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Thursday Tribute

Thursday Tribute: Hank Stram

From being the best dressed to bringing a championship pedigree that sparked a notably passionate franchise.

The sideline footage taken of former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stram is very telling. From his optimistic and confident comments to the countless tie adjustments, Stram flashed with style every game in his full-piece suit.

That flashiness and swagger led to championship success for the Chiefs in his fifteen-year tenure. The first three of those seasons with the then Dallas Texans and then twelve with the Chiefs.

Stram was hand-picked to be the franchise’s first head coach by founder Lamar Hunt. Stram had been an assistant coach in college football for a decade prior to his promotion to professional football.

Stram was the head coach of the new franchise at just 36-years-old. Despite his young age, the team found success early in his time in Dallas.

After an 8-6 and 6-8 record in his first two seasons, they won the AFL championship to finish out the franchise’s brief stint in Dallas before moving to Kansas City.

Once the move and name change happened, the team struggled for the next three seasons, finishing with a combined record of 19-19-2, according to Pro Football Reference.

However like before, Stram would return the team back to another AFL championship the following season. The Chiefs would then get to play in the first Super Bowl and lose to the Vince Lombardi-led Green Bay Packers 35-10.

The team would continue to be successful up to their 1969 season, where they won a third AFL championship in just eight seasons. But the Chiefs still had their most daunting task ahead of them.

The AFL had only beaten the NFL team in the Super Bowl once in the three Super Bowls. That one win came with the New York Jets and Joe Namath upsetting the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

However, the Chiefs were still underdogs against the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. But Stram, along with quarterback Len Dawson, wide receiver Otis Taylor, and defensive end Bobby Bell pulled off the second straight upset for AFL in its last season of existence.

With that win and appearance, Stram would become the only coach in AFL history to appear in multiple Super Bowls. Stram finished coaching with the Chiefs after the 1974 season.

Stram finished with 124 wins, which is still a franchise record today. But Stram’s leadership and success sparked much more than championships.

Without Stram and the early AFL success, the Chiefs fanbase may not be what we see today. Those early years of championship glory helped spark one of the most passionate fanbases in football.

Stram was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003, and his legacy within the Chiefs organization lives on through the ring of honor at Arrowhead Stadium.

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