Keith Lincoln
No. 22, 20
Personal information
Born:(1939-05-08)May 8, 1939
Reading, Michigan, U.S.
Died:July 27, 2019(2019-07-27) (aged 80)
Pullman, Washington, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Monrovia (Monrovia, California)
College:Washington State
NFL Draft:1961 / Round: 5 / Pick: 61
AFL Draft:1961 / Round: 2 / Pick: 16
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career AFL statistics
Rushing yards:3,383
Rushing average:4.2
Rushing touchdowns:19
Receiving yards:2,250
Receiving touchdowns:19
Player stats at · PFR

Keith Payson Lincoln (May 8, 1939 – July 27, 2019) was an American professional football halfback who played for eight seasons in the American Football League (AFL), primarily with the San Diego Chargers. He played college football for the Washington State Cougars. Lincoln was a two-time All-AFL selection and a five-time AFL All-Star. A member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, he won an AFL championship with the Chargers in 1963, when he was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the championship game. He had a stint with the Buffalo Bills before returning to San Diego and finishing his career.

Early years

Born in Reading, Michigan, on May 8, 1939,[1] Lincoln graduated in 1957 from Monrovia High School in Monrovia, California, in Los Angeles County. He played college football at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman, Washington.[2][3] Originally a quarterback on the Cougars' freshman team,[4] he was moved to halfback and was also the team's punter.[5][6][7] He was nicknamed the "Moose of the Palouse",[8] given to him by a sportswriter from Spokane.[2]

Lincoln was inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979.[9] and the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.[10] In 1995, he was named to Washington State's all-time team by a panel of experts commissioned by The Spokesman-Review to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school's football program.[11]

Professional career

Lincoln began his career with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him in the 1961 AFL draft, choosing them over the Chicago Bears of the more established NFL.[12][13] As a rookie in 1961, he had a 91-yard reception for a touchdown, the longest catch in the AFL that year. His 86- and 76-yard touchdown runs in 1962 and 1963, respectively, were the league's longest run in those seasons. His 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 1963 was the AFL's longest that year, and is tied for the Chargers team record with Darren Sproles (2008).[14][15]

In the 1963 AFL championship game, Lincoln was voted the game MVP after the Chargers routed the Boston Patriots 51-10.[16] It remains the only league title in the franchise's history,[17] as well as the city of San Diego's only championship in a major sports league.[18] In the game, Lincoln carried the ball 13 times for 206 yards and had seven catches for 123 yards, compiling an AFL-record 329 yards from scrimmage; he also passed for 20 yards.[18][19] The record stood for both AFL and NFL players until 1971, when Kansas City Chiefs running back Ed Podolak gained 350 in a double-overtime playoff game against the Miami Dolphins.[17][20] Lincoln's 206 yards rushing remained an NFL playoff record for 22 years, when Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams gained 248 against the Dallas Cowboys in 1985.[21]

In the 1964 AFL Championship Game, in a play which came to be known as the "Hit Heard 'Round the World", Lincoln was the recipient of a particularly hard tackle from Buffalo Bills linebacker Mike Stratton which broke one of his ribs and forced him out of the game midway through the first quarter.[22]

Lincoln was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1967.[23] He was productive that season, but was waived toward the end of the 1968 season before returning to San Diego and playing one game.[17] Over his eight-year career, Lincoln rushed for 3,383 yards and 19 touchdowns and had 165 receptions for 2,250 yards and 19 touchdowns.[17][24] He was a two-time All-AFL selection (1963, 1964)[25][26] and a five-time AFL All-Star (1962–1965, 1967), twice being named the game's MVP (1963, 1964).[20] He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1980,[27] and was also named to their 40th and 50th anniversary teams.[28][29]

Later years

After retiring as a player, Lincoln was a college assistant coach for the Idaho Vandals in 1970 under first-year head coach Don Robbins.[30] He became an assistant coach at his alma mater WSU in 1971 under fourth-year head coach Jim Sweeney,[31] and later became the school's long-time director of alumni relations.[2][32][33]

Personal life

Lincoln was married to Bonnie Jo Lincoln (née McKarcher). They had two sons, Lance and Keith (nicknamed "Kip").[17]

