Doug Wilkerson
refer to caption
Wilkerson with the San Diego Chargers c. 1976
No. 63
Position:Guard
Personal information
Born:(1947-03-27)March 27, 1947
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Died:February 21, 2021(2021-02-21) (aged 73)
Encinitas, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:253 lb (115 kg)
Career information
High school:E. E. Smith
(Fayetteville, North Carolina)
College:North Carolina Central
NFL Draft:1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 14
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:204
Games started:195
Fumble recoveries:9
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Douglas Wilkerson (March 27, 1947 – February 21, 2021) was an American professional football player who was a guard in the National Football League (NFL) for the Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers. Named to the Pro Bowl three times, he was also a three-time All-Pro, including a first-team selection in 1982. He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame. He also played one season in the Austrian Football League for the Graz Giants in 1987.

Early life and college

Wilkerson grew up in a military family in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he attended E. E. Smith High School.[1] He was recruited by many of the college football powerhouses,[1] including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Duke and Wake Forest.[2] Initially, Wilkerson accepted a scholarship to play at Michigan State under coach Duffy Daugherty. However, E.E. Smith's principal, E.E. Miller, stripped him of the scholarship as punishment for a school incident. A student egged Wilkerson into a foot race; Wilkerson capitulated and won the race. The challenger refused to settle the wager, prompting Wilkerson to knock him to the ground. Miller's punishment could have been ignored, as no NCAA rules were broken, but Miller was both respected and feared. Daugherty did not try to get involved, nor did Wilkerson ask him to.[3]

Wilkerson decided to attend the historically black college North Carolina Central University (NCCU), known then as North Carolina College,[1] where some of his former classmates were also enrolled.[1][2] At NCCU, Wilkerson earned national honors as a lineman on both offense and defense.[4] As a junior in 1968, he was named to the small college All-America team on defense as a middle guard by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).[5] The following year, the AFCA selected him to the team as a defensive tackle,[6][7] while the Associated Press named him as an offensive tackle.[8]

North Carolina Central retired Wilkerson's No. 63 in 1970. He was inducted into the North Carolina Central University Hall of Fame and the Black College Football Hall of Fame.[9]

Professional career

Wilkerson was selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft with the 14th overall pick.[4] The first offensive lineman drafted that year,[10] he is North Carolina Central's highest overall NFL draft selection.[4] As a rookie in 1970, Wilkerson also played as a defensive end.[11][12] After the season, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers for tight end Willie Frazier.[10]

Playing 14 seasons with San Diego, Wilkerson was named the team's Lineman of the Year seven times, including four straight from 1974 through 1977.[13] The Chargers struggled in his first seven seasons before Don Coryell became their head coach mid-season in 1978.[14] They reached the playoffs from 1979 through 1982, finishing in the top-4 in the NFL in points each season, twice leading the league.[15] San Diego won three straight AFC West division titles and played in back-to-back AFC Championship Games.[14] Their Hall of Fame quarterback, Dan Fouts, in appreciation of the offensive line's critical role in the success of their Air Coryell offense, treated his blockers to dinner before each game.[15] Playing on one of the NFL's most prolific offenses, Wilkerson was named to three straight Pro Bowls starting in 1980.[16] He earned second-team All-Pro honors in 1979 and 1980 before being named to the first-team in 1982.[14] In 1984, Wilkerson was named the co-winner of the Chargers' Lineman of the Year.[13] Two and a half weeks into training camp in 1985,[13] he announced his retirement.[17]

In 15 NFL seasons, Wilkerson played in 204 regular-season games, starting 195.[16] He ended his Chargers career with 195 games played, the second most in franchise history behind former teammate and fellow lineman Russ Washington.[13] Wilkerson did not miss a game with San Diego until his ninth season there and missed just eight games total in 14 years.[18] He was named to the Chargers Hall of Fame, as well as their 40th and 50th anniversary teams.[15] He was also inducted into San Diego's Breitbard Hall of Fame[1]

He also played for the Graz Giants of the Austrian Football League in 1987, becoming the Giants' first NFL player.[19]

In his later years, Wilkerson was the strength and conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Raiders (1990–1994) and player relations executive for the St. Louis Rams (1995–1996).[20][21][22]

Personal life

Wilkerson died on February 21, 2021, at the age of 73.[23]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Magee, Jerry (February 19, 2005). "'Moosey' didn't care if moniker didn't fit". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. D-1.
  2. ^ a b Distel, Dave (October 2, 1981). "Wilkerson Takes Pride in Playing Heads-Up Games". Los Angeles Times. Part III, p. 4. Retrieved February 2, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Shanahan, Tom (February 23, 2021). "Air Coryell legend Doug Wilkerson's path to NFL was supposed to ride Duffy's Underground Railroad". The Shanahan Report. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Serba, Kyle (May 3, 2010). "NCCU CENTENNIAL SPORTS HISTORY: DID YOU KNOW?". North Carolina Central University Athletics. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "Small College Elite Names". Orlando Sentinel. UPI. December 17, 1968. p. 3-C. Retrieved February 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Elon's McGeorge Named To Kodak All-America". The Daily Times-News. December 16, 1969. p. 2-B. Retrieved February 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Dave Hill Winner on Vardon Trophy". The Charlotte News. December 17, 1969. p. 4C. Retrieved February 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Future Pros Fill All-America Team". The High Point Enterprise. AP. December 4, 1969. p. 6D. Retrieved February 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Doug Wilkerson". BlackCollegeFootballHOF.org. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Frazier Goes, Wilkerson Joins Chargers". The Sacramento Bee. AP. December 23, 1970. p. B7. Retrieved February 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Colts, Oilers In Showdown". The Odessa American. AP. October 11, 1970. p. 6-B. Retrieved February 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ O'Quinn, Karl (October 7, 1970). "Morning Line". San Antonio Express. p. 1-D. Retrieved February 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ a b c d Judge, Clark (August 8, 1985). "Was Wilkerson forced to hang 'em up?". Evening Tribune. p. D-3.
  14. ^ a b c "Chargers legend Doug Wilkerson passes away at 73". NFL.com. February 22, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Krasovic, Tom (February 22, 2021). "Ex-Chargers guard Doug Wilkerson, "Air Coryell" mainstay, dies at 73". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Weaver, Tim; Neumann, Thomas (September 8, 2020). "Homegrown Legends: Carolina's greatest products come home as virtual Panthers". USA Today. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  17. ^ Posner, Jay (August 7, 1985). "Another surprise: Wilkerson retires". Times-Advocate. p. C1. Retrieved February 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Borquez, Gavino; Neumann, Thomas (August 29, 2019). "NFL 100: Best players in Chargers history". USA Today. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  19. ^ "Giants History". GrazGiants.at (in German). Retrieved February 23, 2021. Die Giants sind dabei federführend: Neben den ersten Field-Goal-Stangen holt man 1987 auch erstmals einen NFL-Profi (Doug Wilkerson) nach Graz
  20. ^ Thomas, Jim (July 16, 1995). "Will Rams' Camp Be A 'Hit' With Veteran Players". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 10F. Retrieved February 25, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "Pro Football Report". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 20, 1990. p. C18. Retrieved February 25, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ Thomas, Jim (January 24, 1997). "Sweep! Vermeil Cleans House". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 1D. Retrieved February 25, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Elwood, Hayley (February 22, 2021). "Chargers Mourn Loss of Doug 'Moosie' Wilkerson". Chargers.com. Retrieved February 23, 2021.