Bill Yearby
Date of birth: (1944-07-24)July 24, 1944
Place of birth: Birmingham, Alabama
Date of death: December 20, 2010(2010-12-20) (aged 66)
Career information
Position(s): DE
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
College: Michigan
AFL Draft: 1966 / Round: 1
 As player:
1966 New York Jets
Career highlights and awards
Honors: All-America (2x)
Playing stats at

William M. Yearby (July 24, 1944 – December 20, 2010) was an American football defensive lineman who played for the New York Jets of the American Football League in 1966. He was also an All-American defensive tackle for the University of Michigan Wolverines football team from 1963 to 1965.


File:Bill Yearby (track).png

Yearby attended Detroit's Eastern High School, where he was the Class A state champion in the shot put in 1962.[1] He was an All-American football player at the University of Michigan in both 1964 and 1965 and was named the Wolverines' Most Valuable Player in 1965.[2][3] Bump Elliott's 1964 team won the Big Ten Conference and played in the Rose Bowl.[4]

Yearby was known for his "fierce play" at defensive tackle. Once, after an early hit by an offsides Northwestern offensive lineman, Yearby exploded on the opposing player. The referee had to step in and calm things down.[5]

Professional careerEdit

Yearby was selected in the first round of the 1966 AFL Draft by the New York Jets. This was at a time when the American Football League and National Football League were warring over top talent, and the Jets had drafted Matt Snell and Joe Namath in the first round in the prior years.[6] On December 3, 1965, a Time magazine article about the NFL draft said the following about Yearby: "Bill Yearby, 21, Michigan, 6 ft. 3 in., 230 lbs. . . . Yearby is 'a vicious tackier, always on target, always gets his man—and not 5 yds. downfield, like most college kids.'"[7] The following week, Time noted that "Jets Owner Sonny Werblin signed Michigan's 230-lb. Tackle Bill Yearby to a contract at $1,000 per pound."[8] Yearby played only one season, 1966, for the Jets. The Jets' web site notes that Yearby "missed valuable training camp practice because of All-Star game and injury suffered in pre-season game," and that coaches at Michigan said he was "extremely quick" and could have been a starter on the Michigan basketball team.[9]

A terrific athlete, Yearby was projected to play tight end for the Jets. In 1966, a bad knee limited him to spot appearances as a fill-in defensive end and special-teamer. In 1967, Yearby's knee was still not right, and he was farmed out to the Bridgeport Knights of the Atlantic Coast Conference, who were the Jets' minor league affiliate. While playing linebacker for the Knights, Yearby hurt his knee again, and his pro football career was over.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. Moyes, Jim and Bill Khan. "Boys Track and Field Individual Champions -- 1960-1969". Michigan High School Athletic Association. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  2. "University of Michigan Football All-American: William Yearby". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  3. "1965 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  4. "Michigan's Bowl History". University of Michigan & Host Interactive. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  5. Jim Brandstatter (2005). Tales from Michigan Stadium. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-59670-015-7.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "More Mailbag". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc.. 2006-08-25. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  7. "Pick of the Pros (2 of 3)". Time. Time Inc. 1965-12-03.,9171,842273-2,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  8. "The Bonus Battle". Time. Time Inc. 1965-12-10.,9171,898426,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  9. "Bill Yearby - #88 - DT-DE - Michigan - Profile". New York Jets. Retrieved 2007-11-27.[dead link]

External linksEdit

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