Mix, Ron : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Mix, Ron

Ronald Jack Mix

Mix is considered one of the greatest linemen to ever play the game. His coach with the San Diego Chargers, Hall of Famer Sid Gillman said, "Ron Mix was one of the greats of all time...I think he's the greatest tackle who ever lived."

During his entire 12-year career, Ron was assessed only two (!) holding penalties. Mix was the first draft pick of both the NFL's Baltimore Colts, and the AFL's Boston Patriots. The Patriots traded their rights to Mix to the San Diego Chargers, with whom he signed. He was one of the first major players who chose the AFL over the NFL. His career as a lineman -- so often an unsung position -- was so splendid that Ron had his jersey number, 74, retired by the Chargers.

Mix studied law at night during the football season and became known as the "intellectual assassin." He also became executive counsel of the San Diego Chargers after his playing days. Ron then turned to private practice in San Diego, often representing retired players in workmen's compensation claims for athletic-related injuries.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 10, 1938

Career Highlights:
Mix attended the USC (University of Southern California) on a football scholarship and entered school as a 180-pound end. By the time he graduated, he was up to 250 pounds due to an intensive weight-training program. Hall of Famer Al Davis, one of Ron's coaches at USC said, "Mix has complete dedication, great speed, pride, and is a tremendous hitter. Hard work was his answer to changing average ability to great ability."

A three-year starter, Ron captained the 1959 team that had a record of 8-2-0 and tied for first in the Pacific Coast Conference. After winning their first eight games, the Trojans lost their final two to UCLA and Notre Dame and finished the season ranked No. 14; USC was banned from postseason play by the NCAA. That season, Mix was named consensus All-America first team, AP All-Pacific Coast first team, All-Big Five first team, MVP USC Lineman Award, and won the Trojaneer Diamond Award as the senior athlete who did the most to further the reputation of USC.

In 1960, Mix was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Colts of the NFL and the Boston Patriots of the newly-formed American Football League. The Patriots recognized that Mix would be a sensation in Los Angeles -- where the San Diego Chargers played their first season -- and traded him for the betterment of the new league.

Mix gladly signed with the Chargers and said, "The Colts offered me $8,500 to come to play in cold Baltimore. The Chargers offered me to $12,000 to play in my hometown. It was one of my easier decisions. It didn't bother me that the AFL at that time had no guarantee of success, that it might last only be a few years. I had planned to play only two years of pro ball and then go into teaching."

His game plan went awry, however, as Mix, a master of fundamentals, quickly became a dominant lineman in the new league and a key player for the high-flying Chargers. Chargers running back Paul Lowe said, "When you're running behind Mix, it's like you're a little kid and he's your big brother protecting you from the wolves."

In the first season of the AFL, the Chargers (10-4-0) made it to the AFL Championship, losing in the title game to the Houston Oilers, 27-16. In 1961, the Chargers (12-2-0) -- now in San Diego -- returned to the Championship game, but lost again to the Oilers, 10-3. Finally, in 1963, the Chargers (12-2-0) won the AFL Championship, defeating the Patriots, 51-10. In the game, Mix had an outstanding play, blocking three different Patriot players in a single sequence to spring the Charger runner to score.

Following the game, Newsweek wrote, "Mix is not only the best offensive lineman in the AFL, he is also a performer with enough dash to draw one eye of the spectator away from the glamor of the backfield." In 1967, Sport Magazine wrote, "...his technique, desire, strength, and balance still impress. He's known as a 'pop-out' blocker, the kind who gets his man with a quick initial thrust. He can get to the outside linebacker or defensive end in a hurry. At times he could deal with three men in one play; he could also block the corner man, stay on his feet, and get the safety as well."

Mix played for the Chargers until 1970 (they played in two more AFL Championship games, losing both) and then retired, although he came out of retirement to play with the Oakland Raiders in 1971. Mix played in 142 career games, was named All-Pro nine times and played in nine Pro Bowls. He was also the Chargers' MVP in 1962, a rare achievement for a lineman.

In 1969, Ron was unanimously named to the All-Time AFL Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1979, he was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only the sixth lineman ever elected. When asked whether any other Jews had been inducted, Ron said: "I don't know, but I think we own the ground and lease to the place." He is also a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 1964, Mix discussed his role in sports with Sport Magazine and said, "To some people, I guess I represent some kind of racial hero. Sure, it would be best if people would say, 'That's Ron Mix, a human being who made good.' But until that time in history comes around, I'm proud when they say, 'There's Ron Mix, a Jewish football player who made good.' " Later, when asked what the greatest influence in his life was, Ron responded, "I'm Jewish and I think in many ways it is a great advantage being born to a minority faith because it instills in you a desire to prove that you're just as good as anyone else. And that is why the Jews are represented far beyond their numbers in all of the major fields. The biggest influence...being born Jewish was 1) wanting to show because of obvious discrimination that I was as good as anyone else, and 2) the ethic of stressing education and family brings stability." Mix is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Los Angeles, California

Career Dates:
Mix played end at the University of Southern California from 1957-1960. He then played tackle in the AFL with the Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers from 1960-1970, and for the Oakland Raiders from 1971-1972.

Physical description:
6'4", 250 pounds

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Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Football edited by David L. Porter (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987)
The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 -- 14th Edition)
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)

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