A bit off topic -- but I read recently that Joe Tofflemire died aged 46. The obituary said he played in the NFL as a linebacker but I remember him as a javelin thrower, and he would have made a fine decathlete.
site identifying top 150 athletes in Kansas hx - he was 12th
Cromwell’s athleticism as a teen _ AAU decathlon champ, All-State in football, all-class basketball _ made him a valuable addition to the KU football and track teams.
Cromwell played safety for two Jayhawk seasons, then switched to quarterback, where he was named Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year in 1975 (on a fourth-place team). That season included 294 rushing yards (then an NCAA QB record) against Oregon State and ending Oklahoma’s 28-game winning streak.
His other season was on the track, where Cromwell set school records in the 400 meters, 600 yards and decathlon.
An 11-year NFL career, all with the Los Angeles Rams, included four Pro Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl and 37 interceptions at safety.
from Sports Illustrated: October 26, 1981
As a member of the Kansas track team Cromwell ran the indoor 600 in 1:10, just 2.4 seconds off the world best. He had a relay quarter-mile split of 46.5. He was the Big Eight champion in the intermediate hurdles, and his time of 49.5 qualified him for the 1976 Olympic Trials. And once, just for kicks, he entered the decathlon and scored 6,806 points. "With practice I probably could have gotten up to 7,500," Cromwell says. Others suspect he could have gotten close to 8,000.
If memory serves his main event was the 400ih (49.5 as noted). The AAU jr decath championship is being more elusive to pin down. My memory does remember various 'who's the best' athlete 'debates' in the 70s/80s and recall Cromwell's name coming up. He was often/frequently/all the time mentioned as best/most versatile athlete in NFL ranks.
I'm curious now if the 6806 is the total he had in AAU meet ... or if that is documented anywhere.
TFN forum topic: NFL/decathlete Post by decafan, Feb 24, 2004 "That is not true. Bill COULD have been a good decathlete, but never did one. Bill likes to perpetuate that decathlon myth though. He did a Pentathlon in '93 and scored 3,933 pts. The laCrosse decathlon record is 7030, set by someone else."
And he didn't play professionally, but Rafer Johnson started for John Wooden's basketball team, which was pretty good (though not as good as a few years later, when they began to win everything in sight).