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Stinger
09-08-2006, 12:49 PM
A family affair

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For Bobby Bell, life with the Kansas City Chiefs was ... Legendary outside linebacker honored at 2006 NFL Kickoff Luncheon.

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Kyle Neddenriep (knedden@news-leader.com)
News-Leader

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Bobby Bell almost didn't tell the story. Judging by the laughter and applause from those who stayed to the end of his induction speech on Thursday at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, they were happy that he did.

With former Kansas City Chiefs' teammates Willie Lanier and Curtis McClinton at his side, family --not only with his former teammates, but the old American Football League --was a common theme in Bell's induction as a Missouri Sports Legend at the 2006 NFL Kickoff Luncheon.

The legendary outside linebacker gave some amusing insight into how he inauspiciously began his professional football career.

Drafted out of the University of Minnesota in 1963 by the then-Dallas Texans the AFL franchise moved to Kansas City later that year --Bell met with owner Lamar Hunt while both were in New York City.

"He picked me up at the airport and the toll was 15 cents to get downtown," Bell said. "We came up to the booth and I'm sitting there with my hands in pockets. Lamar asked me if I had 15 cents to pay for the toll so I gave it to him. I should have known something was wrong right then.

"Then we drove to the hotel and he was walking around the cab. I was sitting in the car. He knocks on the window and I roll it down. He says, 'Bobby, you got any money on you?' I paid him, but said 'Uh-oh.' I called my coach back in Minnesota and said 'Oh man, did I make the right decision?' He asked what was wrong and I said, 'Man, Lamar is broke!' "

Thankfully for the Chiefs' franchise, Hunt wasn't completely broke. Bell persevered, eventually becoming a menace to any running back or quarterback in his path from 1963-74 with Kansas City.

He played in the first Super Bowl --"I couldn't believe people would pay $7.50 for a ticket," Bell said --losing to Green Bay. A year after the New York Jets of the AFL shocked the Indianapolis Colts of the stodgy NFL, Bell starred on a Chiefs' team that defeated Minnesota 23-7 in Super Bowl IV.

That game is still a source of pride for Bell, who said the entire AFL --including Oakland --is like a family even to this day.

"You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us," Bell said. "We weren't making much money back then, but the AFL gave us a chance. A guy like Lanier wouldn't have had the chance to play middle linebacker in the NFL, where they didn't think black players could play that position."

The names "Bell" and "Lanier" are still held in reverence by Chiefs' fans, who look back at that period in the franchise's history as a golden era.

Though the faces in the front office have changed through the years, Bell said he's always been welcome around Arrowhead Stadium.

He is a member of the Kansas City Ambassadors, a group of retired players who help ease the transition for new players in town.

"You look around at some of the guys that I played with, guys like Curtis McClinton, who have stayed in Kansas City after their career and made it a home," Bell said. "We try to make the current players feel the same way and get them involved in the community. It all started with Lamar Hunt and Coach (Hank) Stram. They created the family."

Bell said he is encouraged by the hire of Herm Edwards, a defensive-minded coach on a team that has been lacking on that side of the ball for the past few years.

"That was a good move," Bell said of the coaching hire. "Herm is a guy who has played the game so he relates to the players. They've needed a couple guys the last few years who can make something happen. The quarterback should be nervous about that guy on the other side of the line looking back at him."

Sort of like Bell was in his heyday. Of course, it all might not have happened had he acted on his instinct at the time and tore up his contract with Hunt and his AFL team.

When Bell turned 60 in 2000, he received a birthday card from Hunt.

There was 15 cents taped inside," Bell said, drawing a laughter and applause from the crowd. "I said, 'Man, he must have got that 15 cents from somebody else.' "


LINK TO STORY (http://http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060908/SPORTS0304/609080388/1002/SPORTS)

DMAC
09-08-2006, 01:01 PM
I knew I would see that in the paper when I heard him tell that story.

ChiTown
09-08-2006, 01:07 PM
Bobby Bell is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet.

Great guy. Now, Willie Lanier...............not so much, at least the times I've been introduced to him.

DMAC
09-08-2006, 01:10 PM
Bobby Bell is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet.

Great guy. Now, Willie Lanier...............not so much, at least the times I've been introduced to him.Willie talks like he is an "ACTOOORRR!!"

Rain Man
09-08-2006, 01:26 PM
Cool story.

I keep meaning to read Otis Taylor's book, and I always forgot about it when I'm in a bookstore. Did anyone around here read it?

StcChief
09-08-2006, 01:38 PM
Bell is class act, met him once at Ambassaders tent pre-game.

tomahawk kid
09-08-2006, 02:23 PM
Bobby Bell is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet.

Great guy. Now, Willie Lanier...............not so much, at least the times I've been introduced to him.


Ditto.

He and Trent Green are probably the nicest professional athlete's I've met.

tomahawk kid
09-08-2006, 02:24 PM
Cool story.

I keep meaning to read Otis Taylor's book, and I always forgot about it when I'm in a bookstore. Did anyone around here read it?

Yeah. It's a decent read.

Gives you an inside peak at the Chiefs of that era as well as the racially charged environment of KC in the 60's.

DMAC
09-08-2006, 02:26 PM
The induction was more of a thank you to Lamar from Bell, McClinton and Lanier.

If it wasn't for Lamar, they wouldn't be here. And so on.

ChiefsCountry
09-08-2006, 02:27 PM
Ditto.

He and Trent Green are probably the nicest professional athlete's I've met.

Gary Spani is another one who is really nice as well. Kind of weird seeing our linebackers as really nice guys.

tomahawk kid
09-08-2006, 02:30 PM
Gary Spani is another one who is really nice as well. Kind of weird seeing our linebackers as really nice guys.

It really is.

You think they'd be some pretty nasty dudes.

DMAC
09-08-2006, 02:31 PM
It really is.

You think they'd be some pretty nasty dudes.Well, come on, they are all 65 now.

milkman
09-08-2006, 10:36 PM
A year after the New York Jets of the AFL shocked the Indianapolis Colts of the stodgy NFL

I know it's a minor detail, but the Baltimore Colts lost that SB.

Phobia
09-08-2006, 10:57 PM
Bobby Bell is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet.

Great guy. Now, Willie Lanier...............not so much, at least the times I've been introduced to him.

Which is why I always call Willie by some other name than his own. I think he's catching on.

Rain Man
09-08-2006, 11:02 PM
I know it's a minor detail, but the Baltimore Colts lost that SB.


That's funny. I hadn't noticed that.

Mosbonian
09-08-2006, 11:30 PM
Bobby Bell is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet.

Great guy....

I met Bobby Bell many years ago when I worked for King Louie International. Alex George was our PR person, and for those who probably don't recognize that name, he was just as big a celebrity in KC during his time. Alex knew all the Chiefs and Royals..and a large number of other non-sports celebrity.

One day Alex calls me from his office and wants to know if I'd like to go to lunch with him and a close friend. Little did I know his "close friend" was none other than Bobby himself. I fully expected to be sitting at the table just an interested and unspoken bystander.....but to my surprise I wasn't. It's one of the few times that I have eaten with a "celebrity" and not felt like I was just along for the ride.

Funny thing....I ran into him about a month later and he actually called me by my first name. Made all my buddies envious...

mmaddog
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