Gladiator

01/01/2005

 

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"Bobby Lee," Warmath told his star pupil one day, "you don't know it yet but you're going to be an All-America tackle in the next year or so."

"I'm a quarterback, you know that, " Bell responded. "Besides, no one can make me into All-America at any position."

"Just you wait and see," Warmath held firm.

Bobby didn't even know how to get into a lineman's stance to begin with, but he learned in a hurry, and he did win All-America acclaim both as a junior and as a senior. In 1962, he won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top collegiate lineman.

It was assumed that Bell would turn pro with the local Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League even though he was also drafted by the Chiefs and sought after by Winnipeg of the Canadian Football League. Kansas City was so convinced this would be the case that it didn't even bother to draft the prized prospect until the seventh round. Then contract talks began and Bell soon became one of the AFL's first really big prizes in the inter-league war.

"Kansas City made a better offer," Bell explained to unbelieving NFL advocates. "I liked the way the club treated me. Don Klosterman (player personnel director) understood that I was hard-pressed for time because of my studies and so he contacted me only once. I appreciated that. Minnesota and Winnipeg people tailed me constantly. I resented the intrusion."

Bell undoubtedly would have been an outstanding player on the strength of his God-given talents alone. What made him stand out from the crowd was his superior approach to the game, a willingness to play anywhere even when he was injured and his great joy at just playing the game.

"Attitude-wise, Bobby was a rookie all the years he played for us," Stram summarizes. "I think if you had a team full of Bobby Bells, you'd want to coach forever and you'd win forever'"

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