This is a series based on the question posed above: players that are worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame but for some reason have not been.
He had a stellar AFL & NFL career and put up Hall of Fame numbers. He wore jersey numbers 12 & 3. He had two nicknames “The Fireman” and “The Mad Bomber”.
Daryle Lamonica QB – 1963 – 1974 Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Southern California Sun
Daryle Lamonica was born in Fresno, CA. He grew up on a farm raising peaches and grapes. His first big sports thrill was playing in the Little League World Series in Hershey Park, PA.
He lettered in four sports at Clovis High School, He was an All-State quarterback, and he turned down a professional baseball contract with the Chicago Cubs. Clovis High School renamed in football stadium Daryle Lamonica Stadium in 1974.
He accepted a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a Business Management degree. He was an All-American and the starting quarterback for three years, and still holds (tied) the school record of four TD passes in one game.
After a 20-for-28 349 yard performance he was voted the MVP of the 1962 East-West Shrine Game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, under coach Ara Parseghian. He was drafted by the NFL Green Bay Packers in the 1963 draft and by the AFL Buffalo Bills.
He played with the Bills for four seasons, backing up Jack Kemp on a team that won back –to-back AFL Championships in 1964 & 1965. It was in Buffalo that he earned the nickname “the Fireman”, coming into games if Kemp was hurt or ineffective, and pulling out victories.
In 1967, he was traded and came home to the Oakland Raiders with WR Glen Bass for WR Art Powell and QB Tom Flores. In his first year with the Raiders, he threw for 30 touchdowns and ran for four more. In 1969, he threw for 34 touchdowns and more than 3,300 yards.
It was in Oakland that Lamonica’s passing acumen earned him the nickname “The Mad Bomber” which was given to him by none other than Howard Cossell for his ability to throw long touchdown passes.
With Lamonica, the Raiders won three Western Division Titles and one American Football League Championship. The Raiders made one World Championship Game appearance with Lamonica as quarterback, losing to the Green Bay Packers, 33-14, in Super Bowl II.
Lamonica threw for two touchdowns in the game. Lamonica quarterbacked the Raiders during the “Heidi Game”. He was a three-time American Football League All-Star.
His first four years in silver & black were truly special. He led the Raiders to a 37-4-1 record, throwing 89 touchdown passes. He was voted the AFL’s MVP in 1967 and 1969. Lamonica’s last season in the NFL was in 1974. His last year in professional football was short-lived in 1975 for the California Sun of the World Football League.
Career Highlights and Awards
· 5 time Pro Bowl Selection (1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1972)
· AFL Champion (1964, 1965, 1967)
· 2 time AFL MVP
· 164 Touchdowns, 138 Interceptions
· 19,154 yards
· 72.9 Career QB Rating
In his 11 year career he played for
· Buffalo Bills ( 1963 – 1966)
· Oakland Raiders (1967 – 1974)
· California Sun (WFL) 1975
He retired as a guy known for his strong arm and accurate deep passes.
Daryle Lamonica was asked the question “What was your most memorable game for you when you played for the Raiders?” He responded “I have had some great ones. We had some really tough battles against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets.
The famous “Heidi” game because we were behind and we didn’t know they took us off national television and I’d just thrown a long touchdown pass to Charlie Smith.
It was called back because one of my wide receivers was in motion and Johnny Sample, their left cornerback comes up and pats me on the back and says “nice pass Lamonica, better luck next year”.
That fired my temper up and the defense held and we got the ball back with about a minute and 28 seconds left. I hit Charlie Smith going up the middle and he went in for a 60 or 65-yard touchdown.
We kicked off and they fumbled the ball and we recovered it in the endzone and we ended up scoring 14 points in nine seconds. That was the most memorable game because that one play changed the networks around now so they cannot take games off national television until its entirety.”
Daryle Lamonica went 66-16-6 as a starter, good for a .801 winning percentage, best in NFL history. He was inducted into the Fresno Hall of Fame in 1971; he was also inducted into the Italian American Hall of Fame in 1987. He is a guy who has earned a right to be in the Hall of Fame conversation.