A day late but never a dollar short, we have our new edition of 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, for the 1965 season. x
Check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context, too. Happy Christmas Eve!
1965 NFL Championship Game MVP: Jim Taylor, FB, Green Bay Packers (original); Paul Hornung, HB, Green Bay Packers (revised)
The Green Bay Packers won the first of three straight NFL crowns with a 23-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns, and Packers fullback Jim Taylor was named the game’s MVP. Green Bay’s defense held the Browns offense to just 161 total yards while forcing two turnovers, both interceptions off Cleveland quarterback Frank Ryan. Meanwhile, Taylor posted 116 scrimmage yards, without a score.
Truthfully, Taylor managed just 96 yards rushing on a whopping 27 carries, so he wasn’t that special. We’re not sure why Packers halfback Paul Hornung was not the MVP: He ran for 105 yards on just 18 carries, and he also scored the clinching touchdown in the third quarter that put the game all but out of reach for Green Bay. We change this award, accordingly.
1965 AFL Championship Game MVP: Jack Kemp, QB, Buffalo Bills (original); Butch Byrd, CB, Buffalo Bills (revised)
The Buffalo Bills shutout the San Diego Chargers, 23-0, to win the AFL title, and Bills QB Jack Kemp was named the MVP as he threw for 155 yards and a TD. But he completed less than half his attempts, and Kemp tossed an INT, too. Not sure we’re going to agree with this selection, as the Buffalo defense held the Chargers to just 223 yards, while forcing 2 turnovers and getting 5 sacks.
In fact, we like cornerback Butch Byrd—our AFL ROTY pick last season—for this MVP nod, and here’s why: He returned a punt 74 yards for a score in the second quarter (at the 20:20 mark) that made the score 14-0, and Byrd also intercepted a pass while gaining 24 yards on the runback, too. That’s 98 total yards on two plays, which is more than any running back or receiver gained for the Buffalo offense.
1965 NFL ROTY: Gale Sayers, RB, Chicago Bears (original, confirmed)
This is sort of a no brainer to confirm, as Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers claimed the ROTY vote at the time for gaining 1,374 yards from scrimmage and scoring 20 TDs! He also added 898 return yards and two scores on special teams to have one of the best seasons in NFL history.
The Bears posted a 9-5 record, which wasn’t good enough for the postseason, but Sayers was electric. He also threw a TD pass as well. He did it all, and with appropriate benching in blowout games, he basically accomplished all this in just 12 games or so. Sayers was just stunning.
1965 AFL ROTY: Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets (original); Gene Foster, FB, San Diego Chargers (revised)
There were three good candidates for the AFL ROTY hardware, and New York Jets QB Joe Namath won the award at the time (18 TDs, 15 INTs, 68.7 QB rating), despite completing less than 50 percent of his passing attempts. We also like Chargers FB Gene Foster (668 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs) and Jets defensive end Verlon Biggs (8 sacks, 1 INT).
Now, the Jets finished just 5-8-1 with both rookies, five games behind first-place Buffalo in the East Division. That’s not saying much, when we know San Diego won the West Division with a 9-2-3 mark. Therefore, we give this nod to Foster instead, since New York was mediocre, even with last year’s ROTY vote winner on the roster as well.