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04-11-2005, 12:12 PM
Jerrel Wilson – A Remembrance
Apr 11, 2005, 10:06:27 AM

By Doug Kelly

About two weeks into my tenure as a Chiefs public relations assistant, Jerrel Wilson said, “Son, let me show you where to get a good hamburger.”

I was reminded of that hamburger when I heard that Wilson had died of cancer at age 63 in his native Texas.

I’ll never forget that it was on a Tuesday, back in 1974, the players’ normal day off, and ‘The Duck’ had come to Arrowhead for treatment of an injury. I had happened to venture into the locker room.

As we were soon eating our burgers, from a place not far from the Truman Sports Complex whose name I’ve long forgotten, Jerrel remarked that the place was one that always ‘took care’ of the Chiefs players and staff.

“With what you’re probably making, you need places like this,” he explained. And, as I was earning the princely sum of $9,000 annually, such knowledge came in handy. I’ve never forgotten his small act of kindness, one that was repeated many times over with many different people.

Jerrel played for the Chiefs at a time when punters, and placekickers had much longer tenures with one team than they do today. He joined the Chiefs in 1963 and would remain with the team through the 1977 season, finishing his career with a year in New England in 1978.

One of the keys to his longevity, he felt, was his ability to get under a challenger’s skin when it came to training camp competition.

Sensing that Jerrel might’ve lost a few yards, rookie head coach Paul Wiggin brought in a number of contenders for Jerrel’s job in 1975.

Jerrel’s response? “Well, the way I got ‘em thinking,” he later recalled, “was to ask ‘em if they were inhaling or exhaling when they hit the ball.” The mental gymnastics soon meant all the candidates for his job were waived long before the regular season.

His nickname (”Duck”) came from his intense love of the outdoors, a passion he maintained in his native Texas after his retirement and up to his death. Jerrel, too, was good sized for a punter, one who attacked the football no matter what the situation, but one who could also finesse a kick deep in an opponent’s territory.

“My job is to give our team the best field position I can,” he always said. “Sometimes that means giving up your average, but stats never won football games.”

Wilson’s name is still found throughout the Chiefs record book. He played in more Kansas City seasons, 15, than anyone, and only Nick Lowery’s 212 games played better Wilson’s 203.

He’s tied, with Sammy Baugh, for the NFL record with four seasons leading his league in punting and booted 1,018 balls in his Chiefs career.

Like many of his teammates, he’s left the Chiefs family much too soon. Duck, rest in peace.


Doug Kelly served as assistant director of public relations for the Chiefs from 1974 until 1982.