One of the pluses which has kept the Oilers ahead of the competition is a big and capable taxi squad—a squad of players on the payroll who taxi out to practice but are not carried on the active list. Owner Bud Adams has never quibbled about the extra expense of the taxi squad and it has paid off in a continuous flow of AFL-caliber players to replace the inevitably injured.
Another plus is George Blanda, the old Bear quarterback, who guides the destinies of his young teammates surely and with unruffled calm in the face of the wild, unpredictable swings of fortune which characterize AFL games. Blanda was a barely adequate passer in the NFL, where his targets were usually covered so tightly that an error of a yard or two meant an interception; here he is tied for first in the league, throwing to relatively lonely targets. Fred Wallner, the old Cardinal guard, is a playing coach for this team and stabilizes the Oiler line much as Blanda does the backfield. The other day, after the long practice under the bright Houston sun, the balding Wallner was asked the big difference in line play in the new league and the old.
"Experience," he said quickly. "You don't see any big, cute ones in this league."
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]