David Michael Stratton (April 10, 1941 – March 25, 2020) was an American professional football
player who was a linebacker
for 12 seasons in the American Football League
(AFL) and National Football League
(NFL). He won two AFL championship
s with the Buffalo Bills
, where he was a six-time AFL All-Star
. He was named to the AFL All-Time Second Team
Stratton played college football
for the Tennessee Volunteers
. He played professionally for 11 years with the Bills and spent his final season with the San Diego Chargers
Stratton attended Tellico Plains High in Tellico Plains, Tennessee
, a hamlet
in the Great Smoky Mountains
[ Football players there did not attract college recruiters, and Tellico Plains athletes rarely went to college. Stratton played tackle, fullback and wingback.] [
Stratton received a scholarship from Volunteers coach Bowden Wyatt to play at the University of Tennessee.] [ He was a two-way player with Tennessee, playing tight end on offense and defensive end on defense.
Drafted out of college by the Buffalo Bills in the 13th round of the 1962 AFL draft, Stratton was selected as an AFL All-Star six straight seasons from 1963 through 1968.
Bills coach Lou Saban teamed him with Harry Jacobs and John Tracey to form one of the best linebacking crews, playing together for 62 consecutive games from 1963 through 1967, a pro football record. They helped the Bills defense hold opposing teams without a 100-yard rusher for seventeen consecutive games in 1964 and 1965, capturing AFL championships in both years.
In the 1964 AFL Championship Game against the San Diego Chargers, Stratton made the memorable "hit heard 'round the world". San Diego's Keith Lincoln had a 38-yard run on the game's opening play. The Chargers were leading 7–0 when Stratton drove his shoulder into Lincoln's midsection, breaking the star running back's ribs and knocking him out of the game. [ The Bills shut out San Diego for the rest of the game, and won 20–7.] [ In the closing minutes of the first half with Buffalo leading 13–7, the Chargers drove to the Bills' 15, but Stratton intercepted a Tobin Rote pass to end the threat. Rote and San Diego coach Sid Gillman called the turnover a decisive play.
Stratton played 11 seasons for the Bills before ending his career with the Chargers in 1973. He finished his career with 21 interceptions—18 with the Bills and 3 with the Chargers.] [ He was selected to the AFL All-Time Second Team.]
After football, Stratton became an executive with insurance company Crump Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.
On March 25, 2020, Stratton died at age 78 from heart complications after a recent fall.
* List of American Football League players
Category:American football linebackers
Category:Buffalo Bills players
Category:San Diego Chargers players
Category:Tennessee Volunteers football players
Category:American Football League All-Time Team
Category:American Football League All-Star players
Category:People from Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Category:Players of American football from Tennessee
Category:American Football League players