Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Abner Haynes has been honored by the University of North Texas with a new Unity Plaza.
When you think of all of the great running backs employed by the Kansas City Chiefs over the years, it’s important to remember that the all owe something to the franchise’s first great back—‚literally the forerunner for them all—in Abner Haynes.
Haynes was the first star running back of the franchise, going back to the days in which the team wasn’t the Chiefs and they were not yet located in Kansas City. Even with the Dallas Texans, Haynes was establishing himself as a beast in the backfield after winning the AFL’s first ever Rookie of the Year award in 1960. From there, Haynes would command the attention of defenses with a hearty 4.8 yards/carry average. Nearly 60 years after he was traded away from the Chiefs, he’s still No. 6 all-time on the team’s rushing yards list with 3.814.
Beyond his impressive pro career, however, Haynes looms as an important figure in Texas sports history. That’s because he and Dr. Leon King were the first Black players to be integrated onto a college football team in the state—at the University of North Texas. On Friday, UNT announced the proposed construction of Unity Plaza, a new area adjacent to other athletics facilities intended to honor the legacy and ambassadorship of these two men. The entire project is set to cost $220K and you can see renderings of the Unity Plaza here.
The Chiefs eventually traded Haynes to the Denver Broncos, of all teams, after the 1964 season and he would go on to play two seasons for them before also earning time with the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets in 1967.