He was nicknamed “Contact” because of his ferocious tackling. He was the first black middle linebacker in pro football history. In the 1969 Divisional playoff against the Jets, leading 6-3 in the fouth quarter, NY had a first and goal at the KC one yard line. ”They are not going to score!” yelled Contact. “They are not going to score!” Three straight plays later the Jets were held to a field goal. KC scored a touchdown on the next possession, and the road to the Superbowl was paved. The Chiefs went on to beat the Minnesota Vikings in Superbowl lV.
Lanier recalls that he followed the style of tackling at the time which was to use your head to hit the middle of the other players body.
Some say it was to protect Contact, some say it was to protect the opposing players, but for 11 seasons he wore this specially padded helmet created by the Chiefs equipment manager at the time.
While Lanier was a ferocious tackler, he was also fast, agile, and a very civil, disciplined player.
Willie Lanier was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
Want to see where Willie “Contact” Lanier played a good part of his NFL career? Its still there. Waiting patiently for us to migrate to its parking areas for grilling, and fill its seats with red and gold jerseys.
Watch patiently, and you will see Willies name displayed proudly on the “Ring of Honor” .
Next time your eating your popcorn during halftime at Arrowhead, check out the Ring of Honor and remember that guys like Contact bled for the Chiefs and for the NFL.