It’s time for 1963 on NFL Thursday, as we look at league title-game MVPs for both the AFL and the NFL, as well as Rookies of the Year for both, too. We have a full slate to go over, and we don’t want to waste a second of your time—so let’s get to it …
Oh, and you can check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context, too. Enjoy!
1963 NFL Championship Game MVP: Larry Morris, LB, Chicago Bears (original); Richie Petitbon, S, Chicago Bears (revised)
It was a defensive struggle for the Chicago Bears to beat the New York Giants in the title tilt, 14-10, as Chicago linebacker Larry Morris was named the game’s MVP. We know you’ve never heard of him, but he seems to have won the vote because of multiple hits to the knees of Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle, and we are not going to reward a guy for dirty, cheap shots here on a 37-year old QB. That is garbage.
Overall, there were eight turnovers in this game, six by New York as Tittle threw five interceptions after being the league’s voted MVP in the regular season. Five different Bears defensive players were the beneficiaries, including Morris. We can’t give the MVP to Chicago QB Billy Wade, as he completed less than 50 percent of his 28 passing attempts and fumbled the ball away, as well.
Wade did score both Bears’ touchdowns on short runs, but his mediocrity elsewhere counterbalances those positives as his offense managed just 222 total yards. Instead, we give the MVP to Chicago safety Richie Petitbon, who recovered a fumble and sealed the game with an interception as the Giants were going for the winning score—in the end zone with just 10 seconds left in the contest.
1963 AFL Championship Game MVP: Keith Lincoln, FB, San Diego Chargers (original, confirmed)
The San Diego Chargers blew out the Boston Patriots, 51-10, in the AFL title tilt, and S.D. fullback Keith Lincoln garnered the MVP vote for putting 329 yards from scrimmage and scoring twice. It’s kind of hard to argue with that vote, considering that yardage number—which is insane. He ran for 206 yards on 13 carries, and Lincoln caught 7 passes for 123 additional yards, scoring once each way.
Overall, the Chargers gained 610 yards to just steamroll the Boston defense, and we will confirm Lincoln’s award here without further commentary. That scrimmage-yards mark is still a playoff record that stands today, by the way.
1963 NFL ROTY: Paul Flatley, LE, Minnesota Vikings (original); John Mackey, TE, Baltimore Colts (revised)
There were some solid candidates for this trophy: San Francisco 49ers halfback Don Lisbon (658 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs, 4 TOs); Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey (729 scrimmage yards, 7 TDs, 2 TOs); and Minnesota Vikings left end Paul Flatley (867 scrimmage yards, 4 TDs, 1 TO). Flatley won the vote at the time, despite his team’s 5-8-1 record in the West Division.
The 49ers were even worse at 2-12 in last place out West, although the Colts did manage an 8-6 finish to finish third in the same division (never mind why Baltimore was in the West Division!). For that reason, we give this award to Mackey instead. He scored more for a better team despite the disparity in scrimmage yards gained.
1963 AFL ROTY: Billy Joe, FB, Denver Broncos (original); Art Graham, WR, Boston Patriots (revised)
We have three legitimate candidates in this hardware scrum, as well: Denver Broncos QB Mickey Slaughter (65.4 QB rating); his backfield mate, fullback Billy Joe (736 scrimmage yards, 5 TDs, 3 TOs); and Patriots wide receiver Art Graham (550 scrimmage yards, 5 TDs, 1 TO). Joe won the vote, even though the Broncos posted just a 2-11-1 record.
Considering both Joe and Slaughter “contributed” to that crappy record—the worst in the league by three games—we’re giving this award to Graham, as Boston finished 7-6-1 and tied for the East Division title. Without him, the Pats do not make it to the title game, period.