John Gilliam

Wide receiver, American football player

1945 –


Who is John Gilliam?

John Rally Gilliam is a former American football wide receiver.

Gilliam was a receiver out of South Carolina State University, and was drafted in the second round by the expansion New Orleans Saints. He played his first two seasons in New Orleans, and then had stints with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1969 to 1971, the Minnesota Vikings from 1972 to 1975, the Atlanta Falcons in 1976, and brief stints with the Chicago Bears and back in New Orleans for 1977. Gilliam played in 2 Super Bowls with the Vikings, Super Bowl VIII and Super Bowl IX. He was elected to the Pro Bowl all four years while he was with Minnesota.

In 1972, Gilliam led the NFL in yards per catch and finished 2nd in receiving yards and receiving yards per game. In 1973, he again finished 2nd in receiving yards and receiving yards per game and was named 1st Team All-Pro by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and 2nd Team All-Pro by the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association. He was also named 1st Team All-NFC by The Sporting News and UPI in 1973.

He is famous for returning the opening kickoff 94 yards in the Saints' inaugural game in 1967 against the Los Angeles Rams for their first touchdown in franchise history. In Super Bowl VIII, Gilliam returned the second half kickoff 65 yards to the Miami 34, but a clipping penalty wiped out almost all the yardage. One play in Super Bowl IX also resulted in Gilliam colliding with then-NFL Films cameraman Steve Sabol.

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Aug 7, 1945
  • United States of America
  • South Carolina State University
Lived in
  • South Carolina
  • Greenwood

on July 23, 2013


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