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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MERCER, Michael

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Mike Mercer, an outstanding athlete in Dubuque, went on to fame in professional football. Photo courtesy: Melinda Blok

MERCER, Mike. (Algona, IA, Nov. 21, 1935-- ). The son of "Moco" and Helen MERCER, Michael graduated from DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL in 1953. In May of that year he won first place in the shot put, discus and high hurdles in the Senior-Loras champion track meet and was chosen by Iowa State University as one of five outstanding athletes in Iowa. (1) He was granted a scholarship by the University of Minnesota. (2)

Schooling was interrupted by service in the U.S. Marines after which Mercer graduated from Northern Arizona State in 1961. (3) As a senior, he played in the Sun Bowl and the American Bowl. In 1960 Mercer led the nation in scoring by kicking.

In 1961 Mercer was drafted in the fifteenth round by the Minnesota Vikings. (4) He began his professional career as a placekicker and punter. (5) With the Vikings, he scored the first points in AFL franchise history against the Chicago Bears. (6) He set the AFL record for single game punting with an average of 51.2 feet with the Oakland Raiders. He also had 154 consecutive extra points after touchdowns.

With the 1966 Kansas City Chiefs, Mercer kicked the first field goal in the first Super Bow1, a 31-yarder in a game that was eventually won by the Green Bay Packers 35-10. (7) It was to be his best year making good on 21 of 30 field goal attempts for a 70% accuracy which became an AFL record. (8) The following summer Sports Illustrated magazine took Mercer and another kicker to England to kick against soccer players. On a muddy, poorly kept field north of Liverpool, Mercer's rating was 68% compared to 56% by the other American and 52% and 40% for the two soccer players. The Pro Bowl game, with Mercer playing on Joe Namath's team, followed in 1968 at Jacksonville, Florida.

Mercer's professional career spanned eleven years before he retired in 1970. Teams: (9)

                1961-62 Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
                1963-65 Oakland Raiders (AFL)
                1966 Kansas City Chiefs (AFL)
                1967-67 Buffalo Bills (AFL)
                1968-69 Green Bay Packers (NFL)
                1970 San Diego Chargers (NFL)

Advertising posters for the PUNT, PASS AND KICK CONTEST first carried a sketch-drawn by Norman Rockwell-of Mike Mercer and a boy. (10) (Photo Courtesy: Melinda Blok)




1. Day, Mike (editor), The '50s: Vol. 1: 1950-1954, Dubuque: Woodward Communications, 2015, p. 12

2. Tigges, John. They Came From Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1983, p. 12

3. Ibid.

4. "Mike Mercer, Pro Football-Reference.com. Online: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MercMi20.htm

5. "Mike Mercer Signs with Green Bay; Faces Vikings Today," Telegraph Herald, November 10, 1968, p. 25

6. Michael "Mike" Mercer. Oldest Living Football Players, Online: http://www.oldestlivingprofootball.com/michaelmikemercer.htm

7. Hogstrom, Erik, "Super Sunday Showdown," Telegraph Herald, February 6, 2011, p 1

8. "Mike Mercer Signs..."

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

175 Years Vol. II Telegraph Herald, p. 105