Willie Edward Lanier (born August 21, 1945) is a former American football middle-linebacker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1967 through 1977. He won postseason honors for eight consecutive years, making the American Football League All-Star team in 1968 and 1969 before being selected to the Pro Bowl from 1970 through 1975. Lanier was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
|Born:||August 21, 1945|
|High school:||Maggie L. Walker|
|NFL Draft:||1967 / Round: 2 / Pick: 50|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Lanier played college football at Morgan State University under head coach Earl Banks where he was twice selected to the small-college College Football All-America Team and was also chosen MVP of the Tangerine Bowl.
Willie Lanier is a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.
On January 15, 1967, the Chiefs lost Super Bowl I to Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers by a 35-10 score, forcing head coach Hank Stram to look for defensive players in the upcoming draft. Stram picked Lanier in the second round, after the team had selected another linebacker, Jim Lynch of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Lynch had been chosen to play in the annual College All-Star Game, causing him to miss the first two weeks of Chiefs ' practice. By the time Lynch made it to camp, Lanier had already established himself as the team's middle linebacker. He joined Garland Boyette of the AFL's Houston Oilers as the first black middle linebackers in professional American football history. In the midst of a solid first season, Lanier suffered an injury and missed the last four games of the year
The following year, Lanier collected four interceptions, then matched that total in 1969 as he helped the Chiefs capture Super Bowl IV with a 23-7 upset of the Minnesota Vikings. Lanier was stellar in the Super Bowl, recording 7 tackles and an interception. Lanier later commented on the increased motivation that Chiefs players felt because of wearing an AFL patch to honor the league's final year.
There were numerous great moments throughout his career, but none exemplifies his heart and desire as much as the Chiefs' goal line stand against the New York Jets in the 1969 divisional playoff game. Trailing 6-3 in the fourth quarter, New York had a first-and-goal at the Chiefs' one-yard line after a pass interference call on Kansas City. It was then that Lanier made an emotional appeal to the rest of the Chiefs defense. "They're not going to score!" Lanier yelled at this teammates. "They're not going to score!" The Chiefs shut down the Jets on three straight plays and held them to a field goal. Kansas City scored a touchdown on its next possession, winning the game, and winning a place in the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs reached the NFL playoffs only one more time during Lanier's career, in 1971, winning the AFC Western Division title. On Christmas Day, in the final contest at Municipal Stadium, the Chiefs' season came to an end against the Miami Dolphins in a double overtime classic. The contest was the longest game in NFL history, clocking in at more than 82 minutes.
In 1972, the Chiefs moved to Arrowhead Stadium, but the change would not serve the team well, since by 1974, the team's talent had been depleted by age and injuries. After the conclusion of that season, Stram was fired after 15 years at the helm.
The linebacking trio of Lanier, Lynch and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Bell is recognized as one of the most talented in professional football history, lasting until the arrival of new head coach Paul Wiggin in 1975.
Lanier was known as Contact, a name coined by Chiefs' teammate Jerry Mays in 1967. As Lanier remembered: "Since I unfortunately followed the style of tackling that we were taught at that time – that was to use your head first of hitting players in the middle of their body. It was done in a rather aggressive manner".
But Lanier's uncontrolled tackling resulted in Chiefs' equipment manager Bobby Yarborough outfitting Lanier's helmet with extra padding. The padding was not on the inside of the helmet to protect Lanier but rather, as some photos of him in uniform show, on the outside of the helmet to protect the player he was tackling.
While renowned for his hitting ability, Lanier was also fast, agile and disciplined, finishing his career with 27 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries.
|Punt Return||Kick Returns|
Willie Lanier received All-Pro (AFL ALL-Star or All-AFC) mention every year, appearing in all-star games from 1968 to 1975 (his first two in the AFL and his last six in the AFC). In 1986, he achieved Pro Football Hall of Fame status.
After Lanier's retirement, the Chiefs retired both Lanier's and Bell's numbers.
