Stephens was a second-round NFL draft choice of the Cleveland Browns and the fifth overall selection in the AFL draft by the New York Titans. Both teams said that they wouldn’t use him as a quarterback and he never played a down in either league. The Canadian Football League (CFL) welcomed him as a quarterback, as the Montreal Alouettes offered a reported $25,000 signing bonus and a three-year contract at $30,000 per year.
After playing for the Alouettes in 1962 and 1963, he was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Argonauts in 1964. Upon leaving the CFL, Stephens tried out as a walk-on with the Minnesota Vikings. In his CFL career, he threw 22 touchdowns with 38 interceptions on 2,823 yards, while rushing for 487 yards on 88 carries and 8 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. He was also used as an occasional kicker, making 12 out of 19 extra points and 4 out of 8 field goals, with three punts for a 20-yard average. On September 20, 1964, he was involved in a near fatal accident. The car is which he was riding with Ted Dean, a Minnesota Vikings player, struck a tree in South Minneapolis. Two years after the accident Stephens signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a fullback. He was willing to play any of the back positions and continued to dream of playing as a quarterback in the NFL, but to no avail. He ended his active football career in 1968.
Thirty years after he left football, Stephens was named to the University of Minnesota All Century Team, the Star Tribune 100 All-Century Top Sports Figures (No. 30), and awarded NCAA Legends status. He was inducted into the University of Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania All Sports Hall of Fame and he was nominated for induction into the National and College Football Foundation Hall of Fame. One of his most coveted recognitions was his induction into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997. On May 17, 2011, Stephens was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame as part of the 16-member Class of 2011. He is the 22nd Gopher to be elected into the College Football Hall of Fame and the fourth from the 1960 National Championship team.
↑"Patrick Reusse – Reusse: U's Sandy Stephens was ahead of his time". Star Tribune. December 6, 2011
↑"SANDY STEPHENS CRITICAL AFTER AUTO ACCIDENT". Associated Press, The Miami News September 21, 1964
↑[Sandy Stephens, 59, Gophers quarterback]. Associated Press, June 7, 2000
↑ALL-AMERICAN SANDY STEPHENS DIES AT AGE 59 University of Minnesota Sports Information Office, June 2000. Sanford "Sandy" Stephens, a former All-American quarterback for the University of Minnesota, died Wednesday morning of a heart attack.