NFL star dead at age of 73; Pro Bowler spent 11 years in league

Ken Burrough, a star wideout for the NFL’s Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, died Thursday, NBC Sports reported. 

His family said the 73-year-old died at home in Jacksonville, Florida.

No cause of death was given.

Burrough, a first-team All-American at Texas Southern University, was drafted in the first round by the New Orleans Saints with the 10th pick in 1970.

He was traded to the Oilers — now the Tennessee Titans — in 1971 and spent 11 seasons with the team.

He made the Pro Bowl twice, in 1975 and 1977.

His ’75 season was the high-water mark for Burrough, who caught 53 passes for 1,063 yards.

Burrough totaled 408 catches for 6,906 yards and 47 touchdowns with the Oilers between 1971 and 1981, still the third-most in franchise history in both catches and receiving touchdowns.

At his peak, football author Danny Jones wrote, Burrogh was “one of the most dangerous game breakers in the NFL along with [Raiders receiver] Cliff Branch, [Cardinals receiver] Mel Gray, and [Bills running back] O. J. Simpson.”

“Ken was perhaps the NFL’s greatest deep threat,” he noted, adding that he was the top target for quarterback Dan Pastorini.

Burrough was also a key member of the “Luv Ya’ Blue” Oilers under head coach Bum Phillips — arguably the franchise’s most successful period.

Phillips’ teams went to the playoffs in three straight seasons between 1978 and 1980.

Twice, in 1978 and 1979, they advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Both times, however, they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers during that franchise’s dynastic “Steel Curtain” era.

In addition to his two Pro Bowls and All-American selection, Burrough is a member of the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He also holds a unique place in NFL history.

“In addition to his place on that leaderboard, Burrough also holds the distinction of being the final NFL player to wear ’00’ as a jersey number,” NBC Sports reported.

“The NFL barred players from choosing it in 1973, but Burrough and former Raiders center Jim Otto were allowed to keep wearing it through the remainder of their careers.”