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September 25, 2004

Whatever Happened to…. Billy Kilmer

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Written by: Robert Janis

What Ever Happen To…. Billy Kilmer
by
Robert Janis

(I interviewed Billy Kilmer by phone on May 6, 2004)

If it wasn’t for his mother, he may have been known today as a Major League baseball player. His toughness proved doctors wrong when they said he would never walk again. And his stubbornness was instrumental in embarrassing a Dallas Cowboys head coach when that coach questioned his athletic skills just before the 1972 NFC Championship game. Billy Kilmer played tailback and quarterback for the San Francisco 49′ers and quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins during a career that ran for 16 years from 1961 through 1978.

Born September 5, 1939 and raised in Azusa, California, a town just east of Los Angeles, Kilmer credits his dad’s father as the one who encouraged him to get into sports. “My grandfather took me to my first football game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. When I saw the Coliseum for the first time, I knew I wanted to play there some day,” he recalled.

He got his first chance to play organized sports when he attended Citrus Union High School outside Los Angeles from 1953 to `57. He played football, baseball and basketball. He especially liked basketball and was an All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) player of the year and made the all-star teams two years. In his senior year in 1957 Scholastic Magazine listed him as one of the top 30 basketball players in the United States. He also made the first team CIF in baseball. His freshman year he played fullback in football and made the varsity team his sophomore year and played fullback. He was converted into a quarterback later in a Split T offense. He commented that he didn’t throw the ball a lot, but mostly ran the ball. Although he played the game, he didn’t much like football when he was in high school. “I never thought I would continue in football. My best sports were basketball and baseball,” he said. He played all the positions in baseball except pitcher.

He was so good in baseball, in fact, that upon his graduation from high school the Pittsburgh Pirates offered him $50,000 to play baseball. Other major league teams showed interest too. But Kilmer’s mother nixed the deal saying that if he signed the contract and played baseball he would never go to college. “She was probably right,” quipped Kilmer. His dad went along with his mom’s decision. Instead of pro baseball, Kilmer accepted a football scholarship to attend the University of California in Los Angeles. “The UCLA football team played a single wing formation and I was fascinated by the tailback position in the single wing,” said Kilmer. He also received a scholarship offer to play basketball for John Wooden at UCLA. He didn’t take the scholarship, but he did play basketball for the school in his junior year (1959-’60 season). He also played semi-pro baseball during the summers for a home based team called the Monrovia Merchants and for a traveling team. “When I played for Monrovia other teams would come to us and play,” he said. The traveling team was managed by a major league scout. Kilmer noted that he mainly played shortstop but he also played all the other positions except for pitcher at one time or another.

He was a first round draft choice of the San Francisco 49′ers and was also drafted by the American Football League Los Angeles Chargers in the fifth round. He signed with the 49′ers for $15,000 and a $6,000 bonus. By the time he left the 49′ers he was making $19,000.

Prior to attending camp with the 49′ers his rookie season in 1961, Kilmer played in the college all-star game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ironically, Sonny Jurgensen quarterbacked the Eagles in that game. Kilmer was the MVP.

When he joined the 49′ers it appeared as if he would be competing against Y.A. Tittle, John Brodie and Bob Waters for the quarterback position. However, one week after Kilmer arrived at camp the 49′ers traded Tittle to the New York Giants which gave Kilmer a little bit of a better chance to make the team. He also noted that the head coach of the 49′ers at the time, Red Hickey, was introducing the shot gun offense and had decided to alternate quarterbacks during the game. “Hickey rotated the quarterbacks during the six or so games he used the shot gun,” said Kilmer. “I would be used on first down, primarily a running down. I think I threw only three passes off of the formation during the six games we used it. Bobby would go in on second down and depending on the situation he’d throw or run. Then Brodie was used on third down. He was mostly the passer.”

Kilmer pointed out that he ran for 135 yards in one game which stood for a long time as the most rushing yardage by a quarterback. He also ran for four touchdowns in another game. Another record that stood for awhile.

Sports Illustrated did an article about Hickey’s shotgun offense and described it as the offense of the `60s. However, when the 49′ers actually used it in six games it was not successful and the team went to the T formation and Brodie was named the quarterback.

