The Soul Of The Game: Pat Fischer

Pat Fisher played cornerback for 17 NFL seasons.

Pat Fisher played cornerback for 17 NFL seasons.

In the long history of the NFL there have been players who defined their positions because of their physicality. Men like Dick Butkus, Dick “Night Train” Lane, and Lawrence Taylor were freaks at their position. They were bigger than what other teams were geared to deal with normally. Yet there are those that stand out as hitters first although their size would suggest something different. Enter Pat Fischer.

Standing only 5’9, and 170 lbs (that can’t be right) Smith played in an era where the NFL was a running league. Unlike today’s game where he could play out in space chasing an X, Z, or slot receiver, Fischer had to come up and tackle in an era where everyone was emulating Green Bay’s power sweep. He had to take on pulling guards,  some fullbacks along with his coverage responsibilities. Yet he only missed 10 games in his first 16 years.

His physical play belied his diminutive size as he played as a pint sized intimidator. Lionel “Train” James loves to say “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Never was this more true than of Pat Fisher. Even in the Super Bowl VII highlight, NFL Films had John Facenda narrate how much a nemesis he was against the run and the pass. Let’s face it, a cornerback his size now is primarily a special team guy who is platooned only against multiple receiver sets. They rarely tackle players other than small slot receivers. Take a look at how Fisher played…

In the NFL of the 1960’s there was a concentration of talent that stayed with the same teams and systems for many years. Fischer was caught in this vice where Hall of Fame cornerbacks Dick “Night Train” Lane, Herb Adderley, Jimmy Johnson, and Lem Barney were playing. He was an overlooked player for awhile and some of it could have been other players not leaving behind on-field animosity when voting for fellow players.

There has to be some truth to it or Fischer wouldn’t have had one of his 3 Pro Bowl seasons in 1969 when he had just 2 interceptions. Now his first, in 1964, where he picked off 10 returning them for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns couldn’t be ignored. That was 1 TD short of the all time record. Yet other years he was overshadowed by these other players.


Pat Fischer played well into the 70’s and here he is going against Mel Gray in the mid ’70s.

One could also make the argument Fischer’s 1969 Pro Bowl and All Pro season came because of the higher visibility Vince Lombardi brought to the team in his only year coaching there.

Whatever the reason, Fischer played from 1961-1977 and retired having played in more games at cornerback in NFL history. If you think about that time frame, he came in 9 years before the AFL / NFL merger and played through the 12th Super Bowl. This is before the modern athlete could have arthroscopic surgery between seasons to prolong their careers. Does he belong in the Hall of Fame??

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16 thoughts on “The Soul Of The Game: Pat Fischer

  1. My favorite Redskins are Larry Brown on offense and Pat Fisher on Defense. I use to love watching Fischer go against Harold Carmichael of Philly. Tiny Fischer against the giant (even by NFL standards) Carmichael. They use to have epic battles and I believe Carmichael respected him a lot. I think it’s a crime that he is not in the Hall. But real football fans know what a great player he was.


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  2. Pat Fisher is someone for younger players , especially High School players, to learn how amazing a player he was at his size. I still have trouble envisioning him playing over 15 years in the NFL. A power of example.

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  3. Pingback: SUPER BOWL VII RUNNER UP 1972 WASHINGTON REDSKINS | Taylor Blitz Times

  4. Yes, indeed, Pat Fischer belongs in the Hall (as does Johnny Robinson, I agree with that as well). There are many players of similar or lesser quality in the Hall, yet he gets overlooked. The main reason his int numbers went down after the 1964 season was because QB’s got the message to not throw at him. You couldn’t throw at him consistently and you couldn’t run at him. I saw a film of him in Super Bowl VII against the dolphins. It was at the end of the game and the dolphins were trying to run out the clock and end the game. They ran a sweep to his side, and he is the only defender out there. Hall of Famer Larry Little and another lineman are heading his way with the elusive Mercury Morris following behind. He, by himself, strings out the play sheds both blockers, and throws the runner out of bounds to stop the clock! I would take him over the way over-hyped Deion Sanders any time! He was amazing!

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  5. Obviously a great player that never suffered a career ending injury in order to last that long….The Cards had good db’s….so did the Chiefs, Robinson, Grayson,
    Thomas, Hunt, in the 60’s-70’s (same time frame as Fisher) along with a string of great safeties in the 80’s along with really good corners…. Robinson/Grayson need to be considered….time has long past for them to be recognized.
    chris burford Texans/Chiefs 60-67.

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  6. He certainly is a borderline candidate for the HOF Jef, but I guess that ship has sailed.
    I mean I never realized he was almost the same size as Wes Welker (5′ 9″ 185 lbs) for goodness sake! Played with heart man!

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