WILLIE LANIER

WILLIE LANIER

Class of 1986
Linebacker >>> 6-1, 245
(Morgan State)
1967-1977 Kansas City Chiefs

Willie Edward Lanier. . .Chiefs' No. 2 pick, 1967 draft. . .Fast, agile, quick-thinking, anchor of Kansas City's vaunted defense. . . Nicknamed "Contact" because of ferocious tackling. . .Durable, missed only one game his last 10 years . . .Intercepted 27 passes for 440 yards, two TDs. . . Defensive star in Super Bowl IV upset. . .All-AFL/AFC eight times. . . Elected to two AFL All-Star games, six AFC-NFC Pro Bowls. . .Born August 21, 1945, in Clover, Virginia.

Willie Lanier played middle linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs for 11 seasons from 1967 through 1977. As the first African-American to star at that demanding position, he not only was a true pioneer but also the key man on one of the National Football League's strongest defensive teams.

At 6-1 and 245 pounds, he presented an awesome image to any quarterback who lined up against him. He became known and respected for his ability to track down enemy ball carriers and devastate them with the force of his tackles. He was called "Contact" because of his powerful hits on the opposition. Yet he was intelligent and disciplined and obviously much more than just a hitter in his role as quarterback of the defense.

He was All-Pro, All-AFL or All-AFC every year from 1968 through 1975. He was elected to the last two AFL All-Star games following the 1968 and 1969 seasons, and the first six AFC-NFC Pro Bowl games after the merger. He was the defensive MVP in the 1971 Pro Bowl. For a defensive player, he also did well statistically.

Except for his first and last seasons, he intercepted at least two passes every year and wound up with 27 thefts, which were returned for 440 yards and two touchdowns. He also recovered 18 fumbles. Lanier was a two-time Small College All-America at Morgan State. He was a second-round choice of the Chiefs in the 1967 draft and overcame stiff opposition to grab a starting job in the fourth game of his rookie season. He proved to be one of the most durable of all NFL stars of his time. He missed the last four games of his rookie campaign and then sat out only one more game in the next 10 seasons.

Years
Team
G
Int
Yds.
Avg.
TD
FumRec.
Yds.
1967 Kansas City
10
0
0
0.0
0
1
0
1968 Kansas City
14
4
120
30.0
1
0
0
1969 Kansas City
14
4
70
17.5
0
1
5
1970 Kansas City
14
2
2
1.0
0
2
0
1971 Kansas City
14
2
38
19.0
0
3
3
1972 Kansas City
13
2
2
1.0
0
2
0
1973 Kansas City
14
3
47
15.7
1
3
10
1974 Kansas City
14
2
28
14.0
0
2
3
1975 Kansas City
14
5
105
21.0
0
0
0
1976 Kansas City
14
3
28
9.3
0
2
0
1977 Kansas City
14
0
0
0.0
0
2
0
Career Total
149
27
440
16.3
2
18
21
Additional Career Statistics: 1 Safety; Kickoff Returns: 1-1
Full Name: Willie Edward Lanier

Birthdate:
August 21, 1945

Birthplace:
Clover, Virginia

High School: Maggie L. Walker (Richmond, Va.)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 25, 1986

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
August 2, 1986

Presenter:
Lamar Hunt, Owner, Chiefs

Other Members of Class of 1986:
Paul Hornung, Ken Houston, Fran Tarkenton, Doak Walker

Pro Career: 11 seasons, 149 games

Drafted: 2nd round (50th overall) in 1967 by Kansas City Chiefs

Uniform Number: 63

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