Sweetan, Karl : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Sweetan, Karl

Karl Robert Sweetan

Sweetan, whose paternal grandmother was Jewish (he was also of Native-American decent), played quarterback in the NFL in the 1960s. As a rookie in 1966, he tied an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown pass.

In 1968, he appeared in the movie Paper Lion starring Alan Alda and Alex Karras. The movie, about a sports writer working out with the Detroit Lions, was based on George Plimpton's best-seller of the same name. Other Detroit players appeared in the film, including head coach Joe Schmidt, tackle Alex Karras, quarterback Milt Plum, running back Mel Farr, and ends Pat Studstill and Ron Kramer.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. October 2, 1942 - d. July 2, 2000

Career Highlights:
After a college career at Texas A&M and Wake Forest, Sweetan was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 18th round (249th overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft. By mid-season, Sweetan was the Lions' improbable starting quarterback when Milt Plum went down with a knee injury. Sweetan had a decent rookie year, playing in 10 games for the Lions, who went 4-9-1 on the season, sixth in the NFL West.

1966 was the best statistical year of Karl's career as he completed 157-309 passes for 1,809 yards and four touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. He also ran 34 times for 219 yards (6.4 average), and one touchdown. On October 16, Sweetan entered the NFL record books when he completed a 99-yard pass to Pat Studstill against the Baltimore Colts.

The following year, Sweetan and Plum shared the quarterbacking duties and Karl completed 74-177 passes for 901 yards, 10 touchdowns (a career-high) and 11 interceptions. The Lions finished the season 5-7-2, third in the newly formed NFL Central. Sweetan played three more seasons in the NFL as a backup with the New Orleans Saints, and the Los Angeles Rams, but appeared in only 16 games over those three seasons.

Karl retired after the 1970 season, having played in 36 career NFL games. In 1972, he was accused -- but never charged -- with a scheme to steal a Rams playbook and sell it to the New Orleans Saints.

Origin:
Dallas, Texas

Career Dates:
Sweetan played at Texas A&M University and Wake Forest. He was a quarterback in the NFL with the Detroit Lions from 1966-1967, the New Orleans Saints in 1968, and with the Los Angeles Rams from 1969-1970.

Physical description:
6'2", 200 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 36

Passes completed: 269
Passes attempted: 590
Passing percentage: 45.6
Passing touchdowns: 17
Interceptions thrown: 34

Rushes: 56
Rushing yards: 306
Rushing average: 5.5
Rushing touchdowns: 2
Fumbles: 11



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References:
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)
Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)


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