Born on this Day: Rice Legend Tobin Rote

Rote as a Rice Owl

Rote as a Rice Owl

Born on this day, January 18, back in 1928, was Rice Hall of Famer and NFL great Tobin Rote. Never heard of Tobin Rote, let us educate you a bit. A San Antonio Harlandale product, Rote led the Indians to back to back regional championships alongside scatback Virgil Tope. "Rote to Tope" became a common calling card of Harlandale in the mid 40s. 

Rote played for legendary Rice coach Jess Neely and was part of Nealy's 1949 SWC championship team that ended the season 10-1 and undefeated in the SWC. That Rice team would maneuver its way through three Top 10 teams (SMU, Texas, and Baylor) en route to the Cotton Bowl.

Rice defeated SMU and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker, after trailing 14-0. The Owls came back and beat the Mustangs 41-27. The cardiac Owls weren't done as Rice would overcome a 15-0 deficit and Rote would lead a comeback against the Longhorns in Austin. Rote led the Owls to just their 3rd outright conference title in that 49 season. At the Cotton Bowl the Owls would beat a very good North Carolina team. 

Rote went on to an incredibly productive NFL/AFL/AFL career with the Lions, Packers, Chargers, Broncos, and yes, Toronto Argonauts.  Rote won an NFL title with the Detroit Lions. With the Chargers, under the guidance of Sid Gillman, Rote led San Diego to an AFL Championship.  

In 1956 Rote set a league record for touchdowns with 29 and led the league in passing yards, completions, and attempts. His eleven rushing touchdowns were good enough for 2nd in the league. All other Packers combined scored just five touchdowns. After a trade to Detroit, Rote split time a quarterback with former Texas great Bobby Lane. After Lane broke his ankle in the eleventh game of the season, Rote led the Lions to the 1957 NFL title. On their way to the '57 title the Lions played the San Francisco 49ers, who got out to a 24-6 halftime lead. Rote and his teammates stewed at halftime as they listened to the 49ers celebrate in the adjacent locker room. Rote led another epic comeback in the second half and the Lions went on to a 31-27 win. A week later they beat Cleveland 59-14 for the championship. 

After his release by the Lions in 1959, Rote headed to Canada and put together only the second 4,000 season in CFL history for the Argonauts. With three seasons under his belt in Canada, Rote once again changed leagues, this time to the AFL and the San Diego Chargers. 

At age 35 Rote's Chargers won the 1963 AFL title over the Boston Patriots. He was named first team All-AFL and Player of the Year. He led the Chargers to a second AFL title game in 1964, only to lose to the Buffalo Bills. Rote called it a career after the '64 season, though he did return briefly in '66 for the Denver Broncos. 

Rote as a Charger.

Rote as a Charger.

  • Rote was the only quarterback to lead his team to both an NFL and AFL championship.
  • At the time he retired, Rote had more rushing yards than any quarterback in NFL history. He currently ranks seventh all-time.
  • Rote's 21.0 yards/game rushing average is seventh all-time among quarterbacks with at least 2,000 career passes.
  • Rote became the second CFL quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards or more in 1960. 
  • Rote's 37 (NFL/AFL) career rushing touchdowns ranks sixth all-time among quarterbacks.
  • Rote is one of two quarterbacks to lead his team in rushing four times.
  • Rote ended his career with 28,772 passing yards and 214 touchdowns. 
  • Led the NFL in rushing yards by a quarterback six times (1951, 1954–58)
  • Led the NFL in passing yards once (1956)
  • Led the NFL in passing touchdowns twice (1955 and 1956)

Rote passed away in 2000 at the age of 72. Happy birthday to a great Owl!

More Rice Owls Stuff - 

Posted on January 18, 2017 and filed under Rice, Southwest Round-Up.