One of the key starters on the Baltimore Colts’ glory years roster passed away in Texas last week: defensive back Bobby Boyd.
Known for speed and a knack for finding interceptions during his nine seasons playing for the Colts, Boyd never was named to the pro football Hall of Fame – an omission considered by some one of the National Football League’s biggest snubs.
Bobby Dean Boyd died at his home in Garland, Texas on August 28 at the age of 79, leaving many old school Colts fans mourning one of the unsung stars of the team’s heyday.
“He was a tough mother______ and a lot of the reason he didn’t get into the Hall might have been that he kept to himself and never drew any attention from the press,” said one of Boyd’s admirers, Jim Considine. “If he had gone on the Dean Martin Show or something, that might’ve changed it.”
Considine was an employee and, eventually, manager of the restaurant Boyd opened in Towson, Bobby Boyd’s Hooligans. Seeing Boyd every day at work, he came to know how the former player could come off as reserved in comparison to the team’s affable, open, nationally-known quarterback, Johnny Unitas.
“He wasn’t a warm and fuzzy kind of guy,” said Considine. “Everybody loved Johnny, but Bobby was a little standoffish. Still, I know he was a good person.”
Multiple Interception Seasons
During his playing years from 1960-1968, Boyd had a knack for finding interceptions, netting 57 in total, which ranks 13th all time and second in Baltimore’s history only to the great Ed Reed.
But Boyd was the master at building multi-interception seasons, having six or more in seven of the nine seasons he played.
Those are the kind of numbers that, combined with his one championship win in 1968 and two Pro Bowl appearances, would have guaranteed him a Hall of Fame spot in today’s football landscape. But the style of play in the league has changed dramatically since Boyd’s era, when interceptions were much more common.
“He was a tough mother______ and a lot of the reason he didn’t get into the Hall might have been that he kept to himself and never drew any attention from the press.”
“Back then, it was a lot easier to get interceptions because the forward pass wasn’t as popular and quarterbacks weren’t good at it,” Considine said. “A modern NFL coach would have a fit if a quarterback threw two interceptions a game, but that was pretty standard.”
Boyd was also, his former co-worker recalled, a highly skilled athlete, “extremely smart and also very fast.”
Return to Texas
But Boyd understood how his career was somewhat shadowed by the legendary cast of characters surrounding him. In addition to Unitas, there was receiver Raymond Berry and the defense’s legendary Gino Marchetti.
Reflecting on his career , Boyd once said he wondered if playing a few more seasons would’ve bumped his playing legacy to a higher level.
“It’s always easy to second guess,” Boyd said to the Oklahoman in 2005. “I kick myself in the rear end sometimes. But jobs just don’t open up every year. I was torn. I wanted to coach.”
After retiring as a player in 1969, Boyd joined the Colts’ coaching staff for five years. He was on staff when the team won the Super Bowl in 1970.
He also spent some time post-football working with Unitas in Baltimore’s restaurant business, before retiring and moving back to Garland in 1986.
The father of three, Boyd left eight grandchildren in addition to his sons and his wife, Wanda Boyd.