Thursday Tribute: Bobby Bell

An unlikely choice helped lead the Chiefs organization to newfound heights.

Prior to his arrival to Kansas City, linebacker and defensive end Bobby Bell turned some heads when he signed his first professional football contract.

Bell was drafted in the second round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Assuming he would sign with them, the Chiefs drafted Bell in the seventh round of the then American Football League Draft.

After his stellar collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, which saw Bell win a national championship, become a first-team All-American, and become a Heisman Trophy finalist, Bell was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Even after all the connection familiarity to the Minnesota area, Bell decided to sign with the Chiefs and compete in the AFL. As a Chief, Bell would go on to dominate and reach heights no player in franchise history did prior to him.

After starting his first two seasons on the defensive line, the Chiefs moved his athletic 6’4″ frame to linebacker. This is where he would strive, and go on to accomplish things that still haven’t been beaten today.

This position change came in the 1965 season. Bell was named a First-Team All-Pro six consecutive times from 1965 to 1970, according to Pro Football Reference. The first five selections were in the AFL, the last selection came in the Chiefs first season in the NFL.

Bell also has the most pick-sixes in linebacker history with six touchdowns. Linebackers Derrick Brooks and Karlos Dansby have tied the record, according to Statmuse.

Winning, of course, followed this continued dominance. The Chiefs would win two AFL Championships, the last championship won in 1969 created a matchup against the Vikings who Bell chose not to sign with.

The Chiefs would win their first world championship after a dominant defensive performance led by Bell. The Vikings were held to just seven points as the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Bell totaled 26 interceptions by the end of his career. Sadly, we don’t have any confirmed or verifiable tackle numbers to show since the stat wasn’t recorded at the time.

After his playing career, Bell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Reaching the hall of fame status at one level is difficult, but his ability to excel at an incredibly high level in both puts him among the greatest to ever play.

Bell was also the first Chief to become a Hall of Famer after his induction in 1983, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The No. 78 is retired, never to be worn again within the Chiefs organization. The name Bobby Bell is displayed in the Chiefs’ Ring of Honor to highlight his importance.