Lanier returned to school, taking graduate courses at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. He then returned to Virginia as a stockbroker, at First Union Securities, where he served as vice-chairman. He is the former CEO of TDS/US, the minority venture partner of TDS Logistics (now Syncreon).
The 1966 Tangerine Bowl was an NCAA College Division game following the 1966 season, between the West Chester Golden Rams and the Morgan State Bears. Morgan State linebacker Willie Lanier was named the game's most valuable player.1968 All-Pro Team
This is a list of players named as All-Pros based on their performance in the 1968 AFL and NFL season. These lists provide a perspective into how players were judged against their peers by critics of their time. Players representing both the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) are included.1968 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1968 Kansas City Chiefs season was the 9th season for the Kansas City Chiefs as a professional AFL franchise; They finished with a 12–2 record, resulting in a tie for first place in the AFL Western Division with the Oakland Raiders, before the Raiders won the championship in a tiebreaker playoff, defeating the Chiefs 41–6. A location in Eastern Jackson County was chosen as the site and groundbreaking ceremonies took place in July with plans calling for a unique rolling roof design.
The 1968 Chiefs boasted one of the finest defenses ever assembled by the club, allowing an AFL record (and still franchise-low) 170 points, or 12.1 points per game. The nucleus of the defensive unit was clearly in its prime, producing six AFL All-Stars, including all three of the squad's linebackers.
Offensively, quarterback Len Dawson led the AFL in passing for the fourth time. Guard Ed Budde won the AFL Offensive Player of the Week award for the October 20 game against the Raiders. It was the first time the award was given to an interior lineman.
The Chiefs began the season with a 7–1 record and rattled off five straight victories to close the regular season at 12–2, sharing the division crown with the Raiders and setting up their playoff on December 22, in which the Raiders advanced to the AFL Championship Game against the New York Jets. The loss to Oakland was a major event in the Chiefs' rivalry with the Raiders, one of the NFL's most storied feuds.1969 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1969 Kansas City Chiefs season was the team's 10th, their 7th in Kansas City, and also their final season in the American Football League. It resulted in an 11–3 record and a 23–7 victory in Super Bowl IV over the NFL's heavily favored Minnesota Vikings. The team beat their rivals, the Oakland Raiders in the final AFL Championship Game, claiming their third AFL Championship in franchise history. The Chiefs were coached by Hank Stram, led by quarterback Len Dawson and a powerful defense led by Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Buck Buchanan, Emmitt Thomas, Johnny Robinson and Curley Culp. The Chiefs' defense became the fourth defense in the history of pro football to lead its league in fewest rushing yards, fewest passing yards and fewest total yards. The Chiefs were the second AFL team to win the Super Bowl and last AFL team to do so before the AFL-NFL Merger in the following season.
The season was marred not only by an injury to quarterback Len Dawson but also controversy surrounding Dawson and his purported involvement in a sports gambling ring. Back-up quarterback Mike Livingston and the Chiefs' stellar defense led the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl, this time, to win it all.
Along with owner Lamar Hunt, nine future Hall of Famers were members of the 1969 Chiefs, including QB Len Dawson, LBs Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell, DT Buck Buchanan, DT Curley Culp, CB Emmitt Thomas, S Johnny Robinson, K Jan Stenerud, and Coach Hank Stram.
In 2006, the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs were ranked as the 18th greatest Super Bowl champions on the NFL Network's documentary America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions.In 2007, ESPN.com ranked the 1969 Chiefs as the seventh-greatest defense in NFL history, noting "Hank Stram's 'Triple Stack' defense, which gave the linebackers lots of room to roam, was superb, holding five opponents to fewer than 10 points and giving up an average of less than two touchdowns a game.... Then they got serious. Against the [defending] Super Bowl champion Jets in the AFL divisional playoff game at Shea Stadium, the Chiefs held on for a 13–6 victory, thanks to a remarkable three-play goal line stand that stifled the Jets on the one. After losing twice to the Raiders during the regular season, the Chiefs allowed a single touchdown, in the first quarter, to win the AFL title over Oakland 17–7. The Chiefs defense then stifled the Vikings in the Super Bowl, allowing only two rushing first downs and picking off three passes in the fourth quarter to win 23–7. Total points against the Chiefs in the playoffs: 20." Kansas City is the only team in the Super Bowl era to win the title without allowing as much as 10 points in any postseason game.1971 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1971 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 2nd season in the National Football League, the 9th as the Kansas City Chiefs, and the 12th overall. They improved from a 7–5–2 campaign in 1970 to record a 10–3–1 mark and win the AFC West division championship, the Chiefs' first division title since 1966. The Chiefs tied with the Miami Dolphins for the best record in the AFC and were tied for the third-best record overall in the NFL, trailing only the 11–3 marks of the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings.
