COLUMBIA - In 1990, Roger “the Dodger” Wehrli entered the MU Football Hall of Fame. Friday, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along side Charlie Sanders, Bruce Matthews, Thurman Thomas, Gene Hickerson, and Michael Irvin.
Wehrli, born in New Point, MO. in 1947, set eight records during his three seasons with MU, led the nation in punt returns in 1968, and was all-Big Eight in 1967 and ‘68 and all-America in ‘68. After his senior year, he played in four all-star games - Hula Bowl, College All-Star Game, the Senior Bowl, and Coaches All-America Game.
“It was my success at the state track meet my senior year that caught the eye of the Missouri football coaches that thought I might have the speed and the quickness to play football at Mizzou,” Wehrli remembered in his induction speech. “Out of the blue, I was offered a scholarship to the University of Missouri, and I took it, even though I wondered if I had what it took to play major college football. What a great decision that was.”
He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969, as right cornerback. Wehrli tied or led in interceptions for the Cardinals four times during his career, . He made an interception in all but two seasons throughout his 14 year career, and held a total of 40 interceptions that he returned for 309 yards. In 1977, Wehrli led the Cardinals in interceptions with five, including an interception in four straight games – all won by St. Louis.
Beyond his strong ability to cover receivers, Wehrli recovered 19 fumbles during his career, a franchise record that still stands after his retirement in 1982.
Wehrli’s friend and teammate for the first four years of his pro football career, Larry Wilson, introduced him at the enshrinement ceremony.
“My most vivid memory of Roger Wehrli is the last year of his career, when he faked the field goal and ran with it,” he said during the ceremony. “That to me was kind of the epitome of 14 years.”
Wehrli did not forget to thank friends, family, teammates and fans during his speech.
“Football is such a team sport that none of us are successful by ourselves. It takes a whole team for one person to succeed,” he said. “I want to thank those players and coaches on those Cardinal teams and in some way share this with them. I hope they can feel the pride I have in being here on this stage as one of their teammates,” he said.
Wehrli earned first-team All-Pro recognition five times (1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977), was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s, and was five times named All-NFC.