At the 49′ers camp prior to the start of the 1962 season, Kilmer noted that some of the team’s running backs were injured. So he was moved to running back and performed well in some exhibition games. He actually started the season for the 49′ers as a running back. However, during the season Kilmer was badly hurt in a traffic accident. He broke a leg. Moreover, the leg became infected and there was a chance that he might lose it. The doctors said that he would never walk again. “I was in the hospital for three months with my leg in traction,” remembered Kilmer. “When I finally got out of the hospital I had to keep going back as an out-patient because an area of the leg where there was an open wound was still draining and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. A doctor finally discovered that there were three bone chips in the wound. The chips were taken out, the leg healed and it hasn’t been a problem since.”

Kilmer missed the 1963 season and worked hard to re-hab the leg. The 49′ers kept him on injured reserve through that season and he used the team’s facilities — weights, etc. — during his re-hab. He was determined to come back for the `64 season. “I always wanted to be a professional athlete and I wasn’t going to give it up easy. I loved the life and I loved to play, I loved everything about it. So I was determined that I would come back and play quarterback.

“Another motivating factor was that my dad owned a dry cleaning business. When I got out of the hospital and went back home he said, `You’ll never play again. So you might as well learn the dry cleaning business.’ I was pressing pants in Pomona, California in August when it was 100 degrees outside and the steam from the press was hitting me in the face. I said, `I am not going to do this for the rest of my life.’ So I worked even harder in re-hab.” He did return for the `64 season and played in 10 games for the 49′ers at quarterback.

In 1967 the NFL added two new franchises — the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. Kilmer was left unprotected by the `49′ers in the expansion draft and he was selected by the New Orleans Saints. “Tom Fears was head coach of the Saints and he had been a coach with UCLA,” said Kilmer. “He knew me and he liked me so he took me in the expansion draft.” The plan was for Kilmer to be the third team quarterback. However, he worked hard in training camp; performed well in the exhibition games and won the starting job. He was the starting quarterback for the Saints for four years. When Archie Manning was drafted by the Saints in the first round prior to the 1971 season, Kilmer became expendable and was traded to the Redskins for Tom Roussel and a fourth round draft choice. It was the first trade George Allen made after he had been named head coach and general manager of the Redskins. And Kilmer had a hint that such a trade may take place. “When I was playing with the Saints we would play the Los Angeles Rams twice a year home and home. So I played once a year in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Allen was coaching the Rams. After a game I was walking up the ramp and Tommy Mason, a player for the Rams, approached me and said, `George Allen really likes you. He talks about you all the time. He talks about the way you play, your toughness. He really likes you. He just may trade for you.’ I thought that the Rams didn’t need me, they had Roman Gabriel at quarterback. Soon Allen left the Rams and was hired by the Redskins and soon after that the trade was made.”

Kilmer wasn’t sure if he wanted to play for Allen and the Redskins. “George called me and I told him that I was 31 years old. I didn’t have many years left and I knew I would be a back up to Jurgensen. There were other places I could play where I could start right away. Lou Saban wanted me in Denver. Allen said, `I want you in Washington. We are going to win here and you are going to be a part of it. We’re going to turn this thing around.’ It sounded corny, but his eyes showed me he was sincere. So I decided to stick around.” It was made clear, however, that he was there to back up Jurgensen and Kilmer knew it.

However, Jurgensen got hurt during the exhibition season and Kilmer started at quarterback when the season began. The `Skins went on to win their first five games and the Redskins made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. And that was the start of a successful eight year career with the Washington Redskins and the beginning of what some would call a quarterback controversy.

As far as Kilmer was concerned, there was no controversy. “Allen liked me, there’s no doubt about that. But when I won, he played me. When I lost, he put Jurgensen back in. Then Jurgensen would get hurt and I would go back in. It had nothing to do with me and Sonny. And Allen never tried to put a wedge between me and Sonny.

“There was a personality conflict between George and Sonny but I didn’t know why. George wanted Sonny to go along with the program and Sonny would bump his system from time to time. But there was never anything between me and Sonny. The way I look at it is that I got my shot. When you get a chance to play, you better perform. That’s what an athlete does and if you don’t perform, you’re not going to play. I don’t care what sport it is. When I got my chance to perform, I won and it was hard to get me out of there when I won. I didn’t have a controversy with Sonny. I knew my place and I knew that if Jurgensen was healthy he’d be playing.”

Kilmer and Jurgensen actually developed a pretty close friendship. “We both like to have a good time, drink a few, we liked the same things and had the same friends.” Kilmer volunteered that he, Jurgensen, Diron Talbert, Lenny Haus, and Ron McDole would all get together and go out to a restaurant in Washington every Thursday. After Jurgensen retired they kept doing it.

