Pro Football Hall of Fame Presents Countdown to Canton on Sirius NFL Radio. Listen each Friday morning from now through Enshrinement Day on August 8. Hosts Bob Papa and Randy Cross welcome a different Hall of Fame legend each Friday at 10 Eastern to talk some football. Don’t miss as these football greats share stories from their careers, to what it was like on their induction day, and a personal perspective on the Hall’s newest class – Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr. and Rod Woodson.
Stop by Profootballhof.com each week leading up to Bob and Randy’s interview. We’ll take a look back at that week’s featured Hall of Famer and recount his enshrinement day. The Hall’s research staff will also dig into the archives and hone in on events that helped shape the careers of these Hall of Fame legends.
This week’s guest: BOBBY BELL, Class of 1983
Teamwork pays off
“This team had a lot of young potential talent with the coaching of Hank Stram,” reflected Bell about the man who presented him that day. “It was natural for Hank Stram, the style and development of players. It came with unity and room to improve.
Team unity was a trademark of the Kansas City Chiefs teams during the 1960s. So, it came as no surprise that Bobby Bell touched on that theme during his enshrinement speech delivered from the front steps of the Hall of Fame on July 30, 1983.
“Excellence on and off the field was expected and nothing less; and we did it too, as an individual and as a team.”
That teamwork not only resulted in the Chiefs winning more games than any other team in the 10-year history of the American Football League but also earned Bell and several of his teammates a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Team founder and owner Lamar Hunt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 and Coach Stram in 2003. But, it was Bell who was the first Chiefs player to find his way to Canton. He was followed by linebacker Willie Lanier (1986), quarterback Len Dawson (1987), defensive tackle Buck Buchanan (1990), placekicker Jan Stenerud (1991), and cornerback Emmitt Thomas (2008).
Bobby Bell started his pro football career as a defensive end, a position at which he won the Outland Trophy given to the best college lineman in the nation. In 1964, he was named All-AFL as a defensive lineman but switched to linebacker as part of Stram’s “stack defense” the following season.
Bell’s size and superb speed made him an ideal outside linebacker in the Chiefs’ dominating defense of that era. Bell was able to roam the field from that position and as a result amassed 26 interceptions. He returned six of those for scores.
In all, Bell found the end zone nine times during his Hall of Fame career. Aside from the half dozen interceptions returned for touchdowns, he also scored a pair of TDs on fumble recoveries.
His other career touchdown came when he recovered an onside kick against the Denver Broncos on Thanksgiving Day 1969. The play happened in the closing moments of the Chiefs’ 31-17 win. Bell scooped up Bobby Howfield’s onside kick attempt and raced 53 yards for the score. It marked the end of a long day for Howfield who had missed four field goals during the game.
“They couldn’t have kicked to a better man,” commented Stram on Bell’s onside kick recovery. “He fielded the ball like a shortstop and was off and running.”
Bell also was the Chiefs’ leading tackler in the win with five solo tackles and three assisted tackles.
More from Profootballhof.com
Bobby Bell’s HOF Bio
Team Histories – Broncos | Chiefs
Thanksgiving Day games, 1920-2008
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