File:Billy Kilmer.jpg
Billy Kilmer
No. 17
Personal information
Date of birth: September 5, 1939 (1939-09-05) (age 71)
Place of birth: Topeka, Kansas
High School: Citrus High School
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) Weight: 204 lb (93 kg)
Career information
College: UCLA
NFL Draft: 1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
AFL Draft: 1961 / Round: 5 / Pick: 39(By the San Diego Chargers)
Debuted in 1961 for the San Francisco 49ers
Last played in 1978 for the Washington Redskins
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 1978
Pass attempts 2,984
Pass completions 1,585
Percentage 53.1
TD-INT 152-146
Passing Yards 20,495
QB Rating 71.6
Stats at
Stats at
Stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

William Orland "Bill" Kilmer, Jr. (born September 5, 1939 in Topeka, Kansas) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins. He played college football for the UCLA Bruins.

Early lifeEdit

A native of Azusa, California, Kilmer played baseball, football and basketball during his athletic career at Citrus High School in California, scoring more than 1,500 points in the latter sport while earning All-American honors. His baseball exploits saw him win All-Conference accolades, while the poor fortunes of his football squad saw him relegated to Third Team All-Conference recognition.

College careerEdit

Kilmer then competed in football for one year at Citrus Junior College where he scored six touchdowns and threw for 15 more, with a broken foot limiting his playing time for the Citrus basketball team. He then went on to play three seasons at UCLA, closing out his career with an outstanding season in 1960 that helped him finish fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. During that stellar campaign, he threw for over 1,000 yards, ran for over 800, scored eight touchdowns and served as the team's punter. Kilmer was also awarded the 1960 W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast.

After the conclusion of a UCLA career that saw him finish among the top five in school history for passing and rushing yards, as well as total offense, Kilmer played in the 1961 College All-Star Game, where he earned Most Valuable Player honors.

Professional careerEdit

San Francisco 49ersEdit

Kilmer was drafted in the first round (eleventh overall) of the 1961 NFL Draft by the 49ers. He was also selected in the fifth round of the 1961 AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, but signed with San Francisco on December 30, 1960. During that rookie season, he saw action primarily at running back, rushing for 509 yards and ten touchdowns, with his top performance coming against the expansion Minnesota Vikings on October 15 when he rushed for four touchdowns.

The following year, Kilmer's season came to an early end following a December 5 auto accident in which he fell asleep in his 1957 Chevrolet and drove off the Bayshore Freeway into the San Francisco Bay. Suffering a fractured leg, Kilmer's injury was bad enough to also force him to sit out the entire 1963 NFL season. He was able to return the following year, but his production was limited. After he saw no action in 1965 and was involved in a training camp contract dispute the next season, he was placed in the 1967 NFL Expansion Draft.

New Orleans SaintsEdit

On February 10, 1967, Kilmer was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and despite originally being thought of as the team's third-best signal caller, became the team's starting quarterback for much of the next four seasons, although he shared time with Edd Hargett during his final two seasons. His most prolific performance during his four-year stint with the team came on November 2, 1969, when he threw for 345 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-42 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Frustrated after four years of the Saints' futility and sensing New Orleans would draft Ole Miss star Archie Manning with the second overall pick of the 1971 NFL Draft, Kilmer asked to be traded and was granted his wish on January 23, 1971, when he was traded to the Washington Redskins for linebacker Tom Roussel and two draft selections.

Washington RedskinsEdit

As the first trade during the George Allen era in Washington, Kilmer was destined for a reserve role behind future Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen.

That status changed on September 4 when Jurgensen suffered a severe shoulder injury against the Miami Dolphins. Kilmer then led the resurgent Redskins to a 5-0 start, but a midseason slump cost them the opportunity to win the National Football Conference Eastern Division. Kilmer briefly lost his starting job as a result of the slide, but regained it after Jurgensen again injured his shoulder. Fans in Washington tended to be loyal to one quarterback or the other, sporting buttons at games that read "I like Billy" or "I like Sonny." Kilmer did not throw the tight spiral that Jurgensen did, but his wobbly passes often got the job done.

One year later, Kilmer led the Redskins to an NFC-best 11-3 record, while also leading the NFL in touchdown passes (19) and passer rating (84.8). After the season, Washington advanced to their first Super Bowl, which they lost, 14-7, to the unbeaten Miami Dolphins. The loss didn't dampen Kilmer's individual recognition as he was named to the Pro Bowl and the All-NFC Team.

That success would endear Kilmer to Allen, who remained loyal to the signal caller, despite determined challenges from Jurgensen and former University of Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann. Kilmer remained with the Redskins until 1978, serving as a backup to Theismann during that final year. Kilmer's demotion could undoubtedly be due to the dismissal of Allen at the conclusion of the previous season.

During his time with the Redskins, Kilmer became one of the few remaining users of a single-bar face mask on the helmet, as multi-bar face masks became the norm in the NFL. Theismann also wore the single-bar throughout his career.

Kilmer finished his 16-year NFL career with 1,585 of 2,984 completions for 20,495 yards and 154 touchdowns, with 146 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,509 yards and 21 touchdowns, caught 27 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown, and punted the ball 16 times for 598 yards.

Post-playing careerEdit

Following his retirement, Kilmer stayed on the fringes while working for a gambling service that made selections on NFL games, but has since stayed out of the spotlight. He occasionally makes appearances in Mobile, Alabama in support of the GMAC Bowl.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.