Most of the pieces of the team which won Super Bowl IV two years earlier were still in place. Left defensive end Jerry Mays retired after the 1970 season, with Marvin Upshaw taking his spot, but the other 10 defensive starters were the same as they were two years prior. Middle linebacker Willie Lanier was a unanimous All-Pro selection following the season, and would likely have been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year had not Viking defensive tackle Alan Page become the second defensive player to win the league's Most Valuable Player award. Outside linebacker Bobby Bell, defensive tackles Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, and cornerback Emmitt Thomas joined Lanier on the AFC Pro Bowl squad following the season. Bell, Buchanan, Culp, Lanier, and Thomas are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On offense, Robert Holmes was traded to the San Diego Chargers midway through the season, leaving Wendell Hayes to assume the fullback duties next to third-year pro Ed Podolak, who had become the starting halfback when Mike Garrett was traded to San Diego in 1970. Morris Stroud, the tallest player in NFL history at 6-foot-10, and Willie Frazier, acquired from San Diego, alternated at tight end for the retired Fred Arbanas, but the rest of the offensive line, save for center Jack Rudnay, remained the same from the Super Bowl winning team. Rudnay assumed the starting center spot in 1970 over veteran E. J. Holub. At wide receiver, rookie Elmo Wright, the Chiefs' first-round pick in the 1971 NFL Draft from the University of Houston, assumed the slot opposite all-pro Otis Taylor, as Frank Pitts had moved on to the Cleveland Browns. Taylor earned selection to the Pro Bowl, along with guard Ed Budde, quarterback Len Dawson, and tackle Jim Tyrer.
Kansas City's special teams remained among the league's elite units, thanks to the combination of kicker Jan Stenerud and punter Jerrel Wilson, both of whom were named to the Pro Bowl. Podolak and Warren McVea handled the bulk of the return duties.
The season was the last for the Chiefs in Municipal Stadium, as owner Lamar Hunt and general manager Jack Steadman were overseeing the construction of Arrowhead Stadium, located at the junction of Interstate 70 and Interstate 435 in Jackson County, Missouri, at the eastern edge of the Kansas City city limits. Arrowhead, along with Royals Stadium, being constructed for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball, would form the Truman Sports Complex, bucking the trend of multi-purpose stadiums in vogue at the time.
The season ended in heartbreak, as the Miami Dolphins won the longest game in National Football League history on Christmas Day, defeating the Chiefs 27–24 in double-overtime on a 37-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian in the last football game in Municipal Stadium, as well as the last game for safety Johnny Robinson, who was an original member of the Dallas Texans in 1960. Coach Hank Stram often called the 1971 Chiefs the franchise's best-ever squad, and this loss haunted Stram for the rest of his life, even after his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. Stram died July 4, 2005 at age 82. Others who are in the Hall of Fame from this squad are owner Hunt (who died December 13, 2006, at age 74), quarterback Dawson, and kicker Stenerud.
The loss to Miami began a nosedive in the Chiefs' fortunes. Kansas City backslid to 8–6 and 7–5–2 in 1972 and 1973, before falling to 5–9 and a tie for last in the AFC West in 1974, leading to the Stram's firing following the season. Kansas City would not reach the playoffs again until 1986, did not host (or win) another playoff game until 1991, and did not win the AFC West division title again until 1993.1972 All-Pro Team
The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1972. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1972.1972 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1972 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 3rd season in the National Football League, the 10th as the Kansas City Chiefs, and the 13th overall. It would begin with the Chiefs moving into the newly constructed Arrowhead Stadium and ended with an 8–6 record and second-place finish in the AFC West.
