Billy Cannon Jr.

Billy Cannon Jr.
No. 52
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1961-10-08) October 8, 1961
Place of birth: Baton Rouge, LA
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 231 lb (105 kg)
Career information
High school: Broadmoor (LA)
College: Texas A&M
NFL Draft: 1984 / Round: 1 / Pick: 25
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 8
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

William Abb Cannon Jr. (born October 8, 1962) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Texas A&M University.

Early years

Cannon attended Broadmoor High School where he lettered in four sports. In baseball he played shortstop and was an All-State and an All-American selection. In football he played quarterback, running back, safety, special teams and even kicked a few times. In his senior year he received All-State and All-American honors, while helping his team to an undefeated regular season.

On Halloween night in 1979, he returned a punt against Istrouma (his father's alma mater) 89 yards for a touchdown and a 20–18 win, exactly 20 years after his father had his famous 89 yard punt return for Louisiana State University to beat Ole Miss 7–3.[1]

As an 18-year-old senior with ability and a marquee name, he was a probable first-round draft choice in the 1980 Major League Baseball Draft as a shortstop/outfielder. His father had previously sent telegrams to all major league teams advising not to invest a draft selection on his son, because he was going to attend college.[2] After the New York Yankees drafted him in the third round, teams filed grievances citing that they were misled by the telegrams, while there were secret meetings with the Yankees to negotiate a contract agreement. Then baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed the contract, forfeited the Yankees draft pick and called for a special draft to be held for his rights.[3] The Cleveland Indians selected Cannon in the special draft.[4]

After the Yankees selection was voided, he committed to Texas A&M University to the dismay of LSU fans.[5] He started his college career as a flanker and led the team in punt returns. As a sophomore, he was moved to strong safety and also had a publicized incident, after he knocked an A&M cadet to the ground, when he threatened an SMU cheerleader with his sabre.

In those first years his impact was mainly on special teams, until he was switched to outside linebacker as a senior, but even then as a key member of the defense, he still returned kicks and punts. He also practiced baseball.

Professional career

Cannon was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round (25th overall) of the 1984 NFL draft. It was reported that the Washington Redskins also had him as their desired selection in the round. The Cannons are part of a group of eighteen families, that have had more than one of their members drafted in the first round of the NFL draft (Manning, Budde, Winslow, Matthews, Ingram, DeLong, Jones, McDougle, Brock, Browner, Olsen, Rogers, Seymour, Smith, Van Buren, Upshaw and Long).

Eight games into his rookie season, he was a reserve right outside linebacker alternating with Anthony Dickerson, when an existing congenital spinal condition was complicated after he tackled New Orleans Saints running back Wayne Wilson. He was knocked unconscious, suffered damage to two vertebrae near his neck and experienced a brief paralysis of his arms and legs. He never started and appeared in just eight games before this injury forced him to retire in order to avoid risking paralysis.[6][7]

Personal life

Cannon filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit claiming negligence by the Cowboys, after he informed them of experiencing numbness in his upper body when making tackles. The team denied ever receiving such claims but settled in 1992.[8]

His father, Billy Cannon, was a Heisman Trophy winner who played in the American Football League.


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