Hank Stram was an assistant coach at the University of Miami in 1959 when Lamar Hunt hired him as the first head coach of the Dallas Texans (the Texans moved to Kansas City in 1963 and were renamed the Chiefs) of the new American Football League.
The young coach was an immediate winner in Dallas and won the 1962 AFL championship. He went on to become the only coach in AFL history to take his team to two Super Bowls, losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I and defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. His 23-7 Super Bowl IV victory over the Vikings not only spotlighted his powerful team, it gave credibility to the entire AFL.
During the 10-year history of the AFL, Stram’s Texans/Chiefs won more games than any other AFL team and more championships than any other coach (1962, 1966, 1969). He also led the 1971 Chiefs to an AFC Western Division championship.
An innovative coach, Stram developed or utilized such things as the “moving pocket,” which used the talents of his quarterback Len Dawson. He devised a two-tight end offense – it provided an extra blocker and slowed down the pass rush. On defense, he made famous his “stack defense,” with linebackers stacked behind down linemen. Whether he used a 3-4 defensive alignment or a 4-3, Stram differed from other coaches of that day by always having a man head-up on the center.
An excellent evaluator and developer of talent, five players from the Stram-coached Chiefs are members of the Hall of Fame, including Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Dawson, Willie Lanier, and Jan Stenerud. Lanier, Bell and teammate Jim Lynch were considered by many to be the best linebacker trio of that era.
During his 17 seasons as coach of the Texans/Chiefs (1960-1974) and the New Orleans Saints (1976-1977) Stram compiled an impressive 131-97-10 regular-season record and was 5-3 in the post-season. He was named American Football League Coach of the Year in 1968.