Lincoln died at age 80 of congestive heart failure at Pullman Regional Hospital on July 27, 2019.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Shepherd, Jessica. "The second most famous native from every Michigan county". Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Caraher, Pat (Spring 2004). "Keith Lincoln, Barn Builder". Washington State Magazine. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "Cougar fans whoop it up for versatile Keith Lincoln". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 16, 1959. p. 14.
  4. ^ "Vandals and Cougars start football workouts". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 1, 1958. p. 8.
  5. ^ "Lincoln is Cougar jack-of-all trades". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. UPI. October 20, 1959. p. 22.
  6. ^ Johnson, Bob (November 27, 1959). "Wanted: quarterbacks". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 11.
  7. ^ "11 marks set by Cougar trio". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. November 22, 1960. p. 30.
  8. ^ Missildine, Harry (November 27, 1959). "Moose of Palouse paces Cougar victory". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 14.
  9. ^ Smudde, Emily (April 16, 2015). "Lincoln steps down as alumni director". Washington State University. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  10. ^ "Keith Lincoln named to state hall of fame". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 4, 1980. p. 3C.
  11. ^ Rockne, Dick (October 12, 1995). "Pac-10 Notebook -- Bledsoe Named WSU's Best Qb -- Edges Thompson In All-Time Vote". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  12. ^ "Keith Lincoln second pick of Chargers". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. November 22, 1960. p. 14.
  13. ^ "Keith Lincoln picks AFL L.A. Chargers". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. January 2, 1961. p. 15.
  14. ^ Smith, Michael David (July 28, 2019). "Chargers great Keith Lincoln dies at 80". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  15. ^ 2010 San Diego Chargers Media Guide (PDF). San Diego Chargers. 2010. p. 150. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 22, 2010.
  16. ^ Means, Raymond (January 6, 1964). "Chargers Smash Boston 51–10 For AFL Crown". The Press-Tribune. United Press International. p. A-5. Retrieved July 30, 2019 – via
  17. ^ a b c d e f Sandomir, Richard (July 29, 2019). "Keith Lincoln, San Diego Chargers Star in the A.F.L., Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Krasovic, Tom (July 27, 2019). "Keith Lincoln, former Chargers and AFL great, dies at 80". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  19. ^ "Are Chargers good enough for NFL opponents?". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. January 6, 1964. p. 3B.
  20. ^ a b Canepa, Nick (January 7, 2009). "Recalling the day 45 years ago when Lincoln ran wild". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  21. ^ Magee, Jerry (January 29, 1995). "Once upon a time in old AFL, Chargers had fairy-tale". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. Super Bowl-17. Lincoln's 206 yards rushing would represent a playoff record for 22 years, or until Eric Dickerson of the Rams ran for 248 against Dallas in 1985.
  22. ^ Brady, Erik (December 26, 2019). "Mike Stratton's 'Hit Heard 'Round the World': A Bills gift for the ages". The Buffalo News. Retrieved November 19, 2023.
  23. ^ "Chargers trade Keith Lincoln for Bills' Day". Lawrence Journal-World. Kansas. Associated Press. March 14, 1967. p. 12.
  24. ^ "Ex-Chargers fullback Keith Lincoln dies at 80". Associated Press. July 30, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  25. ^ Paris, Jay (February 3, 2001). "Lincoln was an unsung hero for AFL Chargers". North County Times. p. C-1. Retrieved July 30, 2019 – via
  26. ^ San Diego Chargers 2010, p. 228.
  27. ^ San Diego Chargers 2010, p. 231.
  28. ^ "Chargers Honor Lincoln". Lewiston Tribune. October 24, 2000. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012 – via
  29. ^ "Chargers 50th anniversary team". The Press-Enterprise. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "Keith Lincoln moves to Vandals". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. September 15, 1970. p. 14.
  31. ^ Washington (January 27, 1971). "Lincoln joins Cougar staff". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. p. 29.
  32. ^ Missildine, Harry (April 14, 1981). "Campbell, Moose to join 'Hall'". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 23.
  33. ^ Weaver, Dan (January 16, 1983). "Garbage? not quite". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. C3.