Jan. 11, 1970; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stram gets a victory ride after defeating the Minnesota Vikings during Super Bowl IV at Tulane Stadium. The Chiefs won the game, 23-9. Mandatory Credit: Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports

Hank Stram Is The NFL's 16th Greatest Coach


All I know of former Kansas City Chiefs head coach, Hank Stram, is what I’ve seen on tape and what I’ve read.

Earlier this month, I turned 30. The first Chiefs coach I really remember is Marty Schottenheimer. Marty, Marcus and Joe are the reason I became a Chiefs fan, despite growing up smack in the middle of Browns and Steelers country. I was fortunate to grow up watching Hall of Famers, both on the field and on the sideline. I have been unfortunate, however, in that I was not alive to see the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV, led by the colorful Hank Stram.

ESPN is counting down the greatest coaches in NFL History (because lists and countdowns are just about all there is to do in May) and Hank has come in at #16.

Jeffri Chadiha has a really terrific article on Stram, who was an innovator and leader in more than just football.

It wasn’t easy for a white man with ample power to connect with black athletes in Kansas City. Most of the African-Americans who played for the Chiefs in the 1960s had known each other for years. They’d competed against each other at historically black colleges in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and developed a deep camaraderie. They knew the only way to deal with racism at the time was to band together. For most, Stram was the first white man they had ever called coach.

Those players — including future Pro Football Hall of Famers Thomas, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan and Willie Lanier — believed in Stram not only because he saw their potential. It was because he also saw them as people. Stram didn’t merely want his black players hanging with one another while the whites did the same. He wanted them all to know each other, to understand what made them different and also what made them similar.

Be sure to check out Chadiha’s thoughtful article on Stram.

Since we are remembering great men and women on this Memorial Day, I thought I’d put the call out to all you Chiefs Old-Timers and ask you to tell us a little bit about your memories of Hank Stram and what you think it was that made him a great coach.

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  • GrouchyChiefsFan

    I was born 5 months after our only Super Bowl win. So, I almost feel like this 42 year old drought is all my fault. Even though I wasn’t around, I really appreciate what Hank and these guys accomplished. Just think, if it wasn’t for them, all we would have to “brag” about is an AFC Championship loss in 93. Yikes.

  • chiefdeorty

    JAN. 11 1970 was my birthday I had just turned 13, this day I consider as the day I got the greatest birthday present I ever got. While I grew up in old municipal stadium because my mothers boyfriend had season tickets I got to see all the great players of the past glory years up close in person. Though I only ever got one autograph it was from Len Dawson at the old municipal airport when they just got back home after beating the faiders, you know the game when Otis Taylor beat up Ben Davidson for pile driving Lenny. You had to of watched the game to be able to see this because they don’t show the fight on the replays on those shows about the season the Chiefs had that year, it was GREAT. I was at the longest game in football history with my friend named Donald Cloe. I don’t think he would mind me mentioning his name because he has told me that people have not believed his story. I know this is like bragging because not a lot of people can say the same things as I could, but this was asked for so now you opened up the door. I bleed Chiefs or red & glod as some put it. Hank Stram Was the first to put the D tackle over the center today we call that a nose tackle, maybe that’s because he had a guy like Curly Culp. I know this I went to Chiefs games before I really had much of a memory because my mom was a die-hard Chiefs fan the day they moved here from Dallas and so were my older sisters. It was a great time to be a kid back then I had it pretty good for a Chiefs fan growing up. I know a lot of you guys that love the Chiefs today it is great being a Chiefs fan, but know this back then they always said the road to the championship runs through KC. So be proud and have a great time being a Chiefs fan because we are the greatest team to ever come out of the AFL.

    • steve james

      Paddy find some footage of that beat down! I have to see it. Thanks for sharing your memories. I know Hank is and will always be a huge part of the Chiefs pantheon. I do hope however that Reid can surpass him. As pumped as I have ever been for the Chiefs this year. I know realistically it will most likely be at least a season or two for things to truly gel and reach their full potential but man I can’t wait for the surprise we should heap on the NFL this year.

      • chiefdeorty

        I am so ready for this year I don’t know for sure but if we can stay healthy who knows how high this team can go. We have a lot of hungry players on this team, the ones left over I think are ready for some redemption. Alex is so ready to prove his worth I believe we got something really brewing in KC. As far as that fight I think you would have to get the game tape to see it. I know when they have that show on about the old Chiefs they say they lost the game tape but I’m not sure if they are talking about the AFL championship game or if it’s another game, just not sure. It would be nice to see all those old games again, we had some really good teams back then. Len had such bad knees back then and he missed some games and when he did most of the time we did not have the best back ups. Ever heard of Jackie Lee? That’s my point we even had the faiders old coach as a back up the year we won the SuperBowl. Hey before there was Donte Hall there was the super nat or Nolan Smith!

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Awesome story.

  • jimfromkcj

    Stram came from a time when coachs were not copy cats like they are today. They were innovators who were constantly trying to find new ways of doing things. Stram was the first to use the moving pocket where they moved the pocket either to the right or the left to delay the blitz from getting to the QB. He also stacked the defence to keep offensive linemen from getting into the second level as easily. The linemen would rise on the count before going into their final set, which I think they outlawed. Guys who were his contemporaries also were doing their own individual things and one of the greatest was Al Davis who took the verticle game to new levels and emphasized speed instead of the old cloud of dust type of football that was a throwback to earlier times. There was my favorite, Don Coryell who’se teams from his days as a college coach to his days as the St Louis Cardinals days and his time as the Chargers coach played the most exciting football ever. Today, I think there is a trend to getting back to some exciting football by bringing in college coachs instead of the constant musical chair type of recycling coachs the league has been doing.. Wished the Chiefs would have been as bold as some of the other teams in the league.

    • steve james

      They tried bold with Haley. I do think without Pioli Haley might have done better but he made his own bed mostly.

      • jimfromkcj

        Steve, I can’t agree that Haley was a bold move. I think it was a move of necessity for Pioli. He was wanting someone from the Parcells Belechick tree and wanted the goofball that Denver hired, but he was already hired before he could get him. I can’t think of a single new idea from Haley.

        • steve james

          Well you are right there, glad we dodged that bullet. Thing is I bet half the folks on here would have been stoked to get Tebow at the time.(assuming he would have still drafted him here) Don’t get me wrong I like Tebow as an upstanding man living his faith but I think it has been shown he is not a good NFL quarterback.

  • jimfromkcj

    I guess that I gave Hank’s positives and should tell about what I think was his most negative trait. It was loyalty, I know most would consider that a positive, but in Hank’s, it was a negative. Why? Because he let his team grow old, and I don’t know if it was because he couldn’t cope with the rules of the NFL or not. When the team was being built he didn’t have to compete with the old NFL teams, he just had to compete with the New AFL teams and there was just not that many of them. Then it was just a money thing if he chose a player who was also picked by an NFL team. Hunt had deep pockets and the NFL owners were a miserly lot for the most part. As much as I liked Lenny Dawson, Stram kept him as the starter much too long as well as several others. He also got out coached by Shula in the longest game we have ever played. But all in all he deserves to be recognized as a great coach. His positives much outweighed his negatives.