Kappy’s Nook: Maynard, Dorsett, Sanders among the many Solar Bowl sizes | way of life

While the Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl won’t play on December 31st, here are some of the game’s players and coaches who later went on to go great in the NFL.

Sid Gillman

Gillman coached Miami of Ohio in the 1948 Sun Bowl. Gillman later coached the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and the Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers of the AFL before retiring as head coach of the Houston Oilers. With the Chargers, Gillman won the AFL Championship in 1963 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

Don Maynard

Maynard played for Texas Western in the Sun Bowl in 1957. After his rookie season with the New York Giants, Maynard later teamed up with quarterback Joe Namath to form one of the top passing attacks in the AFL. In 1969, the Jets angered the Baltimore Colts to win Super Bowl III, and Maynard pulled out with virtually every reception record. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Merlin Olsen

The talented defensive device was the star of the Utah Sun Bowl team in 1960, and Olsen kept the NMSU Aggies in play for only 44 yards. Olsen was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1962 and became a key member of their “Fearsome Foursome” defense. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

Tony Dorsett

A year after leading Pittsburgh to a Sun Bowl victory in 1975, Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. He won a Super Bowl in his rookie season, finishing the race with 12,739 rushing yards and 77 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons. In 1994 Dorsett was inducted into the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

James Lofton and Bill Walsh

Both Lofton (wide receiver) and Walsh (head coach) came to El Paso with Stanford in 1977 and beat LSU 24-14 scored a touchdown in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Walsh led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles and is widely recognized as one of the game’s greatest coaches. Both Lofton and Walsh entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders

The running-back tandem led Oklahoma State to a narrow 35:33 win over West Virginia in the 1987 Sun Bowl. Thomas scored four goals in the game and received Sun Bowl MVP honors, but Sanders was mostly used on special teams. Both Thomas and Sanders played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions, respectively. Thomas played in three Super Bowls while Sanders only left Walter Payton behind for the fastest yards in league history (he was later overtaken by Emmitt Smith). Sanders was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, while Thomas joined him in 2007.


Since 1997 Steve Kaplowitz has been organizing “Sportstalk” on weekdays from 4pm to 7pm on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can send him an email at skaplowitz@krod.com. His column appears regularly in the B section of El Paso Inc.

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