One of the greatest Mizzou football players ever spent his entire career in the Show-Me State.
Roger Wehrli was a Missouri player throughout his whole life.
He grew up in small-town King City in Northwest Missouri before attending the University of Missouri in 1965. Four years later, he was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Last Wednesday, CBS Sports released its All-Time All-America team as one of its many celebrations to celebrate 150 years of college football. Missouri’s homegrown kid was mentioned among the greatest ever.
Wehrli was the lone Mizzou football player to make the list — an honorable mention cornerback alongside LSU’s Patrick Peterson, Kansas State’s Terence Newman, North Carolina’s Dre Bly, Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Darrell Green and Florida State’s Terrell Buckley.
First-team cornerbacks were Michigan’s Charles Woodson and Florida State’s Deion Sanders. The second team was Georgia’s Champ Bailey and Purdue’s Rod Woodson.
Wehrli deserves all the accolades that comes with his career as a Tiger.
At Missouri, Wehrli was a two-time All-Big 8 player and was named the Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year in 1968. He also was a unanimous All-American selection his senior season, a year that saw him grab seven interceptions, including one in the Gator Bowl where Missouri trounced No. 12 Alabama 35-10. The Tigers finished No. 9 in the nation that season.
Wehrli was a versatile player and the Tigers used his athleticism wherever they could. His senior season, he led the nation with a 12-yard punt return average.
And it almost never was.
According to the St. Louis Dispatch, in an article posted in 2007, Wehrli said he made plans to play basketball at Northwest Missouri State, but with the very last scholarship available, Missouri coach Dan Devin offered it to Wehrli.
"“No doubt about it,” Wehrli said. “In high school, football really wasn’t my favorite sport. I was more into basketball. But when Coach Devine offered the scholarship, I jumped at the opportunity to go to a big university like Missouri. And then the Cardinals drafted me in the first round in ’69, I moved to St. Louis to start a pro football career, and I’ve been fortunate to remain in St. Louis for the rest of my life.“It’s unbelievable, the way it turned out. Looking back on it, it’s truly amazing. It’s a fairy tale. It really is a dream come true.”"
Wehrli’s college career was just the beginning. His NFL career was just as great. It was a career that led him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
With the Cardinals, Wehrli was a seven-time pro bowler and six-time All-Pro player — five of those were first-team All-Pros. Wehrli did damage throughout the 1970s in the NFL. He arguable was the greatest cornerback that decade.
Wehrli helped the Cardinals make the postseason for the first time in 26 years in 1974. They made the playoffs two other times why Wehrli was there but failed to make it past the Divisional Round. Wehrli retired after the 1982 season, wrapping up a 14-year career in the NFL. The man nicknamed “Roger the Dodger” ranks 78th in NFL history with 40 career interceptions.
According to the Missourian from an article in 2016, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said “shutdown corner” became a term because of Wehrli. He didn’t throw it his way.
"For the next 14 years, Wehrli erased opposing wide receivers from games. He recorded more interceptions against Dallas Cowboys’ Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach than any other quarterback Wehrli played. Staubauch famously said Wehrli originated the term “shutdown corner” because offenses avoided throwing to his side of the field altogether."
Wehrli just had a knack for the ball. He recovered 22 fumbles in his pro career.
It took 25 years, but Wehrli got the call he was waiting for from the Hall. That solidified his pro career.
Just a few years before that, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003. That solidified his college career.
And now, one publication puts him as one of the 10 best ever to play at his position. And he did so at a time when you only could suit up for games after your freshman season.
He was the only player listed at cornerback who played college football prior to 1979. To be mentioned with talented players like Woodson and Sanders is quite the honor. A deserving honor for one of the greatest Tigers to ever play.