Players like USC quarterback Bill Nelsen make writing these vignettes fun. Nelsen led the Trojans in total offense in 1960-61 and helped lead an upset of UCLA in in John McKay’s first season. He also played in 1962 when USC won a national title. But Nelsen often took a back seat to Pete Beathard.
Nelsen was just a 10th-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But his career took off in 1968, when he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He went 9-2 in 1968 and led the Browns to the playoffs. Nelson made the Pro Bowl in 1969 and Cleveland went 10-3-1. Nelsen also led the Browns to the playoffs in 1971.
He finished his NFL career with 14,165 yards passing and 98 TDs. The Cleveland Plain Dealer named Nelsen one of the top 100 Browns of all-time in 2012 (No. 52).