Former Walter Camp All-American and Pro Football and College Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff (Florida State) is the recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s 2015 “Man of the Year” award.
The Walter Camp “Man of the Year” award honors an individual who has been closely associated with the game of football as a player, coach or close attendant to the game. He must have attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession. He must have contributed to the public service for the benefit of his community, country and his fellow man. He must have an impeccable reputation for integrity and must be dedicated to our American Heritage and the philosophy of Walter Camp.
Biletnikoff joins a distinguished list of former “Man of the Year” winners, including Roger Staubach (Navy), Gale Sayers (Kansas), Dick Butkus (Illinois), John Elway (Stanford) and last year’s recipient Jerome Bettis (Notre Dame).
“Fred Biletnikoff the wide receiver is synonymous with excellence,” said Foundation president Robert Kauffman. “However, his passion and commitment to helping others in need is what makes him a worthy Man of the Year recipient.”
A native of Erie, Pa., Biletnikoff attended Florida State University, where he played three seasons on both sides of the ball. In 1964, he earned Walter Camp All-America honors after recording 57 receptions for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Seminoles finished 9-1-1, including a Gator Bowl victory over Oklahoma.
Drafted in the second round (11th selection) in the 1965 AFL Draft, Biletnikoff played his entire professional career with the Oakland Raiders (1965 to 1978). He led the Raiders to three berths in the then-American Football League championship game (winning in 1967), and later earned Super Bowl XI Most Valuable Player honors when the Raiders defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14.
During his career, he earned All-Pro honors twice (1969 and 1972) and was selected to play in six Pro Bowls. Biletnikoff finished his career as the Raiders’ all-time leader in career receptions (589), receiving yards (8,974) and receiving touchdowns (76).
A durable and consistent player, Biletnikoff shared the NFL record with 10 consecutive seasons with 40 or more receptions, and he missed just eight games over his 14-year professional career.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
The Fred Biletnikoff Award, awarded annually since 1994 to the best wide receiver in the nation, was named in his honor by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc.
Following the untimely death of his daughter in 1999, Biletnikoff started the Tracey Biletnikoff Foundation, whose mission is to help teenage girls who are battling addiction, domestic violence and sexual abuse. In August 2015, the Foundation modernized Tracey’s Place, located in Loomis, Calif., to offer additional help to girls as they recover and prepare for the outside world.
Biletnikoff as well as all of the major award winners and members of the 2015 Walter Camp All-America team will be honored at the organization’s 49th annual national awards banquet on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at the Yale University Commons in New Haven. Please visit www.waltercamp.org for ticket information.
Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation (www.waltercamp.org) – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.
Man of the Year Recipients
2015 – Fred Biletnikoff, Florida State
2014 – Jerome Bettis, Notre Dame
2013 – Matt Millen, Penn State
2012 – Herm Edwards, San Diego State
2011 – Harry Carson, South Carolina State
2010 – Will Shields, Nebraska
2009 – John Elway, Stanford
2008 – Morten Andersen, Michigan State
2007– Dick Butkus, University of Illinois
2006 – Mike Utley, Washington State
2005 – Dwight Stephenson, Alabama
2004 – Anthony Munoz, Southern California
2003 – Ozzie Newsome, Alabama
2002 – Jim Kelly, Miami (Fla.)
2001 – Mike Singletary, Baylor
2000 – Howie Long, Villanova
1999 – Gil Brandt, Dallas Cowboys
1998 – Lou Holtz, Kent State University
1997 – Calvin Hill, Yale
1996 – Lynn Swann, Southern California
1995 – Reggie Williams, Dartmouth
1994 – Dick Anderson, Colorado
1993 – Warren Moon, Washington
1992 – Bob Griese, Purdue
1991 – Mel Blount, Southern
1990 – Nick Buoniconti, Notre Dame
1989 – Paul Brown, Miami (Ohio)
1988 – Andy Robustelli, Arnold
1987 – Levi Jackson, Yale
1986 – Willie Davis, Grambling
1985 – Ricky Bleier, Notre Dame
1984 – Don Shula, John Carroll
1983 – Roger Staubach, Navy
1982 – Merlin Olsen, Utah State
1981 – Otto Graham, Northwestern
1980 – Gale Sayers, Kansas
1979 – Jack Kemp, Occidental
1978 – Floyd Little, Syracuse
1977 – Fred Dunlap, Colgate
1976 – Edward Krause, Notre Dame
1975 – Pete Dawkins, Army
1974 – Jake Gaither, Knoxville College/Florida A&M
1973 – Duffy Daugherty, Syracuse/Michigan State
1972 – Clinton Frank, Yale
1971 – Doc Blanchard, Army
1970 – Harry Kipke, Michigan
1969 – Pete Rozelle, San Francisco
1968 – Ted Blair, Yale
1967 – Hamilton Fish, Harvard