This Day in Sports - August 19, 1983:: Heisman Trophy Winner Billy Cannon of LSU Sentenced to Prison for Counterfeiting
Written by Jim Bankes   
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 14:53

August 19: Counterfeiter


Billy Cannon combined great power with blazing speed.

August 18, 1983: Heisman Trophy Winner Billy Cannon of LSU Sentenced to Prison for Counterfeiting


Billy Cannon forged a brilliant career at LSU, leading the Tigers to a national championship in 1958 and winning the Heisman Trophy in 1959.

A track coach once said of Cannon’s awesome gifts – “If he lost 15 pounds, he could win Olympic Gold in the 100, and if he gained 15 pounds, he could win gold in the shot put.”

After his college career, and a fierce bidding war between the NFL and the AFL, Cannon signed with the Houston Oilers of the AFL for the 1960 season, giving the fledgling league instant credibility. After four outstanding years, the Oilers traded him to the Oakland Raiders and Al Davis converted him to a tight end.

When Cannon retired six years later, many experts considered him one of the best running backs in history and also one of the best tight ends in history.

Cannon became a successful dentist after retirement but still suffered financial difficulties because of poor real estate investments and gambling debts. He answered by printing $50 million in counterfeit $100 bills and burying them in ice chests in his back yard.

Convicted, and sentenced to five years in prison, Cannon earned parole in just over two years.  Today, he works as a dentist at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, the largest maximum security institution in the United States. Most of the inmates call him “Legend.”

Perhaps Dr. Billy Cannon has found peace during the winter of his time.

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