Jurgensen retired after the 1974 season. Kilmer doesn’t think that Allen forced him to leave. “He was ready to go,” said Kilmer. “He had a TV deal with CBS and he was 41 or 42 years old at the time. I heard that the World Football League had contacted him to play one season for the Philadelphia franchise and I know that he was considering it.

“When Sonny’s contract was up I was negotiating for a new contract. I wanted to be traded and I knew that San Francisco needed a quarterback at the time. Brodie had retired. I tried to get Allen to trade me but he never would.

“Sonny had a meeting with Allen in `74 just before I met with Allen to talk about my contract. The two of us bumped into each other as Jurgensen was walking down the street and me up the street at old Redskins Park. I asked Sonny what happened. He said that Allen wanted him to play another year but he told him he was going to retire. I asked him, `Are you?” And he said, `Yeah, I guess I am.” Kilmer then talked to Allen and signed a contract to play another year for the `Skins.

Kilmer noted that he did not get a long well with Joe Theisman. Allen obtained Theismann in a trade for a draft choice with the Miami Dolphins and expected him to back up both Kilmer and Jurgensen. “Theisman started off on the wrong foot. In 1974 he was brought in and there was a players’ strike so the rookies played two or three exhibition games without the veterans in camp. Theisman had a good game in one of those exhibitions and a reporter with the Washington Post asked him, `What do you think is going to happen when Jurgensen and Kilmer come back to camp.’ Theismann said, `I’m going to put those two old men on the bench.’ And it was quoted in the paper. I called Sonny and said, `Did you see what he said?’ Sonny laughed and said, `Yeah, well we’ll have him catching punts at the end of the year.’ And my God we did.”

Kilmer played two memorable games for the Redskins, the NFC Title game against the Dallas Cowboys on New Year’s Eve 1972 and Super Bowl VII against the Miami Dolphins in January, 1973. A comment by Cowboy coach Tom Landry prior to the NFC title game motivated and focused Kilmer to play probably one of the best games of his career. Kilmer read in the newspaper the day of the game that Landry said the Cowboys would beat the Redskins because Roger Staubach was a better athlete than Billy Kilmer. That really upset Kilmer. “It was the best motivator in the world. I got rid of all the nervousness and focused on that game.”

Kilmer did not fair as well in the Super Bowl. “Miami scored 14 points in the first half and we shut them out in the second half,” recalled Kilmer. “Hell, in the second half I was down inside their 20 two or three times and couldn’t score. I had Jerry Smith open in the endzone on one play and my pass hit the goalpost. I never hit the goalpost before.” It may be ironic to note that the league moved the goalpost from the goal line to the back of the endzone the following year, commented Kilmer.

He retired in 1978 after George Allen left the `Skins and returned to the Rams and Jack Pardee was hired as head coach of the `Skins. Kilmer’s first contract with the Redskins was for $60,000 with a $30,000 (or so) bonus. He signed a multi-year contract for 1973, 74, and 75 which stepped up his salary every year from $120,000 in `73; $140,000 in `74 and $160,000 in `75. He got up to a yearly salary of $200,000 during his career with the `Skins.

Kilmer claimed that he was approached to coach Tulane University in 1976 when he was still playing for the Redskins but George Allen convinced him to stay with the team. He said that he never had a desire to pursue any coaching opportunities later. “As a coach you don’t have control of your own destiny. The players are making more money than you are and some players listen and others don’t. You work a lot of hours for what. I didn’t like that life.”

He did, however, serve as a commissioner of a Spring professional football league in 1981. The league had teams in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Shreveport, Louisiana; and San Antonio, Texas. It was the year that there was a major league players’ baseball strike. Kilmer had negotiated a TV deal for the league but the team owners didn’t have enough money to sustain the deal. Kilmer quit and the league folded after just one season.

