Pro Football Bookenders
An interesting occurance in pro football is when a player starts and ends his career with the same team, but plays somewhere else in the middle. We’re not talking about times when players like Emmitt Smith sign a one day contract with the Cowboys so they can retire with their old team, we’re talking about players on the actual roster. This has even happened to some Hall-of-Fame type players and it’s a good source of trivia about a favorite player or favorite team.
A few examples of Hall-of-Fame Bookenders are:
Dave Casper, Tight End, Oakland Raiders
While he started and ended his career as a Raider, Casper spent 1981-83 with the Oilers and Vikings before coming home to play 1984 with the Raiders.
Larry Csonka, Running Back, Miami Dolphins
Csonka left the Miami Dolphins to join the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League in 1975. The WFL folded shortly thereafter and Csonka came back to play three seasons with the New York Giants before returning for one final year (1979) with the Dolphins.
Joe DeLamielleure, Offensive Line, Buffalo Bills
DeLamielleure played the first seven seasons of his career with the Bills, then played 1980 through 1984 with the Cleveland Browns, for the 1985 season he came back to Buffalo where it had all began.
Fran Tarkenton, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
When Fran Tarkenton retired, most of the career passing records belonged to him. Tarkenton had starred with the Vikings from 1961 through 1966, and then in 1967 had been traded away to the New York Giants. Before the 1972 season began, the Vikings must’ve had second thoughts as they traded for him this time and he played in Minnesota until he retired in 1978.
Paul Warfield, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns/Miami Dolphins
Paul Warfield began his Hall-of-Fame career in Cleveland and stayed there 1964 through 1969 before becoming a member of the Miami Dolphins in 1970. Warfield would become an integral part of the great early 1970s Miami Dolphins teams before departing, along with fellow Dolphin players Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka, to the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League. Once the WFL folded, Warfield came back to play two final years (1976 and 1977) with the Cleveland Browns where his career had all started.
Many non-Hall-of-Fame players have performed this feat in their career as well and it makes for an interesting bit of trivia if you know where these bookenders spent the middle part of their careers.