The Atlanta Falcons Attempted To Draft John Wayne in 1972

Published on March 17th, 2022 7:49 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

John Wayne was a joke NFL draft selection in 1972. The NFL draft used to be excruciatingly long - much longer, in fact, than the current NFL draft.

In 1972, the NFL draft consisted of 17 rounds, which meant that over 440 players had to be drafted.

The first few rounds were easy, of course, but once you got into the later rounds, the pickings were very slim.

So slim, in fact, that the Atlanta Falcons thought that they would have some fun once they got to the 17th round.

When it came time to make their selection, Falcons coach Norm Van Brocklin proclaimed that the team wanted the "roughest, toughest SOB in the draft", and that their pick was "John Wayne of Fort Apache State".


Although John Wayne had, in fact, played football (USC before breaking his collarbone in a bodysurfing accident), there were a few problems with the selection:

1. John Wayne was in his mid-60s at the time of the selection

2. John Wayne was a Hollywood star


The selection of John Wayne was meant as a joke, but Commissioner Pete Rozelle wasn't laughing.

Rozelle would ultimately reject the selection, which meant that John Wayne's selection was wiped off the books.


In this day and age, the NFL draft consists of just 7 rounds, which means that there isn't room for any joke selections.

Related Articles