1962 Daryle Lamonica
The quarterback tradition at Notre Dame was long and hallowed. The names were legendary in college football, solidified the Irish tradition for excellence, and included greats like Angelo Bertelli, Johnny Lujack, Ralph Gugliemi, and Paul Hornung. After what all Notre Dame fans considered to be a disastrous 5-5 season under new head coach Joe Kuharich in 1959, they were optimistic that a changing of the guard at quarterback, despite a lack of experience, would lead to greater success in 1960. George Haffner led an opening day victory over Cal but this was quickly followed by a deluge of mistakes in a crushing 51-19 loss to Purdue and a winless slate until the finale against USC. By the time the unthinkable 2-8 season was over, Haffner had shared the quarterback spot with fellow sophomore Daryle Lamonica and both had received their share of blame for the ’60 season. Lamonica was a four-sport star at Clovis High School and the California All State quarterback. He chose a football career at Notre Dame over one in baseball with the Chicago Cubs but after the Irish put up but 111 points during the 1960 season, the entire team felt the heat.
The Irish squad improved
to 5-5 as Lamonica shared the starting spot with Frank Budka but neither
quarterback lit up the statistical columns, Daryle completing but
thirty-eight percent of his passes and Budka forty-two. At this point in his
career, Lamonica was viewed as Notre Dame’s “running quarterback” and Budka
the passer. As a senior in 1962, the Irish again posted a 5-5 record as
Lamonica finally blossomed as the full time starter. He hit his stride in
the East West Shrine Game with a twenty-for-twenty-eight game which earned
him the MVP award but as the AFL Buffalo Bills’ twenty-fourth round draft
choice and the twelfth rounder of the NFL Packers, he was lost among the
bigger names of the day.
Lamonica’s collegiate career and one year of stardom could not have predicted his pro success. He began as Jack Kemp’s back-up and gained some respect throughout the league as the Bills defeated the Chargers for the AFL’s Championship in 1964 and '65. His break came when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders prior to the 1967 season and he threw for 3228 yards and began to earn his reputation as “The Mad Bomber.” The Raiders’ long range passing attack was perfect for Lamonica who had the arm to throw seventy yards downfield with accuracy. While his thirty touchdown passes were an eye-opener, he surpassed that in ’69 with thirty-four as the Raiders continued their excellent play and Lamonica was named the AFL MVP in both seasons. Three consecutive Division titles and the 1968 AFL Championship that earned the team the right to face-off against the Packers in Super Bowl II were certainly career highlights as were his three selections as an AFL All Star. Lamonica more than proved that some of the ire directed his way while at Notre Dame was less a reflection of his individual ability than it was that of the entire Irish program. Leaving the NFL after the ’74 season with a total passing yardage mark of 19,154 yards on 1288 completions made him an all time Raider favorite, especially with a winning percentage over .800 in games he started. He spent the 1975 season leading the World Football League Southern California Sun before retiring to television work and other ventures. One cherished honor was having the Clovis High School football stadium named in his honor.
If interested in viewing Lamonica's other helmets, please click on picture for more information.