (1929–1997), American football player

Raye Renfro (1940–1978), American football player and athlete

Will Renfro (1932–2010), American football player

W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy

The W. J. Voit Memorial Trophy was awarded by the Helms Athletic Foundation from 1951 to 1978 to the outstanding college football player on the Pacific Coast. The recipient was determined based on votes cast by West Coast football writers and later broadcasters as well. Award recipients include College Football Hall of Fame inductees, O.J. Simpson, Mike Garrett, Jim Plunkett, Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Billy Kilmer, and Anthony Davis.

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