Billy Cannon

Billy Cannon

Billy Cannon
Billy Cannon at LSU
No. 20, 33, 80
Position: Halfback / fullback / tight end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1937-08-02) August 2, 1937
Place of birth: Philadelphia, Mississippi
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 216 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school: Baton Rouge (LA) Istrouma
College: LSU
NFL draft: 1960 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
AFL draft: 1960 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Stats at
Stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

William Abb "Billy" Cannon (born August 2, 1937) is an All-American, 1959 Heisman Trophy winner and 2008 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and one of the American Football League's most celebrated players. He was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and moved to Baton Rouge when his father got a job there during World War II. He graduated from Istrouma High School in 1956.[1]


  • High school 1
  • College 2
  • AFL 3
  • Later life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

High school

Billy Cannon started high school at Istrouma in Baton Rouge, in 1952. He was noted for his speed and strength, and became a star athlete in football and track. In football, he scored 39 touchdowns his senior year, was named All-State and All-America and led his high school to a state championship in 1955.


Cannon played three seasons for LSU: 1957, 1958, and 1959. In 1958, Cannon led LSU to its first TCU in 1959.

The No. 20 jersey worn by Cannon was retired after the 1959 season. It was the only football number retired by LSU until 2009, when Tommy Casanova received this honor.

Cannon had been originally elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, but the Hall rescinded the honor before his induction due to his confessed involvement in a counterfeiting scheme (for more information on the scheme, see below).[2] The Hall elected him a second time in 2008,[3] and he was formally inducted during a ceremony on December 9 of that year.


Cannon had an uncommon combination of brute strength with the speed of a sprinter. A track and field coach is reported to have remarked during his college career that he could have lost 15 pounds and won the NCAA title in the 100 meter dash, or gained 15 pounds and won the NCAA title in the shotput. In AFL Championship game, a 24-16 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. He scored the only touchdown in the Oilers’ repeat victory over the San Diego Chargers in the second-ever AFL Championship game.

Cannon amassed 2,043 all-purpose yards in 1961, and led the league in rushing. He played for the Oilers from 1960 through 1963 and went to the Oakland Raiders in 1964. Al Davis converted him to tight end during the 1964 season, and he finished his career as one of the best players of all time at that position. Cannon was All-League in 1961 and played in the AFL All-Star Game as a halfback in 1961. He was an AFL All-League selection at tight end in 1967, when he scored 10 receiving touchdowns. He played tight end in the in 1969 AFL All-Star Game. He accounted for a total of 64 touchdowns in his career, 47 of them receiving. For his career, he amassed 3,656 yards receiving, 2,455 yards rushing, and 1,882 return yards for a combined total of 8,003 yards and 63 touchdowns. He also passed for 46 yards and one touchdown. He played in a total of six AFL Championship games, winning twice with the Oilers and once with the Raiders.

Billy Cannon is one of 20 players who played the entire ten years of the American Football League's existence. He is also one of 14 players to score 5+ touchdowns in one game, and also holds the Oilers/Titans franchise record for most points (30) and most touchdowns (5) in a single game.

Later life

Cannon works as a dentist at the Louisiana State Penitentiary

Cannon became an orthodontist after his pro football career, earning a D.D.S. at the University of Tennessee and additional degrees in orthodontia from Loyola University Chicago.[4] Despite a successful practice, by 1983 he was in financial difficulties from bad real estate investments and gambling debts. He became involved in a counterfeiting scheme and served 2½ years of a five-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Texarkana.[5] He printed $50 million in U.S. 100-dollar bills that he stored in ice chests, buried in the backyard of one of the houses he owned and rented out. Upon his release in 1986, he regained his license, but struggled to rebuild his practice.[2] He was Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)#01727-095.[6]

In 1990, Cannon was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of former Teamsters Union business agent Edward Grady Partin, whose testimony in 1964 had sent Jimmy Hoffa to prison for jury tampering.[7]

In 1995, he was hired as a dentist at the [2]

Cannon's son, Billy Cannon, Jr., played linebacker for Texas A&M University and was selected in the first round of the NFL draft in 1984, by the Dallas Cowboys.

Cannon resides in St. Francisville, Louisiana. On February 19, 2013, Cannon was hospitalized in intensive care in Baton Rouge after suffering a stroke. His family reported that he was alert and resting and that further tests would be conducted to determine the extent of his ailment.[8]


  1. ^ An utter disaster
  2. ^ a b c Thompson, Wright (2009-10-30). "The Redemption of Billy Cannon".  
  3. ^ Tiger Great Billy Cannon Elected to College Football Hall of Fame
  4. ^ Billy Cannon Biography
  5. ^ An utter disaster. (former football star Billy Cannon) - The Sporting News |
  6. ^ "Inmate Locator." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on June 2, 2015. Listed as "Billy Abb Cannon"
  7. ^ "Obituaries: Barlow and Related Families". Baton Rouge State Times, March 12, 1990, p. 6-A. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Cannon in intensive care after stroke".  

External links