Nunnie on the Sideline

"Nunnie" Robinson

By “Nunnie” Robinson, Westside Gazette Sports Editor

A little history lesson from a football junky’s perspective: The AFL was a fledgling new league that wanted to compete with the NFL for revenue, fan support, television rights and most importantly players. However, the NFL viewed the league as a nuisance, refusing to accept the league as equal. You might recall a few of the teams in the AFL: New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Boston Patriots, Dallas Texans and the  San Diego Chargers. Perhaps three or four major events led to the merger and Super Bowl I.

First, oilman Lamar Hunt, the father of the AFL, moved the Texans from Dallas to Kansas City after the Cowboys  became a franchise despite the unwritten agreement to honor and respect markets/territory. The second was Alabama All-American quarterback Joe Namath spurning the NFL and signing instead with the New York Jets. Next the AFL signed a huge television deal with NBC, an important breakthrough. Then another unwritten agreement was broken when the New York Giants signed placekicker Pete Gogolak away from the AFL’s Buffalo Bills. The high flying style of play employed by the new league gained rapid fan support, leading to the eventual merger and Super Bowl I. But here’s a  caveat for us Black History buffs. Another extremely important reason for the AFL’s success and eventual merger was  the pipeline of great football players signed by AFL teams from HBCUs.  And the team that benefited most because of visionary leadership and a desire to be successful no matter the race was the Kansas City Chiefs, formerly the Dallas Texans. Here is just a glimpse of HBCU players who led the Chiefs to a second Super Bowl title ( The New York Jets upset the supposed unbeatable Baltimore Colts as guaranteed by Joe “Willie “ Namath): Buck Buchanon, Willie Lanier, Otis Taylor, Ernie Ladd and Emmitt Thomas. As a matter of fact, 9 of the Chiefs defensive starters were Black. One name I want  everyone to remember is Loyd Wells because as much as anyone he was responsible for the HBCU pipeline of great players to Kansas City and other teams. It is Black History Month after all, isn’t it……

Other lesser known players on the Chiefs’ roster included Solomon Brannon from Morris Brown, Willie Mitchell from Tennessee State, Frank Pitts from Southern, Andy Rice from Texas Southern, Fletcher Smith from Tennessee State and Eugene Thomas from FAMU.

About Carma Henry 24585 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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