Since retiring from the Redskins Kilmer has owned a piece of the John Koon Chrysler-Plymouth Dealership in Washington and he worked for Clint Markinson, the former owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Markinson’s company owned seven banks in four states and Kilmer served as marketing director. He also worked as a host for golf tournaments and Super Bowl parties as well as other special events at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

Today he lives in Coral Springs, Florida with his wife Sandy. He also participates in golf tournaments around the country and sponsors his own tournament for Citrus Junior College near Azusa, California. The tournament has been going on for 18 years. “My daughter has cerebral palsy. She’s never been out of a wheelchair her whole life. She’s now 44. She went to Citrus Junior College 18 years ago. They have a program there for handicap people but the gym they use was too old and the equipment was bad. The athletic director of the college asked if he could put my name to a golf tournament to help raise money for the program and I said, `Sure.’ So every year I get pro athletes like Sonny and Paul Horning and L.A. athletes to participate. Through the years we’ve raised a lot of money and we’ve been able to buy new equipment and the state stepped in and built a new facility.” He said that his daughter is still involved in the program today.



About the Author

Robert Janis





44 Comments


  1. …A very nice bio piece. I was a fan of “Old Furnace Face” when I was just a kid and he was quarterbacking the New Orleans Saints. It’s safe to say that he and Danny Abramowicz were my childhood heroes. Thanks for a very nice piece of work. B.V.


  2. Michelle Borda

    Billy Kilmer was my first love of sports. What a man of character. He makes the bums in Redskins’ jerseys today look so mediocre.

    Long live #17. I named one of my dogs after him, and Sonny!


  3. Billy Kilmer was my first hero when I was a kid and football will never be the same for me since he left the game.


  4. Jim Gulli

    I met Bill at Citrus College, where he played his freshman year before going to UCLA, and knew he would be a pro. I was a running back and wide receiver. He threw a ball which looked the size of a basketball and it was really easy to catch. I loved John Unitas’ comment:”Kilmer throws an option pass, you have option of catching either end.” Kilmer is the most generous person I have known, and he never forgets his old friends; his daughter is a hero and a great fighter from her wheel chair! His mom still hosts Billy’s “Over the Hill Gang” each March for a charity golf tournament. From Billy’s wife, to all his family, you will never meet a more wonderful family.


  5. gerry

    I too grew up watching Billy Kilmer play for the New Orleans Saints. We were in his fan club and the day he was traded by the Saints I was at the hospital visiting him after his surgery.

    It was nice to hear that he and Sandy are still together. I did get to meet her that day at the hospital and wondered if they were still together.

    I would love to have his email address as I would love to contact him and see him if possible as I live not far from Coral Gables. He may not remember me and my mom but there is a good chance he may.

    Billy made me love football and admire someone that came from that horrible car accident. It made me think through the years that you can overcome anything.


  6. Jeff

    I am 45 now Billy has been my hero since I was 6 years old. Thinking about how he thrived in difficult situations has helped me all my life, in football and in life. I think back watching those Redskin games with George Allen leading the team on to the team on the Feild, and there was Billy toughter that anyone, single bar mask, thin shoulder pads, no knee or thigh pads and many times no chin strap. Playing against the pretty polished Dallas Cowboys, who I hated with all my heart for trying to beat my Redskins. Hail to the Redskins and Hail to you Billy! You Single Bar wounded duck chucking, best leader of all time good ole boy.


  7. Born and raised in D.C. Been a ‘Skins fan forever.

    Always loved Sonny and Billy. Those were the days. Great guys, Great q.b’s.

    I have a treasured photo of G. Allen, Lenny Hauss and Billy talking strategy during a game.

    Wonderful times to be a fan..pre-Snyderman


  8. Scott Ryan

    Billy Kilmer. A real football player. Played for the love of the game. Beat the odds on everything he did. A mans man. Wore his jersey all thru high school. Never got to meet the man,but wish I could.


  9. Lee in Oregon

    I grew up watching the ‘Skins, I had the “I Love Sonny” sticker on our stationwagon but I loved Billy too. Turn’s out they were buds. Thanks for the great piece.


  10. joe

    Billy K is my all time favorite Redskin! Brooks is my all time favorite O.


  11. cisco carlos

    i was a teammate of billy with the monrovia merchant baseball team the other teammates were kieth lincoln running back with chargers and ed spanky kirpatrick baseball player.lets play golf in phx,az.i still owe you. cisco


  12. Ted Schumacher

    I started the “I LIKE SONNY/I LIKE BILLY” bumper stickers in Washington DC in the fall of 1971. Sonny was my favorite but lots of people loved Billy too. He was great for the team. NFL Films is going to do a new piece on Sonny. I wish they would do one on Billy as well….Ted Schumacher


  13. I watched Billy play football, basketball and baseball while at Citrus Union High School and Citrus College.
    In his senior year in high school, I worked with him for one week, so he could attempt to get his “Letter” in Track.
    In one meet, he earned his “Letter”.
    He was an outstanding baseball player and would have made it in the major leagues. I went to a baseball game while he was playing at Citrus College and there were more scouts there than fans. Billy and a few other players were being carefully watched by a whole host of scouts.
    I have many other stories about Billy, which just point to him being the greatest sports figure to pass through the San Gabriel Valley.


