Hank Stram Didn’t See Black or White

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hank stram

Last week we discussed Al Davis’s role in the advancement of the minority athlete (and later minority head coach and front office personnel) in professional football.  Several readers commented that while Davis, and Sid Gillman, were important figures in bringing the black athlete into the forefront of pro football, no coach did more to break down the color barriers that the Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs head man, Hank Stram.  Stram popularized scouting the historically black schools, and went so far as to hire Lloyd Wells to specifically pull talent out of those colleges and universities.  His overall success is seen in all aspects of the Chiefs; two-of-for AFL Super Bowl appearances, being the only coach to represent a team throughout all 10 years of the AFL, a high number of his players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with many more still deserving of induction).

In this article and accompanying video by ESPN.com’s Jeffri Chadiha, important men in the pro football ranks weigh in on Hank Stram and his overall contributions to the game.  Of course his natty dress and “let’s keep matriculating the ball down the field,” make an appearance, but not at the expense of what Stram meant to the game, and how he made it better for everyone involved.

Todd Tobias (789 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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7 Responses to Hank Stram Didn’t See Black or White

  1. John Spoulos says:

    Great piece on Coach Stram. He is up there with all the great coaches. The moving pocket, play action, huge lineman, small backs like Nolan Smith. stacked linebackers behind lineman and two tight ends. Can’t think of a more innovative less appraciated coach in football. I appreciate Coach Stram!!

  2. Scott Matteson says:

    Lloyd Wells is the only scout in the AFL Hall of Fame

  3. chris burford says:

    Hensy wasn’t afrad to experiment and he had the personnel to do it….Klosterman and Wells supplied most the great talent and Hank put them to work….appreciate him more and more as time goes on..

  4. chris burford says:

    make that Henry! (guess some of the synapses are slowing……….)

  5. Jeff says:

    Don’t forget he was also the only 3 time AFL championship coach!

  6. Howard says:

    Howard Cosell would call Stram the “diminutive and dapper one”! He was a unique figure in sports. His wired commentary from Super Bowl IV made him larger than life.

  7. Virgil Baldon, Jr. says:

    As a young African-American kid, I clearly saw the differences between the AFL and NFL besides the number of Black athletes in the league. My dad used to call my uncles to the TV set (I’m 59 and I remember the AFL on the new Louisville ABC UHF station!) whenever Gene Mingo of Denver or Herb Travenio of San Diego kicked extra points and field goals, and when Garland Boyette of Houston played MLB a couple of years before Willie Lanier was drafted…it just so happened that Dad kicked and played inside LB in his playing days, and these players at those positions meant the AFL was “the new day” in sports.

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