Keith Lincoln, said to be one of the best to ever play the game of football. People loved watching him play the game, and loved him as a person. He was a great guy on and off the field. You probably have never heard of him unless you are very dedicated football enthusiast or from Pullman Washington or San Diego California. From starting his freshman year of high school weighing "a buck twenty" as he would say and graduating with a scholarship to Washington State University to play football. You could say he worked hard on and off the field and always knew what he wanted.
Keith Lincoln grew up in a small town in southern California. He lived on a ranch with his mom, dad, and two brothers. He was the youngest of the three and was the smallest in size until his senior year of high school. Starting his freshman year of high school Keith did not know how he was going to fit in. Being 5’2" 120 pounds he was the " typical freshman" He went into high school with no real purpose but left that high school with a huge purpose.
As a freshman he decided to give football a test run. His older brother had played so he wanted to try it as well. He told me the first time he walked on to the field and saw the coach he just laughed at him. He said, "I must have looked ridiculous out there! The pads all together probably weighed more than me, no wonder the coach laughed at me!" As the team ran drills Keith just sat watching. That was until we walked over to the coach and asked him if he could try running a drill. The coach looked at him and said, " What position do you play?" Keith just shrugged his shoulders and said the one and only position in football he knew of. "Quarterback". The coach looked at him nodded his head and gave him a shot. He was terrible, absolutely horrible. But that didn’t stop him.
It was now his senior year of high school and he was the starting quarterback. He was no longer the scrawny little freshman but the 6’3" scary Senior. When it came to picking a college he had many choices ones that any athlete would dream of. UCLA, Alabama, Stanford and WSU, just to name a few colleges that were interested in Keith. His final two choices came between, UCLA and WSU. Now most of you are probably thinking he had to go with UCLA, right? Well, wrong. He went with WSU. He told me that UCLA may have had the better program but WSU was a better fit for him as a person and he said when he did his visit he fell in love with the small town of Pullman.
At first Keith thought he was just going to start where he left off, the starting quarterback. But boy was he wrong. He was in for a huge wake up call going into his first practice as a WSU Cougar. The coach decided to scrimmage everyone and after practice talk to the players one on one. 30 minutes after practice had ended it was finally time for Keith to meet with the coach. Coach said Keith had great potential and was a great athlete, but not as a quarterback. Keith was in shock and a little taken back by what the coach had said at first. Then the coach made him an offer. The coach said " You could be a quarterback and redshirt this year, or you can be a running back this year. I’ll leave the decision up to you." Now again you might think he would have been smarter to just redshirt as a quarterback then to start playing a whole new position that he had never played before but, once again Keith shocked a lot of people, Even himself. He was going to play running back.
At that moment he didn't know that decision would change his life forever. He worked day in and day out learning everything there is to know about being a running back. "It wasn’t easy or too much fun at the time" he said. "But it was 100 percent worth it." He learned the ins and outs of being a running back and by the end of his time at WSU was one of the best running backs the school has seen. He earned numerous awards and a nickname from all the Cougar fans " The Moose of the Palouse". At the end of Keith Lincoln’s journey as a Cougar he had not only played running back as well as, defensive back, a kicker and a punter who also returned kicks. The Cougars went 17-12-1 and in 1958 almost made it to the rose bowl, finishing second in league.
Keith had a great run at Washington State, but that was only the beginning for him. After his last season as a Cougar he was drafted into the AFL by the San Diego Chargers. From there he played a total of 7 seasons with the Chargers. His most memorable game by far has to be the 1964 AFL championship game against the Boston Patriots. In that game alone he rushed 13 times for 206 yards, caught 7 passes for 123 yards and completed a 20 yard pass. All and all he accounted for 349 total yards and 2 touchdowns in that game. The Chargers defeated the Patriots 51-10 for the league championship.
Keith finished his career with the San Diego Chargers with a total of 3,383 rushing yards, 2,250 receiving yards and a total of 40 touchdowns. After retiring from professional football Keith, his wife and two sons all moved back to Pullman. Keith was the assistant coach for the Washington State University football team for a few years then went on to work as the Alumni director for the college. He retired from the university for good in 2003. He now still lives in Pullman Washington and attends almost every home football game of the season.
It is easy to say that Keith Lincoln was one of the most versatile players to ever play the game. Some call him a legend, others the " Moose of The Palouse" But to me he is just grandpa. Its crazy knowing that my grandpa was huge sports star back in his day. I wish I could have watched him play or least get to see old videos of him playing but we don’t have any. My grandpa playing in the AFL and NFL I believe has been a big part of who I am. Without my grandpa’s love of football, I know I would not love football the way I do. The way my grandpa and I bond is through football and other sports and I am happy I can share the love of the game with him.