  14. Billy Kimbal i belive in 71 came to Lewis County hospital and signed a photograph for my dad after being burnt and years spent in the hospital.


  15. terry

    Billy Kilmer was my favorite Saint. Watched every game he played in New Orleans. He used to live down the street from us, one day at Christmas time some friends and I gathered up what little money get kids can find and bought him some plastic plates to give him. Sadly he was not home so we left them at the door. Always wondered if he got them. Billy it was not a joke you were our hero.


  16. tom hodgin

    I followed Choo-Choo Justice from Carolina to the Skins and never left them…Sonny and Billy were the Skins to me…But back then I knew the names of the whole team..all through the years…as I get older I have to look them up and it all comes back…from Eddie L. to Bones T. etc…what a wonderful part of my life..I got to see them once around ’89 or 90′ in an exhibition game against Atlanta at UNC stadium..we lost but who cares..thanks Billy for what you and the teams have givin us Redskin Fans over the years….tom


  17. I became a Skins fan and a Billy Kilmer fan in 73. I’ll never forget seeing Billy in the final two minutes of a game- against the Giants- I think. Anyway, a defense player got under Billy’s one bar face mask and appeared to break his nose. The defense thought it was all over because they were up by more than 3 points and they thought the starting QB was out. Billy stayed out for one play, wiped his nose, came in and threw the winning TD pass. That’s tough- that’s a field general- that’s a hero.


  18. David

    My best Billy Kilmer memory was when Tom Brookshier called him “Old Whiskey Face” during a football telecast on CBS. It was the perfect moniker for one of the toughest quarterbacks I ever saw play.


  19. Thomas Turrill

    I played against Bill Kilmer when he was at Citrus College in football. I was a halfback at Mt. San Antonio J.C. He ran over me several times. Played baseball against him when he was with Monrovia Merchants semi pro team. He hit a home run right handed, next time up he hit a home run left handed. Two of the longest balls I’ve ever seen hit. Loved watching him at UCLA & beyond. Incredible athlete.


  20. Doug Christensen

    Well, what can I say….it’s been a long time since I saw Bill. He dated my mother back in the early 60s here in Mountian View, specificly hanging out at the Del Charro Apartment complex when I was only 4 to 6 years old. I remember this guy well. He used to say to me “that guy is going to grow up and play football when he grows up, just look at how he’s built”, The NFL made film about him, the name of the film was “THE HEART of the NFL” as well other players, but they never received that name on their film. He made me feel (without a dad) that I was worth having one, and he was more than that, always joking, and his ever present smile. Me being mostly serious back than, told me about important things, and how to think, as so that I could get through difficult situations as a young kid. He was actually as serious as serious gets, but covered his exceptional persona with a grin that would capture everyone. I could tell you stories! Hanging out with the likes of Gene Washington, John Brodie, remembering Bill with a crutch, after the plumbing truck incident. Being “drafted” as a “football” in an apartment living room scrimage…”what do we do for a defensive line asked on of the 49ers? Answer: roll over that couch on it’s back!” These players never made much other than an average living back then making $14,000/yr, but you could’nt stop them having a good time all summer long. Everybody knew everyone else it seemed, and I knew Bill. Yes, Bill knew how to have fun, and it was so contagious. Attended many games with tickets on the 50 yard line. Sitting on those concrete benches at the now demolished Keisar Statium. I never saw him again after he left for a position with the Saints, and after showing up at the Redskins, he was always cheered on at our house. Bill did have a huge heart, and if I learned anything ever in my life, it was when I was little, and looked up to this man who was one heck of a footballer, who could tell a little kid about life, with no dad around, and mom with no support, gave me the greatest present anyone could ever give, his heart. During the time since, many years have gone by, and so I have learned to hear others tell me a small bit of what he gave me, that I had a “big heart” as well, well, not really. I still stand as I stood then, in the shadow of a giant. The Heart of the NFL. God Bless you Bill Kilmer, (& your famly) and thanks.