The Chiefs introduced the newly completed Arrowhead Stadium to the general public. The last original member of the 1960 Dallas Texans team departed on July 12 when safety Johnny Robinson announced his retirement at training camp. Meanwhile, starting quarterback Len Dawson ended speculation about his retirement by signing a two-year contract. Franchise owner Lamar Hunt became the first AFL figure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 29.After two different construction strikes and a myriad of other delays, Arrowhead Stadium was officially dedicated on August 12, when the Chiefs registered a 24–14 preseason victory against the St. Louis Cardinals. Running back Ed Podolak scored the first touchdown in the facility. Regular season ticket prices for the team's first season at Arrowhead were USD$8 for box seats and $7 for reserved seating.On September 17, the Chiefs lost a 20–10 decision against Miami (the first win in Miami's perfect season) in the first official game at the new Arrowhead Stadium, in front of a crowd of 79,829. A standing-room-only crowd of 82,094 was in attendance for a 27–14 victory against Oakland on November 5, the largest “in-house” attendance total for an NFL contest in Arrowhead's history. After a 5–3 start, a three-game losing streak effectively eliminated the club from playoff contention. An 8–6 record was only good enough for a second-place finish in the AFC West behind Oakland. Linebacker Willie Lanier became the first Chiefs player to receive the prestigious NFL Man of the Year Award in the offseason.In week six, the Chiefs dropped a shocking 21–20 decision at home to the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, who entered the game 0–5 and would win only once more (also a one-point victory over the Houston Oilers, who finished 1–13). It would be the only time the Chiefs and Eagles met until 1992, and Kansas City would never visit Philadelphia before 1998.1972 Pro Bowl
The 1972 Pro Bowl was the NFL's 22nd annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1971 season. The game was played on January 23, 1972, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The final Score was AFC 26, NFC 13. The Kansas City Chiefs swept the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, with placekicker Jan Stenerud named the game's offensive MVP and Willie Lanier selected as the defensive MVP. This was the last NFL game overall played with the hashmarks (also called the inbound lines) set at 40 feet apart (20 yards from the sidelines); the next season, they were brought in to 181⁄2 feet, the width of the goalposts, where they still stand to this day.Attendance at the game was 53,647. Don McCafferty of the Baltimore Colts coached the AFC while the NFC was led by the San Francisco 49ers' Dick Nolan. The referee was Ben Dreith.1973 All-Pro Team
The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1973. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1973.1974 All-Pro Team
The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1974. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1974.1975 All-Pro Team
The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1975. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1975.1977 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1977 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 8th season in the National Football League, the 15th as the Kansas City Chiefs, and the 18th overall. This season was the worst in franchise history until the 2008 season, with the Chiefs winning only two of fourteen games. After an 0–5 start, Head coach Paul Wiggin was fired following a 44–7 loss to Cleveland in week seven. Tom Bettis took over as interim head coach for the rest of the season. The team endured a six-game losing streak to conclude the season at 2–12.1986 Kansas City Chiefs season
The 1986 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 17th season in the National Football League and the 27th overall. It ended with a 10–6 record, the most wins for the franchise since 1971. The Chiefs clinched a wild card playoff berth, but lost to the New York Jets 35-15.
