Ken Konz

Samuel Reeves Keesler Air Force Base
(Game Worn)

Weimar, Texas was, and remains a small town in Southeastern Texas, best known perhaps for Kasper’s Meat Market that has a national reputation for producing delicious sausage products, and for being the birthplace and hometown of football great Ken Konz. The German and Czech settlers of the region founded the town on a bedrock of hard work, and unfortunate circumstances introduced young Kenneth Earl Konz to very hard work early in his life. Fatherless by the age of four, Ken arose each morning before the start of elementary school classes to deliver newspapers and ended his day by sweeping out a local bank after its closing. Despite his involvement with athletics, at the age of fourteen he was working as a ranch hand and at sixteen took on the added responsibilities of picking cotton. In rural Weimar, the school consisted of a one room school house that provided education for all grades, kindergarten through twelfth. The limited population of the town and small student enrollment placed the Weimar Wildcats into the six man football classification and Konz, outstanding on the field, did not see a regulation eleven man game until he arrived at LSU. A star in Baton Rouge, the two-way halfback could do everything extremely well. The All SEC performer was on the field for an average of 46.6 minutes every game of his senior season and an LSU assistant coach stated, “He did all our kicking, he was the finest safety man I have ever seen in this section, he was a very good blocker, a splendid runner, and a fine receiver, and he was never injured in any way. He was rugged.”

Konz was the apple of Cleveland Browns’ head coach Paul Brown’s eye and the number one draft choice in 1951. However, before starting his pro football career, the path was derailed by the Korean War and Konz served in the conflict as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. While stationed at Mississippi's Samuel Reeves Keesler Air Force Base in 1951, Konz was a cherished recruit for the Base football team as it was located but eighty-three miles east of New Orleans where Konz was a favorite as a former LSU Tiger star. With the Browns from 1953 through the 1959 season, Konz was a stalwart at safety and a member of a very underrated defensive crew. The offensive stars that the Browns boasted included Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli,  Dub Jones, Jim Brown, and Lou Groza and the defense was usually under appreciated. Yet the defense of Konz’s day was among the best in the NFL and the team won the 1954 and ’55 NFL Championship and played in two other title games. Konz made an immediate impact as a rookie in ’53, intercepting five passes and became the leader of an exceptional secondary. A Pro Bowl selection in 1954, he was also an effective punt returner, leading the league in 1956 with a gaudy 14.4 yards-per-return average. By the time Konz retired, he had posted thirty interceptions and was recognized as one of the great defenders of the Browns championship era.