Saturday, November 25, 2017

Otto Stowe: Outspoken And Out Of A Job

Topps football cards 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, custom cards that never were
One of the flashier players in the NFL in the early 70s was wide receiver Otto Stowe who got himself a Super Bowl ring as a member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.  Born in Chicago, Illinois and having left Iowa State as the all-time leader in receptions and yards, Stowe entered the NFL as a 2nd round pick of the Dolphins in 1971.

Used as the main back up to Paul Warfield, Stowe had productive second year (he caught 6 passes for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns on a Monday night game) and looked like he had the tools to be a star receiver.  Not seeing an opportunity to start in Miami, he requested a trade at the end of the Dolphins undefeated 1972 season. 

The Cowboys, who had been trying to replace the aging Bob Hayes and the retired Lance Alworth, traded the productive Ron Sellers and a 6th round draft choice for the speedier Stowe.  It looked like he had found the perfect home in 1973, catching 22 passes for a league leading 6 touchdowns in what was looking like a Pro Bowl season.  Stylistically, he had one of the leading afros in the NFL and, while with the Cowboys, he modeled suits for Hart Schaffner & Marx.  Unfortunately, he broke his ankle in the 7th game in 1973 and was lost for the rest of the season.

The feeble NFL Player's strike that started in training camp of the 1974 season put everyone in a bad mood and Stowe, who was one of the last of the veterans to cross the line, was soon singled out.  His ankle had not fully healed and he had a difficult training camp running on the rock-hard Thousand Oaks training camp surface.  He was also out-spoken about the way the Cowboys had treated Calvin Hill, who left to sign a contract with the WFL.  Receivers coach Mike Ditka said Stowe "was not applying himself" and was traded to the Denver Broncos on October 6, 1974 for a draft choice. "I hated to see that man go.  He could have helped us win the Super Bowl," said All-Pro tackle Rayfield Wright.  Cliff Harris and Mel Renfro considered him the "best receiver on the team."  Rookie Drew Pearson, who was mentored by Stowe, was also sad to see him go.

Still hampered by the ankle injury, Stowe had a disappointing 1974 season in Denver, catching only two passes.  Somehow, he was still in demand and was traded to the Rams at the beginning of the 1975 season but he announced his retirement on August 18, 1975.

RetroCards pays tribute to this underrated player who, like many other talented and overlooked players, didn’t have any sports cards in his entire career.  RetroCards has created a few and there are more to come so stay tuned.

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