While at Florida State, Biletnikoff was chosen as the 1st consensus All-American football player in the school’s history. After college, he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 2nd round of the 1965 American Football League draft, and by the Detroit Lions in the 3rd round of the 1965 NFL Draft. Biletnikoff signed with the Raiders, and he spent his entire American Pro Football playing career in Oakland, retiring from the team after the 1978 season.
Biletnikoff was known as a wily, sure-handed receiver who made clutch catches to keep crucial drives alive. He had an uncanny ability to get open, even when everyone in the stadium knew that the ball was coming his way. He was famous for using liberal quantities of Stickum on his hands to improve his chances of catching a pass. Biletnikoff’s career total of 589 receptions may appear modest by today’s standards, but it is remarkable considering the more run-oriented offenses in the 60s and 70s, and that the regular season in those years was only 12 or later, 14 games long. The same can be said of his record of 10 straight seasons with 40 or more receptions. He played in the second AFL-NFL World Championship game and in Super Bowl XI, in which he was named MVP. In 1969, he was selected to the Sporting News’ AFL All-League team. He also played in 3 American Football League title games, 2 American Football League All-Star games, 5 AFC Championships, and 4 AFC-NFC Pro Bowls.
Biletnikoff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991. The Fred Biletnikoff Award, awarded annually to the best wide receiver in college football since 1994, was named in his honor. In 1999, Biletnikoff was ranked number 94 on The Sporting News’ list of the “100 Greatest Football Players.”