Crazy Canton Cuts: Pat Fischer

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 20, 2009

5'9" 170
1961 - 1977   (17 Seasons)
213 Games
56 Interceptions
941 Yards
4 Touchdowns
3 Pro Bowls

Patrick Fischer was a 17th!-round draft choice of the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1961. He was the 232nd! player picked overall. Fischer, a Omaha native, went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for college.

Fischer was a three-time Letterman for Nebraska in 1958, 1959, and 1960. Fischer was a halfback and cornerback, but he also spent time as a quarterback during his senior season.

His 17 seasons of NFL service rank him among the longest-serving NFL veterans in Nebraska history, joining his Husker teammates Ron McDole (18 NFL seasons) and Mick Tinglehoff (17 NFL seasons), and Irving Fryar (17 NFL seasons).

In 1958, Fischer tied for NU's team lead in touchdowns scored. He also led the Huskers in receiving that year. As a sophomore in 1958, Fischer led NU with 537 all-purpose yards.

He averaged 33.7 yards per kickoff return with seven returns for 236 yards, including a touchdown. He added nine punt returns for 139 yards. He also had one punt for 65 yards. He also had his first of two career interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. As a senior, he led the Huskers in total offense.

Fischer also led the Huskers in scoring. Fischer was one of the most prolific return specialists in Nebraska history, leading NU in punt return yards, kickoff return yards, and all-purpose yards in each of his three years on the field for the Huskers.

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In 1959, he led Nebraska with 737 all-purpose yards.

In 1960, Fischer ranked second nationally by averaging 21.2 yards per punt return. That same season he added 13 kickoff returns for 296 yards (22.8 ypr). He finished 1960 with a team-leading 953 all-purpose yards, he also had one interception as a senior.

Fischer led the Huskers in total offense and in scoring in 1960. He was the fourth Fischer brother to play for NU, joining Cletus, Ken, and Rex.

Fischer returned a few punts and kickoffs in his Cardinal career, as well as catching one pass for 22 yards in his rookie year. He made two Pro Bowls in 1964 and '65 for Saint Louis.

He signed with Washington as a free agent in 1968. He then made the 1969 Pro Bowl team. He was the team's shutdown cornerback on the 1972 Super Bowl team. NFL Films listed Fischer as the Redskins' All Time Neutralizer in the 1980s.

Fischer is still all over the Cardinals' record books. Fifth most interceptions with 29, fifth in interception return yardage with 529, third in interceptions returned for touchdowns with three, third in consecutive games with an interception by accumulating five, ninth longest for the longest interception return for a touchdown when he took it 69 yards in 1967.

In 1964, he returned two interceptions for touchdowns, which ranks second in Cardinal history. Fischer also ranks third for most interceptions in a season for the Cardinals, when he snared 10 in 1964.

Fischer also ranks seventh all time in Redskin history with 27 interceptions, and fourth all time in interception return yardage with 412. When he retired, Fischer had played in a then NFL record for games played by a cornerback with 213.

Fischer may appear small to those who never saw him play, but those who did know better. His battles with Philadelphia Eagles 6'8" wide receiver Harold Carmichael were legendary.

Fisher often was also matched up against Dallas Cowboys wide receiver "Bullet" Bob Hayes, the fastest man in the world at one time. Fischer was a rough "bump and run" style defender full of tricks.

One common move he would use was, if an opponent had to catch a pass over his head, Fischer would punch him in the gut or jaw. He made many plays versus the pass, but also excelled in run support.

Teams would often work away from Fischer and Ken Houston, when passing, due to their propensity of returning interceptions for touchdowns.

Pat Fischer played in an era where defenders had to work harder. The 10 yard chuck rule was not changed to five yards until the 1980's. Wide receivers also had to work harder to get open in that era.

The rushing attack was the primary weapon, and run support from defensive backs was a must in that era. Players like Deion Sanders may have been relegated to only punt return duty back then, possibly nickelback.

Fischer also excelled on special teams, which was a must for head coach George Allen and special teams coach Marv Levy.

Pat Fischer had an excellent career. Is it worthy of Canton? After seeing how long it took a superstar like Emmitt Thomas to get in, and how former great cornerbacks like Louis Wright, Ken Riley, and Lester Hayes are not in yet, it may be a long shot.

Still, after looking at how his numbers compare with those cornerbacks that are inducted, there is no doubt in my mind that Pat Fischer should be in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Other notable players drafted in 1961  (*denotes Hall of Fame)

5. Mike Ditka, TE, Chicago *
6. Jimmy Johnson, DB, SF 49ers *
7. Tom Matte, RB, Baltimore Colts
9. Bernie Casey, DB, SF 49ers (notable actor)
11. Billy Kilmer, RB, SF 49ers
12. Herb Adderley, DB, Green Bay *
13. Bob Lilly, DT, Dallas *
29. Fran Tarkenton, QB, Minnesota *
46. Ben Davidson, DL, NY Giants
48. Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd, DT, Chicago
50. Ron McDole, DE, Saint Louis
90. Dick Hoak, B, Pittsburgh
98. Irv Cross, DB, Philadelphia
110. Fred Cox, RB, Cleveland (later a longtime PK for the Vikings)
126. Wayne Fontes, RB, Philadelphia (Head coach of the Lions)
180. Elijah Pitts, DB, Green Bay
186. David "Deacon" Jones, DE, LA Rams *

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