clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 1/17

New, comments
Getty Images

Good morning Chiefs fans. It's a strange day today. I really can't find a new Kansas City Chiefs story to post. What I will do instead is post some older articles that remind us about the role the AFL, and specifically the Chiefs played in assisting the advancement of civil rights. Seems appropriate for the MLK holiday.

Many also credit Hunt with aiding the civil rights movement, which was just beginning to accelerate in the early '60s when Hunt's upstart AFL created more opportunities for black players.

Unlike many established NFL teams, the AFL sent scouts into the historically black colleges such as Grambling. As the AFL grew more successful, the NFL began signing more black players as well.

"There is no question the AFL helped expand opportunities for minority athletes in this country, and Lamar founded the AFL," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said.

Lamar Hunt, Chiefs owner and sports legend, dies at 74 from ESPN

Lamar Hunt, just as he was a trailblazer in starting the AFL, also made it a point to hire a scout, Lloyd Wells, who concentrated strictly on the smaller black colleges.

"Lamar had gone to any game that was in the Cotton Bowl, and Grambling would play in the Cotton Bowl every year with other black colleges," said Jack Steadman, Hunt's top business executive. "Lamar felt there were some great, great players that were overlooked because they were black."

One of them: Abner Haynes from North Texas State. Another, Elbert Dubenion from Bluffton College. Still another, Willie Lanier from Morgan State.

AFL opened doors for players from the historically black colleges from NFL.com

With 40 million Americans watching at home on television and 60,000 waiting inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Willie Hill's moment had arrived.

In the heart of the Civil Rights movement, the junior drum major would lead the marching bands for both Grambling College, a historically black school, and the University of Arizona, onto the field for pregame entertainment before Super Bowl I.

The musical rainbow from ESPN

"He didn't care what color you were," Bell says of Stram. "He wanted to know if you could play. If you could play football, then he wanted you."

Bell also underscores the social significance and the long-term impact on pro football that the Chiefs' equal-opportunity mind-set cultivated.

"That was a time when things changed," says Bell, who would typically count as many as 45 black players in the team's training camp. "We were bringing 'em in from all over. ... If it hadn't been for Lamar Hunt, a lot of players at black schools (might) still be looking for opportunities."

Chiefs Were Toast of the AFL... After They Left Dallas from Rememberthe AFL.com