Roy Lee Jefferson (born November 9, 1943 in Texarkana, Arkansas) is a former American football wide receiver who played twelve seasons in the National Football League. During 162 regular season games he had 451 receptions for 7,539 yards and 52 touchdowns.
Drafted out of the University of Utah, where he had been named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in his senior year, Jefferson spent his first five NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1965–1969). In 1968, Jefferson led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,074. His 58 receptions and 11 touchdowns were both 2nd highest in the NFL that season. He was named 1st Team All-Pro by Associated Press (AP), the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York Daily News and UPI in 1969. Jefferson finished that season with 67 receptions for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns and became the first Steelers receiver to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Despite being the Steelers best offensive player, conflicts with head coach Chuck Noll would result in Jefferson being traded to the Baltimore Colts before the 1970 season.
Jefferson was with the Colts for only one season, but helped them reach and win Super Bowl V. He finished the 1970 regular season with 44 receptions for 749 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Johnny Unitas in the Colts 17-0 Divisional playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals and had three receptions for 52 yards in the Colts 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Jefferson was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1971. He spent six seasons with the Redskins, helping them reach Super Bowl VII in 1972, before retiring after the 1976 season.
Jefferson had a leading role in the 1976 blaxploitation feature film Brotherhood of Death. After his retirement from football, he remained in the Washington, D.C. area. In the ensuing years, his endeavors have included owning a chain of barbecue restaurants and working for charities. As of 2006, he was working in the real estate business. He reported that he and his wife had three children and four grandchildren.
Jefferson was named to the Pittsburgh Steelers Legends team in 2007, as one of the best 24 Steelers players prior to 1970.
By Dean Hanley
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