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Passings / Sherrill Headrick

Aggressive linebacker

September 11, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Sherrill Headrick, 71, a former Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, died Wednesday, the Chiefs announced. The Kansas City Star reported on its website that Headrick died of cancer.

Nicknamed "Psycho" by his teammates for his aggressive play and personality, Headrick played eight seasons (1960-67) for the Texans/Chiefs franchise in the old American Football League before it merged with the NFL. He was selected to five all-AFL squads and started at middle linebacker during the team's AFL title wins in 1962 and 1966, as well as the first Super Bowl.

He spent his final season with the Cincinnati Bengals after the 1968 AFL expansion draft and finished his career with 15 interceptions. He was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1993.

At 6 feet 2 and a shade over 200 pounds, Headrick was small for his position but known for his ability to play through pain and injuries. In his rookie season he collided with a teammate during pregame warmups and, although his neck ached, he played anyway. Two days later doctors discovered he had a cracked vertebra.

"That's why they called him Psycho," former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson said years later. "Who would play with a broken neck?"

In recent years he was wracked by debilitating arthritis.

Sherrill Darlon Headrick was born March 13, 1937, in Waco, Texas, and was a star at Texas Christian University. He left TCU after three years and played one season of pro ball in Canada before signing with the Chiefs as a free agent.

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