Del Shofner
Shofner in 1965
No. 29, 85
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born:(1934-12-11)December 11, 1934
Center, Texas
Died:March 11, 2020(2020-03-11) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:186 lb (84 kg)
Career information
College:Baylor
NFL Draft:1957 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions:349
Receiving yards:6,470
Receiving touchdowns:51
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Delbert Martin Shofner (December 11, 1934 – March 11, 2020) was an American football wide receiver who played for eleven seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants from 1957 to 1967 in the National Football League (NFL).

Early life

Shofner played college football at Baylor University. In addition to football, Shofner played basketball, baseball, and was a sprinter while at Baylor.

Shofner helped lead the Baylor Bears to a 13-7 victory over Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl and was voted the game's Most Valuable Player.[1]

Career

Shofner began his career in 1957 as a defensive back. He played in 12 games (starting 10) and intercepted two passes while recovering a fumble. He got his chance to play for the offense as a split end in the next season and he made it count. Playing in twelve games, he caught 51 passes for 1,097 yards for eight touchdowns. He led the league in yards and yards per game (91.4) while making his first Pro Bowl and being named 1st Team All-Pro. He continued further the next year, catching 47 passes for 936 yards (second most in the league) for seven touchdowns for another Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection. He had a down year in 1960 (having suffered a leg injury and ulcers), the fourth and final season spent with the Rams. He played in eleven games while catching 12 passes for 122 yards for a touchdown. He also spent his four years with the Rams as their punter, punting 153 total times for 6,420 yards (with two blocked).

On August 28, 1961, he was traded to the New York Giants for draft picks. He was acquired by owner Wellington Mara because of how much his new quarterback Y.A. Tittle (acquired ten days earlier) raved about the receiver. The result proved positive for both New York and Shofner. He caught 69 passes for 1,125 yards (second most in the NFL) for 11 touchdowns while returning to Pro Bowl and All-Pro form. He was the first Giant to have a 1,000-yard season, and he would soon become the first to do so in consecutive seasons. Teammates (such as future Hall of Famer Sam Huff) soon called him "Slim" and "Blade"; in his subsequent memoir Tough Stuff, Huff described Shofner as “Lean and mean out on that field, great speed and better moves, with legs strong enough to break tackles and leap into the air.”

The Giants, led by Tittle and coach Allie Sherman, roared all the way to the NFL Championship Game. However, facing the Green Bay Packers at New City Stadium, the Giants were shut-out 37-0. Shofner caught three passes for 41 yards in the loss.[2] He continued his consistency the next year, catching 53 passes for 1,133 yards for 12 touchdowns (second most in the league). Shofner holds the record for most receiving yards by a Giant in a game, having caught eleven passes for 269 yards on October 28, 1962 against the Washington Redskins (this was also the game where Tittle threw for seven touchdown passes, with Shofner catching one of them).[3] The Giants made it back to the NFL Championship Game again that year, this time playing the Packers in New York. Shofner caught five passes for 69 yards, but the Giants were trounced once again 16-7.[4] The next year was his last great one. He caught 64 passes for 1,181 yards (second most in the league) while having nine touchdowns while being named to his fifth and final Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection. Once again, the Giants rolled to the NFL Championship Game. Playing the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field. Shofner had no statline as the Giants lost 14-10.[5] He was the first receiver with four 1,000-yard seasons, and no receiver would match him until 1981.[6]

Injuries and illness caused a decline in his effectiveness in 1964, and thereafter and he eventually was supplanted as the starting split end in the middle of the 1965 season. In his last four seasons (1964-1967), he played in just 37 games while catching 54 total passes for 876 yards and three touchdowns. He retired after the 1967 NFL season.

Legacy

In 2005, he was named to the Professional Football Researchers Association Hall of Very Good in the association's third HOVG class.[7]

Despite being named to the All-Decade team of the 1960s, Shofner has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, nor has he been a finalist in recent years.[8]

Personal life

Shofner lived most of his life in San Marino, California after retiring from football. After his playing career, he became a businessman for selling animal feed ingredients. He had three children with his wife Carol along with five grandchildren.[3]

He lived there for over 50 years before moving later to Bradbury, California. He died in Los Angeles on March 11, 2020 at the age of 85.[9]

References

  1. ^ from Loftis, Jack. 2003. "Jetton's Gift to BU: Shofner and Bradshaw." The 'B' Line. May 29.
  2. ^ "Championship - New York Giants at Green Bay Packers - December 31st, 1961". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  3. ^ a b "Del Shofner, prolific Giants receiver, dies at 85". www.giants.com.
  4. ^ "Championship - Green Bay Packers at New York Giants - December 30th, 1962". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  5. ^ "Championship - New York Giants at Chicago Bears - December 29th, 1963". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  6. ^ "Remembering the late, great Del Shofner and why he deserved more from the Hall | Sports Illustrated Talk Of Fame Network". www.si.com.
  7. ^ "Hall of Very Good". Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  8. ^ Gosselin, Rick. "Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson and Steve Smith all expect to be Hall of Fame finalists in their first year of eligibility? Should they be?". Sports Illustrated Talk Of Fame Network.
  9. ^ Goldstein, Richard (March 13, 2020). "Del Shofner, Master Pass Receiver With the Giants, Dies at 85" – via NYTimes.com.