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Neil Graff



Born Jan. 12, 1950 in Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls (1968 Lincoln High grad). 1972 University of Wisconsin grad. The only National Football League quarterback that South Dakota has produced, the Sioux Falls native spent six years with five teams in the 1970s.

Graff got his start in organized football as a seventh-grader playing touch football at Whittier Junior High. Don Erickson was his coach. "He lined all the kids up, 40 kids in a row, and said, 'Hold out your hands.' The kid with the biggest hands got to be quarterback. That was me," said Graff.

Graff was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 16th round of the 1972 NFL draft. He was with Minnesota one year, then two years in New England and two in Pittsburgh. He also was with Seattle and Green Bay briefly. The 6-3, 205-pounder was a backup to some of the NFL's best quarterbacks: Fran Tarkenton in Minnesota, Jim Plunkett in New England and Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh. He saw action in three seasons (1974-75 with New England and 1977 with Pittsburgh). In his NFL career, he completed 25 of 48 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.

Graff started 33 straight games at Wisconsin. He was the Badgers' MVP and all-Big Ten as a senior. He led the Big Ten in passing and total offense as a junior. He set school records for career passing yards (3,699) and touchdown passes (23) as well as single-game TD passes (4) and passing efficiency (259.9).

At Lincoln High, Graff was all-state in football and basketball two years and he had NCAA Division I scholarship offers in both sports. He led Lincoln to the mythical state football title as a junior and helped the Patriots to a runner-up finish in basketball as a senior.

He was named the High School Football Player of the Decade for the 1960s by the Rapid City Journal.  Graff was chosen as one of South Dakota's top 50 athletes of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated. He is a member of the Lincoln High Hall of Fame.

He played Legion baseball as well.












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