Don Burroughs, a former Ventura College star quarterback who became a five-time All-Pro defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, died Oct. 20 at the Victoria Care Center in Ventura after a battle with cancer. He was 75.
Dubbed “The Blade” by Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin because of his reed-like 6-foot, 5-inch, 188-pound frame, Burroughs intercepted 50 passes in 10 professional seasons. He intercepted nine passes for the Eagles team that won the NFL title in 1960.
Burroughs had been a four-sport standout at Fillmore High School who went on to star at quarterback for Pasadena City College and Ventura College, where he became a Little All-American. He told The Times in 1991 that he had scholarship offers from major football powers including USC and Notre Dame but went to Colorado A&M; (now Colorado State University) because he “didn’t want to go to a big university and get lost in the shuffle.”
Burroughs was drafted in 1953 by the Army after he had signed a free-agent contract to join the Rams, but Rams General Manager Tex Schramm made special arrangements so that Burroughs would report to the Presidio in San Francisco instead of the Korean Peninsula. He played football for a special services unit while in the Army.
Discharged from the service in 1955, Burroughs joined the Rams and switched to defense because of a logjam at quarterback. He made an immediate impact in his first season, intercepting nine passes as a 24-year-old rookie.
At the urging of former Rams teammate Van Brocklin, who had been traded to the Eagles one year earlier, Burroughs was traded to Philadelphia in 1960. Burroughs made a key play during Philadelphia’s 17-13 championship-game victory over the Green Bay Packers in 1960, tackling fullback Jim Taylor for a one-yard loss on fourth and inches inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line.
After his football career ended, Burroughs ran a trucking company, a beer distributorship, a restaurant and a company that supplied fuel to offshore oil rigs. Burroughs was inducted into the Ventura College Hall of Fame two weeks before his death.
Burroughs is survived by his wife, Elaine; daughters Jeanne, Michele and Laura; son Andy; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and sisters Eleanor and Kathleen.
A memorial Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Church in Ventura.