Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BILLY CANNON THE TOAST OF LSU
There are certain things you don’t forget. Where you were on 9/11, or when President John Kennedy was shot. Down here in the Bayou State, add to those special dates Halloween night 54 years ago when Billy Cannon made football history with his 87 yard run to beat Ole Miss and keep the Tigers undefeated. His story is the rise and fall, than the rise again by LSU’s all time sports hero. And guess what? I played a minor role in what became Billy’s personal nightmare and fall from grace.
Even those who are not Tiger fans have to admit it was one heck of a run. Cannon either sidestepped or pushed away tackler after tackler as he weaved his way towards the end zone. I wish I had a dollar for every time the magical run has been replayed on television. You can imagine the crowd’s reaction on most Saturday football nights in Tiger Stadium as one more time the fans in the stadium and the millions on national television once again see Ole’ Billy tear through the Rebel opposition. (You can watch the run on the web at www.jimbrownusa.com).
This feat by Cannon allowed the Tigers to beat Ole’ Miss 7 to 3, and made him a legend for life. Paul Revere had his famous ride and Billy Cannon had his remarkable run. And ever since, as Halloween draws near, the airwaves are filled with replay after replay of “the run.” Some folks in Louisiana would sooner lock up the kids and throw out the candy than miss seeing Billy strut his stuff on All Hollow’s Eve.
Cannon went on to play professional football with the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders. Then he went to dental school and built a successful dental practice in Baton Rouge. Because of his popularity, Cannon’s practice flourished to an estimated $300,000 a year, quite a sum in the 1960s.
OK, so how was yours truly involved? It was 1983, and I was in my first term as Louisiana Secretary of State. I was at my office one afternoon when my secretary said there were two Treasury agents to see me, and they demanded immediate attention. (I can speak from personal experience that one should never, ever talk to a federal agent.) They pulled out a hundred dollar bill saying it was a fake, and that it had shown up in the Secretary of State’s bank account. Continue Reading……..