Hoosier Legacy Player: Earl Faison (1958-1960)

 Indiana defensive end Earl Faison circa 1958  Image: IU Archives

Indiana defensive end Earl Faison circa 1958 Image: IU Archives

Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

Finals week is nearly over for students and it just won’t stop raining in Indianapolis so welcome back to our Hoosier Legacy Series. Today we look one of the best defensive line players to take the field for IU, Earl Faison.

Born in Newport News, Virginia in 1939 Faison would grow into a 6-foot-5 man who would become one of the best players in Indiana Football history. He played three seasons for the Hoosiers (1958-60) and played both sides of the ball. He led the Hoosiers in receiving in both 1958 (six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown) and 1960 (seven catches for 154 yards and two scores). During his senior year in 1960, Faison earn third-team All-American honors and All-Big Ten honors. In his three seasons with the Hoosiers they went 10-15-1. One of those victories was a 6-0 win over Michigan State in 1958 where Faison blocked a field goal and ran it back 92 yards for the game’s only score securing the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time in IU history. He is immortalized in the IU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Mark Deal, IU’s Assistant Athletic Director in charge of Alumni Relations called Faison “Terrific, I mean an unbelievable defensive end,” and added that he “was a man among boys,” on the college football field.

Faison had a terrific pro career as well. He was drafted in both the NFL (5th Round 66th Overall pick to the Lions) and AFL drafts (1st Round 7th Overall pick to the Chargers), and decided to go play in San Diego with the Chargers. He had a great run in San Diego before being released and finishing his career with the Miami Dolphins. In his six pro football seasons Faison was a AFL Rookie of the Year in 1961, a five-time AFL All-Star and TSN All-AFL team member. His play earned him a spot on the San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team, a place in the Chargers Ring of Honor.

After his football career ended Faison tried his hand at acting, appearing in two episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies before he settled into a career in education. Faison eventually became the vice principal of Lincoln High School in San Diego and later coached and taught physical education at Muirlands Junior High School in La Jolla, California. Sadly, Earl Faison passed away at the age of 77 in Prescott, Arizona on June 12, 2016.  San Diego Chargers’ Chairman had this to say in a San Diego Union Tribune Article about Faison upon learning of Faison’s death, “I had the privilege of getting to know Earl through the years. He was a consummate gentleman with a booming voice and laugh. His passion for the Chargers and the game of football was unwavering.”