Karl Sweetan
No. 14, 10
Born:(1942-10-02)October 2, 1942
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died:July 2, 2000(2000-07-02) (aged 57)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Career information
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight203 lb (92 kg)
CollegeWake Forest
NFL draft1965 / Round: 18 / Pick: 249
Drafted byDetroit Lions
Career history
As player
1966–1967Detroit Lions
1968New Orleans Saints
1969–1970Los Angeles Rams
Career highlights and awards

Karl Robert Sweetan (October 2, 1942 – July 2, 2000) was a professional American football quarterback. He played five seasons in the National Football League (NFL), from 1966 to 1970, for three teams.

Early life

Sweetan grew up in Dallas and graduated from South Oak Cliff High School in 1961.

College career

Sweetan played football at Navarro Junior College and Texas A&M before transferring to Wake Forest.

Sweetan was Wake Forest's starting quarterback in 1963, his senior year. He completed 79 of 218 passes for 674 yards, throwing one touchdown and 18 interceptions. His 218 pass attempts were the second highest in the conference, and fifth highest in the country.[1]

Professional football

Undrafted by the National Football League out of college, Sweetan played quarterback and defensive back for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts during the 1964 season. In the 1965 NFL Draft, he was an 18th round draft choice of the Detroit Lions.

During his first season, in 1966, he replaced an injured Milt Plum in an October 16 game against the Baltimore Colts. In that game, Sweetan threw a 99 yard pass to Pat Studstill that will always be an NFL record for longest pass completion. Sweetan was the second NFL quarterback to accomplish the feat; as of 2021, a total of 12 NFL quarterbacks have thrown a 99 yard pass, with the most recent being Eli Manning in 2011.[2]

Sweetan played himself in the 1967 movie, Paper Lion, which starred Alan Alda as an amateur participating at quarterback during the Lions preseason (based on an actual experience by the writer George Plimpton).[3]

Sweetan gained a different kind of notoriety when it was alleged that he tried to sell an NFL football playbook to another team; however, the charge was not proven.[4]


Sweetan spent the last 27 years of his life in Las Vegas, where he worked for a series of casinos; his last job was as a baccarat dealer at the Las Vegas Hilton. He was survived by four daughters and a son.[5]

According to a 1966 article in the Detroit Jewish News, Sweetan said he was Jewish.[6]


  1. ^ "Karl Sweetan". Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  2. ^ "Karl Sweetan Stats - Pro-Football-Reference.com". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  3. ^ Karl Sweetan – The Internet Movie Database.
  4. ^ Maule, Tex. "Would You Buy A Used Playbook From This Man?" Sports Illustrated, July 24, 1972.
  5. ^ NFL quarterback, longtime LV resident Karl Sweetan dies at 57;Las Vegas Sun
  6. ^ Jewish Indians in sports arenas; Detroit Jewish News