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Bills AFL LB Mike Stratton (The Hit Heard 'Round The World) passes away at 78

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What a team, what a defense, what a great player.

 

And what great uniforms.  Seriously, I think those mid-60s unis were the best the Bills ever had.  

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I enjoyed having some conversations with Mike, and am proud to share a couple of his stories.

 

 

Buffalo drafted 34 players during the 1962 AFL draft, including linebacker Mike Stratton. Granted, not all of them reported, instead opting for the NFL or going a different way for other reasons. That said, it's little wonder that the coaches had difficulty remembering who was who or, for that matter, who played what position,

 

“Buster Ramsey had always been partial about everyone from Tennessee, so he was pretty instrumental in my being drafted. But when I got to camp, [Lou] Saban, who was the personnel director, had become the head coach by that time, and I wanted to be a tight end,” said Stratton. “Lou called out all the names of the players we had in camp and what time we were supposed to go out [onto to the field], and he never did call my name. So afterward, I walked over to him and said, ‘Coach, what group would you like me to go out with? He looked at me and says, ‘What was your name again?’ I told him, and he said. ‘Ah, just go out there with someone.’

 

“Anyway, they had already got Ernie Warlick from the Canadian League, and he was pretty well set as their tight end, so I didn't get much of an opportunity. They started me at defensive end, and I tried to play a little bit there. And then we got a bunch of linebackers hurt, thank goodness, and they changed me to linebacker. It was just a series of very fortunate events.”

 

With a career-high six interceptions during his rookie season, Stratton and the Bills were fortunate that he still possessed the soft hands of a tight end. “I'd always pictured myself as a tight end,” said Stratton, who would deliver “the hit heard ‘round the world” on San Diego's running back Keith Lincoln two years later in the AFL Championship Game. “Most linebackers, I think, came to linebacker from tight end. We sort of all pictured ourselves as tight ends, although not very many other people did.”

 

 

Memories of the AFL Championship Seasons

 

“I think it really started the year before. We finally got on a good track and started winning some games. Although we did lose a playoff game for our division to Boston in ‘63, ‘64 was when everybody sort of came together. It was what I consider more of a team effort than anything else. We had a good mixture. We had some folks that had played with other teams and other leagues and everything. And then we had some younger folks, too. I think Paul Maguire added quite a bit to our team as a punter and being able to see from the Chargers, who had a good run. Of course, he was telling everybody that he had more talent than the Chargers did. So I think he did a lot to build up the confidence of the team. Besides, all of his wisecracks and everything kept the team very loose. I think it was sort of a special time where we had a nice group of players that sort of came together and played with a lot of heart for each other. It was just more of a team effort than anything else.” 

Edited by Jim Gehman
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9 minutes ago, Old Coot said:

A video on Mike Stratton's career.  At 1:20 you can see two views of the "hit heard 'round the world."

 

https://buffalonews.com/2020/03/25/buffalo-bills-mike-stratton-afl-championship-hit-heard-round-the-world/

 

Chargers' coach Sid Gilman called it the most beautiful tackle he had ever seen.

If you don't know Stratton, this is a really good couple of minutes about him. 

 

Interesting that Stratton said the 64 Bills were about coming together as a team.   It wasn't the players, but the team.   Also interesting that he gives so much credit to Maguire.  

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A true great, who deserves HOF consideration, imo. With the type of athlete he was, I think he would have been successful in today's game. He was also the nicest guy you'd want to meet, off the field. RIP, Mike.

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