  21. Mick Collins

    I met Billy at his fathers dry cleaning shop in Pomona,CA in 1978. That was a huge thrill for me as I had been a fan of his since he started QBing the Redskins in 71′. I’ve not seen an athlete before him or since that inspired me to watch and want him to lead his team to victory as much. His spirit and determination were so contagious, just a truly great leader.
    Now, after reading this article I’ve learned even more about him I didn’t know and of the good work he’s still doing. Heck I would have liked to see him play basketball and baseball too! I’d just like to send best wishes always and for him to know he’ll never be forgotten by me. “I LIKE OL’ FURNACE FACE”


  22. Fred Ortman

    I met Bill Kilmer at Citrus High School and played football on the team that Bill Kilmer quaterbacked. Although I never played much I did play end and tried to catch several of Bill’s thrown Balls. Bill was quite an athlete in all sports he played. Bill’s father had a cleaning business in Azusa CA and I lived in Azusa. My dad worked for Lucky Larger brewery which was bought out by Miller’s brewing co. and Dad retired from the brewery in 1978. I became a teacher and then a school Principal in Fontana Ca. and retired in 1996. I am now a Real Estate Broker and have my own business in Coachella CA


  23. Kevin Turner

    Lon Simmons on San Francisco 49er radio play-by-play…circa 1963…49ers versus Minnesota Vikings at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco…

    “Mira…back to pass…dishes it off to Kilmer…Kilmer, driving for the first down…LOSES THE FOOTBALL…It’s picked up by Marshall…WHO’S RUNNING THE WRONG WAY!!!! JIM MARSHALL IS RUNNING THE WRONG WAY!!! THINKS HE”S SCORED A TOUCHDOWN!!! HE HAS SCORED A SAFETY!!!”


  24. shawn

    I like Billy!


  25. Al J. Vela

    Bill and I met at Citrus High School in 1954, we played football together, it was his freshman year ,my junior year, Bill was the team kicker that year,I played right halfback,punt,kickoff returner,safety as well, in thoes days you played both offence and defence. The following year he played quarterback, the rest is history.
    Followed Bill his intire career,while recovering from a fractured leg, we played lot’s of golf together. When Bill sponsored the golf tournament for Citrus College, many of his highschool buddies participated and raised thousands of dollars for equipment to help handicaped people at Citrus College.
    September 2011 many of his high school buddies honored Bill at his 72nd birthday party at the Glendora C.C. My wife and I still see his daughter Kathy weekly when she visit’s us at the Village Goldsmith Jewelry Store in Glendora where she lives. Whenever Bill is in town we make it a point to see each other even though our golf playing days are over. A friend for life.


  26. buddy maupin

    Billy, you were the toughest SOB to ever play what has become a sissy position. I remember Toddle House and your single bar facemask and how you and Sonny stayed tight in a competition that would have todays’s prima donnas whining on their cellphones to their agents. And then that scab Theisamann–y’all did him right.


  27. Phil

    Billy was my hero growing up. I used to have a weekly feud with my best buddy over who was better. Staubach or Kilmer. To this day I still say Kilmer. Love you buddy. You bring a lot of great memories to me. Got to say though, as I get older, I have to give a lot of respect to Staubach. Class act.


  28. Jack Wooldridge

    Hi Bill.I don’t know if you remember me. I played football and basketball with you. I was in the Lark Ellen Boy’s home with Art Brionus, and plyed with you in “B” football and played opposite end as you. Just wanted to say, “Hi”. “Hope things are going well”.
    PS. Remember we played football with the small football. You could throw it about 45 yrds.
    “Skinny Jack”


  29. anthony giovingo sr

    billy thanks for all those great memories on sundays at tulane stadium i had as a kid ,we love our saints and loved you guys win loose or draw you and danny abranawitz were my all time favorite saints hope you are in good health thanks again anthony


  30. Jonathan Fears

    Billy Kilmer played quarteback for my father in New Orleans. Billy is a great man and a favorite player of mine out of all the players my father coached. Billy came all the way from Florida to speak at my fathers funeral in Calif. God bless Billy Kilmer, the Fears family loves him.


  31. Charles Rose

    Billy Kilmer couldn’t throw a spiral to save his soul, but by God he could lead a team on sheer guts and determination.


