Walt Sweeney
No. 78
Personal information
Born:(1941-04-18)April 18, 1941
Cohasset, Massachusetts
Died:February 2, 2013(2013-02-02) (aged 71)
San Diego, California
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:256 lb (116 kg)
Career information
NFL Draft:1963 / Round: 8 / Pick: 107
AFL Draft:1963 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Walter Francis Sweeney (April 18, 1941 – February 2, 2013) was an American football offensive lineman and end, who played college football at Syracuse University, where he made the school's all-century team. He also played in the North-South Game and the College All-Star Game. A first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 1963, Sweeney helped them win the American Football League championship.


A premier guard, Sweeney was versatile enough to fill virtually any offensive line position. He was named to All-Star teams and Pro Bowls for nine consecutive years at offensive guard, beginning with the 1964 AFL All-Star Team, and in 1970 was selected to the All-Time All-AFL second-team. Sweeney spent 11 seasons as an offensive guard with the Chargers, then played two seasons with the Washington Redskins.[1] The Professional Football Researchers Association named Sweeney to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2009 [2]

Sweeney, who stood 6'4" and weighed 256 pounds, was such an intimidating presence on the field that Merlin Olsen famously remarked he'd "rather sell used cars" than play against Sweeney each game.[1] Sweeney was among several Chargers fined by the league in 1974 for drug use.[1] A fierce critic of the NFL, he blamed the league for his prolonged problems with drugs and alcohol. Towards the end of his life he retained this bitterness. "If a guy breaks his back in the N.F.L., they'll pay him. That didn't happen to me. Instead, these guys broke my mind."[3] He briefly served as a drug counselor at a San Diego hospital and appeared with Nancy Reagan in a promo for her "Just Say No" campaign.[1]


Sweeney died of pancreatic cancer on February 2, 2013 at his home in San Diego, California.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Perry, Tony. (2013, February 6). "Walt Sweeney dies at 71; offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers", Los Angeles Times; accessed September 29, 2014.
  2. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2009". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  3. ^ Notice of death of Walt Sweeney, nytimes.com, February 8, 2013; accessed September 29, 2014.
  4. ^ Walt Sweeney obituary, espn.go.com; accessed September 29, 2014.