Former linebacker Willie Lanier was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 2. On the field, the pieces started coming together for head coach John Mackovic. His offense displayed plenty of scoring punch, while the club’s defense and special teams became increasingly effective. With the team sitting at 3–3, Bill Kenney replaced Todd Blackledge for the second half of the season in a game against San Diego, guiding the club to a 42–41 victory. That win was the first of four consecutive triumphs with Kenney at the helm, the club’s longest winning streak since 1980. Poised with a 7–3 record after 10 games, three straight losses in November put the Chiefs playoff chances in jeopardy. Two December wins gave Kansas City a 9–6 mark, putting the Chiefs on the verge of their first postseason berth in 15 years.The defining moment of the season came in the regular season finale at Pittsburgh on December 21. Despite being outgained in total yardage by a 515-to-171-yard margin, the Chiefs were able to notch a 24–19 victory as all of the team’s points came via special teams on a blocked punt return, a field goal, a kickoff return and a blocked field goal return. With a 10–6 record the Chiefs earned an AFC Wild Card berth, winning a tiebreaker with Seattle. Bill Kenney was injured in the fourth quarter of the Steelers contest, meaning Todd Blackledge would draw the starting assignment for the club’s first playoff contest since 1971, a 35–15 loss at New York.
Mackovic was fired by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt after the season.Garland Boyette
Garland Boyette was a professional linebacker in the American Football League for the Houston Oilers and in the NFL for the St. Louis Cardinals (1962–63) and the Houston Oilers (1966–72). In 1967, he was the regular starting middle linebacker for the Oilers and joined Willie Lanier of the Kansas City Chiefs as the first African-Americans to play that position in professional football. He played in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes from 1964 to 1965. In 1974, he finished he played for the Houston Texans of the WFL. Midway through the 1974 season the Texans moved to Shreveport and became the Steamer. Boyette finished his career with the Shreveport Steamer of the WFL in 1975. Boyette is the uncle of former Oiler teammate, and San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Ernie Ladd.List of Kansas City Chiefs players
This is a select list of players from the Kansas City Chiefs football team from the National Football League.
For more information, see Kansas City Chiefs.Lloyd C. A. Wells
Lloyd C. A. "Judge" Wells (1924-September 12, 2005), a Texas Southern University graduate, was the epitome of the American Football League's enlightened policies towards recruiting black athletes. Wells, while he was a sports photographer, accomplished the desegregation of fan seating at amateur and professional events in Houston, and was an advocate for civil rights and for black athletes throughout his life.
As a part-time scout for the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, he convinced Grambling defensive tackle Buck Buchanan to sign with the Chiefs in 1963. He also recruited defensive backs Jim Kearney and Emmitt Thomas, and linebacker Willie Lanier. Buchanan, Thomas and Lanier are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After becoming pro football's first black full-time scout, in a famous "babysitting" incident in 1965, he managed to get wide receiver Otis Taylor (Prairie View A&M) away from the NFL's Dallas team. Wells' success was a catalyst for the older league to try to get up to speed in signing talented black players from small colleges, including Historically black colleges and universities as the AFL had done from its inception. Contrary to the popular misconception fostered by the NFL, most of these stellar draft signings did not come after the "Common Draft" instituted with the AFL-NFL merger, but well before that time, in open competition with the NFL.
No less than eight of Wells' recruits made All-AFL during their pro careers. He had a major hand in staffing the Chiefs to enable them to win the fourth and last World Championship Game between the champions of the AFL and the NFL, in which they defeated the Vikings 23-7.Morgan State Bears football
The Morgan State Bears football team competes in American football on behalf of Morgan State University. The Bears compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, currently as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Bears play their home games at Hughes Stadium, a 10,000 seat facility in Baltimore, Maryland.
Morgan State began playing football in 1898, 31 years after the school was founded. The team's all-time record is 405 wins, 379 losses and 38 ties. 173 of those wins came between 1929 and 1959 when Edward P. Hurt was the head coach and the Bears won 14 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championships. Earl Banks won four CIAA championships during the 1960s and an additional championship in 1971 after Morgan entered the MEAC. The Bears have won three MEAC Championships (1976, 1979 and 2014).Ten-year AFL patch
The Ten-Year AFL Patch is a shoulder patch adapted for use on American Football League (AFL) team uniforms.The Black Six
The Black Six (1974) is an American blaxploitation and outlaw biker film released in 1974. The movie was written by George Theakos and directed by Matt Cimber. It starred several National Football League stars in the title roles. The plot had some similarities to The Magnificent Seven and Easy Rider. It was one of the first all-black biker films.
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Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.