Billy Cannon, a legend on the gridiron for LSU was taken to the hospital Tuesday afternoon after apparently suffering a stroke. Cannon played halfback and defensive back for the LSU tigers during the late 1950’s and won the Heisman trophy in 1959.
After his college playing days, Cannon went on to the NFL and played for the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers. NFL.com reports that after his playing days, Cannon went to dental school.
The 75 year old has worked at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola for the past 15 years as the prison’s director of its dental program.
Billy Cannon suffered the stroke at around 12:30 PM on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com. Cannon’s family later sent out an emailed statement giving an update on his status:
“He did have a stroke and the doctors will conduct tests to see the extent. They will keep him in ICU tonight and watch him overnight. The family thanks everyone for their prayers and concerns.”
Perhaps Cannon’s greatest moment as an LSU Tiger came on Halloween of 1959. In a game against then #3 Mississippi, Cannon’s top ranked squad was down 3-0 with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Cannon took a punt return back 89 yards for the games only touchdown, breaking seven tackles in the process. Cannon’s life after playing football have not always been positive.
Billy Cannon was arrested in 1983 on federal counterfeiting charges. After pleading guilty he served about half of a five-year prison sentence. Once released, Cannon was essentially penniless.
After his release Cannon was eventually able to rebuild his life. Though his name around LSU was initially a bit tarnished, he was able to rebuild that as well by serving at the prison and attending LSU events.
Billy Cannon played halfback, fullback and tight end in the NFL, amassing 2,455 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on the ground over 11 seasons.
Cannon also caught 236 passes for 3,656 yards and 47 touchdowns.