  32. Larry Burt

    Yes David, I recall Billy K as Old Whiskey Face, not the Old Furnace Face moniker others may have put on him. I remember him beating my Cowboys, but not the quote attributed to Landry comparing Kilmer to Staubach. It must be a matter of record but that doesn’t sound like Landry to be playing mind games, or disrespecting another team’s player. Must have been in weak moment for that otherwise fine Texas gentleman’s gentleman! In fact, when I googled OWF football player to verify it was Kilmer, this Janis article came up. One of the phrases that came up before I clicked on that link was the reference to the CBS telecast. I read and re-read the article but could NOT find it. When I scrolled thru the comments posted – I don’t usually do that- I saw your comment as the only direct ref to OWF. How bout that! GOOGLE pulled your comment up to match my search to answer my search.


  33. Rod from Texas

    I grew up watching him play for the Redskins in the 70′s. The story of him overcoming his car accident made a lasting impression on me that has lasted for life. In ’72 we lived in Warner Robins Ga. I wanted a Kilmer Jersey for Christmas, My parents had one made because in middle Ga. you couldn’t run into Academy and grab one off the shelf.
    I am still a Redskin fan today because of Billy Kilmer. I wish him well


  34. Dave Evans

    I think the last time I saw you was when your cousin Bill White and I went out one evening when you were in town. I learned that Bill passed away and was sorry to hear that. He and I were good friends. I hope all is well with you and that perhaps if you are still having the golf tournaments that I will try and get over to Ca. and play. Every once in awhile I am able to get to Ca. and try and get over to the College and see old friends. I did see Patsy and your daughter one time and she told me about Bill. Take care.


  35. SkinsVet

    I met one time when I was 9 or 10 years old in the mid-1970s at a Vienna, Virginia restaurant, and he graciously autographed the paper placemats on the tables for my brother and I (and the restaurant-owner’s son who greeted him in Redskins gear, I vividly recall)


  36. Glenn

    Loved BOTH Billy AND Sonny..I simply saw ol’ Furnace Face #17 play more due to my age and Sonny’s age/waning career. Many great memories (yes including the end zone pass to Jerry Smith hitting the AT-THE-TIME-IN-THE-WAY goal post against the Dolphins in the Super Bowl)…wow, great memories – thanks men…all of you, including Billy Kilmer.


  37. Nancy Parker

    I just came across this piece on Billy, and saw you spelled Clint’s last name wrong. It is spelled Murchison, not Markinson. Thanks!


  38. Gary

    I hope he visits the Redskins new facility in Richmond, I would like to git his authograph on my 1972 Redskins Yearbook …..Great piece and vert interesting to read,


  39. Gary Shull

    Met Billy at the Buffett Podolak Golf Tournament in Aspen
    and what a Great Guy !!!!! Down to earth,always trying to
    help others. Miss the tournament and meeting guys like Billy. as always, Gary Shull


  40. Johnny M

    Growing up in Northern VA, (very close to Sonny Jorgenson’s house in Mt. Vernon), I always loved watching Billy Klimer. He was not a graceful player by any means but his toughness and persistance was so strong that he brought out the best around him. Charlie Taylor was such a huge asset that Billy used well. I also loved the ‘Skins Defense back then too with Diron Talbert, Dave Butz,(best name ever for a “D” guy!), Chris Hanburger, Mike Bass etc.


  41. Dennis

    This guy was a local legend in the DC area. Who can forget “Toddle House Billy”.


  42. Tom Power

    I would love to meet him. I live in Southern California. Does he ever come back to So. Cal.? Would love to have him sign the UCLA USC program the year he beat them. I have several already, Dennis DUmmit, John Sciarra, Steve Bono, Rich Neuheisel, Gary Beban met me in Chicago at a Board of Directors meeting. Help anyone?


  43. Ralph Armitage

    I was a student at Azusa High School – Citrus College in the late 50′s-early 60′s, and saw Billy put up 32 points in one game at basketball. I was impressed then and followed his career. He was always a great guy and I’m glad to hear he is still involved in the Citrus College community.


  44. Jerry McCabe

    I had the privilege of playing both football/basketball with Bill at Citrus HS, he is and remains in my opinion one of the greatest athletes to ever play sports, to this day Willie is still as competitive as ever. I witnessed many times things most people would not even attempt to do both on and off an athletic field of play. We called Kilmer Wild Bill for good reason, nothing has happened to change that! Great guy and friend…



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