- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Testing R.C. Owens' legacy 48 years after his 1964 retirement was easy.
Me: What's an alley-oop?
My 7-year-old son: "It's when someone throws the ball up and then someone else dunks it."
The phrase originating with Owens' leaping grabs from Y.A. Tittle for the San Francisco 49ers became ubiquitous in basketball years later. Owens, who passed away Sunday at age 78, was also the first 49ers player to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
The team inducted Owens into its Hall of Fame last year. This team video shows a grateful Owens thanking the organization, crediting teammates and embracing his famous contribution to the sporting vernacular.
Matt Barrows' 2011 story on Owens is worth revisiting. In it, he notes that Owens stood 6-foot-3 and averaged 27.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore at College of Idaho, where he played with Elgin Baylor. That leaping ability gave Owens an edge against defensive backs. He was well-suited to the alley-oop.
"After stumbling upon it in practice as they prepared for a game against the Los Angeles Rams, the two connected twice -- before halftime and for the game-winning touchdown -- during the game," Barrows wrote. "The play worked the following week against the Bears at Wrigley Field and later in the year at Kezar Stadium against the Lions. Owens estimates the Alley Oop was successful another dozen or so times."