LSU football legend, Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon dead at 80

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky

Billy Cannon, the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner who led Louisiana State University to a national title in 1958, died Sunday, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. He was 80.

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Cannon, a running back, is the only player in LSU football history to win the Heisman. His famous “Halloween run” -- an 89-yard punt return in the fourth quarter against No. 3 Ole Miss in 1959 -- remains one of the most memorable plays in the program’s history. It proved to be the difference in the top-ranked Tigers’ 7-3 victory against the Rebels.

It clinched LSU’s 19th straight victory.

Cannon was the first overall pick in the 1960 NFL draft, but also signed with the AFL's Houston Oilers. After a court battle, Cannon was allowed to sign with the Oilers, becoming pro football's first $100,000 player, ESPN reported.

Cannon played with the AFL’s Oilers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City from 1960 to 1970.

Cannon went to dental school during the offseason, and after retiring became an orthodontist and also dabbled in real estate, The Advocate reported.

But in July 1983, he was identified as the main figure in a $6 million counterfeiting scheme after FBI agents found phony money in ice coolers buried on one of Cannon’s properties, the newspaper reported. Cannon was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000, the Advocate reported. He served nearly three years in federal prison.

Cannon was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. His honors were rescinded after his conviction, but he was reinstated into the Canton, Ohio, shrine in 2008, ESPN reported.

"Billy Cannon was LSU football through and through," Tigers coach Ed Orgeron tweeted Sunday. "He will be missed and never forgotten."

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