Mike Stratton
No. 58
Personal information
Born:(1941-04-10)April 10, 1941
Vonore, Tennessee, U.S.
Died:March 25, 2020(2020-03-25) (aged 78)
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:224 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school:Tellico Plains
(Tellico Plains, Tennessee)
AFL draft:1962 / Round: 13 / Pick: 100
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Quarterback sacks:31.5
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

David Michael Stratton (April 10, 1941 – March 25, 2020) was an American professional football player who was a linebacker for 12 seasons in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL). He won two AFL championships with the Buffalo Bills, where he was a six-time AFL All-Star. He was named to the AFL All-Time Second Team.

Stratton played college football for the Tennessee Volunteers. He played professionally for 11 years with the Bills and spent his final season with the San Diego Chargers. He won two AFL championships with the Bills in 1964 and 1965, with his tackle of Keith Lincoln in the former game being referred to as “The Hit Heard ‘Round the World”. His contributions as a team leader of a defense that allowed just seven points each in consecutive championship games as resulted in him being called one of the best defensive players in Bills history.[1]

Early life

Stratton attended Tellico Plains High in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, a hamlet in the Great Smoky Mountains region.[2][3] Football players there did not attract college recruiters, and Tellico Plains athletes rarely went to college. Stratton played tackle, fullback and wingback.[2]

Stratton received a scholarship from Volunteers coach Bowden Wyatt to play at the University of Tennessee.[2] He was a two-way player with Tennessee, playing tight end on offense and defensive end on defense.[4]

Professional career

Drafted out of college by the Buffalo Bills in the 13th round of the 1962 AFL draft, Stratton was selected as an AFL All-Star six straight seasons from 1963 through 1968.[3][5] Bills coach Lou Saban teamed him with Harry Jacobs and John Tracey to form one of the best linebacking crews, playing together for 62 consecutive games from 1963 through 1967, a pro football record. They helped the Bills defense hold opposing teams without a 100-yard rusher for seventeen consecutive games in 1964 and 1965, capturing AFL championships in both years.[6]

In the 1964 AFL Championship Game against the San Diego Chargers, Stratton made the memorable "hit heard 'round the world".[7][8] San Diego's Keith Lincoln had a 38-yard run on the game's opening play.[9][10] The Chargers were leading 7–0 when Stratton drove his shoulder into Lincoln's midsection, breaking the star running back's ribs and knocking him out of the game.[5][7] The Bills shut out San Diego for the rest of the game, and won 20–7.[7] In the closing minutes of the first half with Buffalo leading 13–7, the Chargers drove to the Bills' 15, but Stratton intercepted a Tobin Rote pass to end the threat. Rote and San Diego coach Sid Gillman called the turnover a decisive play.[11] The combined efforts of players such as defensive tackle Tom Sestak, cornerback Butch Byrd, and others led to two Bills championships, where they allowed seven points in each contest.

Stratton played 11 seasons for the Bills before ending his career with the Chargers in 1973. He finished his career with 21 interceptions—18 with the Bills and 3 with the Chargers.[5] He was selected to the AFL All-Time Second Team.[12]

Later years

After football, Stratton became an executive with insurance company Crump Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.[13] He and his wife raised three daughters and one son.

On March 25, 2020, Stratton died at age 78 from heart complications after a recent fall.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Clark Judge (May 13, 2020). "State Your Case: Buffalo never forgot LB Mike Stratton; so why has Canton?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Raymond (September 4, 1961). "'L'l Abner' End Promises Great Things For Vols". The Nashville Tennessean. p. 22. Retrieved March 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b "Mike Stratton Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft, College". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  4. ^ Miller, Jeffrey J. (2012). "41. The Man Who Made The Hit Heard 'Round The World". 100 Things Bills Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. ISBN 9781623680183. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Malorana, Sal (March 25, 2020). "Mike Stratton, who made one of the most famous plays in Buffalo Bills history, dies at 78". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  6. ^ "Harry Jacobs". Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "Mike Stratton". Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  8. ^ Northrop, Milt (March 26, 2020). "Amid all his honors, one big hit defined Mike Stratton's great Bills career". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  9. ^ Brady, Erik (December 26, 2019). "Mike Stratton's 'Hit Heard 'Round the World': A Bills gift for the ages". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  10. ^ Sullivan, Jerry (January 10, 1992). "Stratton has a vision of hit against Lincoln". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  11. ^ "Mike Stratton's 230 Pounds Helped Bills". The Herald-News. AP. December 28, 1964. p. 37. Retrieved March 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "The Best Outside Linebackers Not in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame". bleacherreport.com. May 22, 2010. Archived from the original on October 7, 2010.
  13. ^ "Where Are They Now?". Arizona Daily Sun. November 16, 1979. p. 12. Retrieved March 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Bills 50th All-Time team member Mike Stratton passes". www.buffalobills.com. Retrieved March 25, 2020.