Bobby Bell Enshrinement speech

Pro Football Hall of Fame
July 30, 1983

Hank Stram (presenter):
Thank you very much. Bobby Bell # 78, 6'4'', 225, position - quarterback, halfback, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, offensive center, linebacker and that is about all he ever did. Bobby Bell is referred to as a football player. But Bobby Bell was not a football player. Bobby Bell was a man who played football. Football is what he did and not what he was. He was blessed with outstanding skill and ability and I think he was probably the most versatile player I have ever been associated with or anyone has ever been associated with. And without a doubt, the greatest outside linebacker that ever played the game and I certainly believe that. And to demonstrate that point, Bobby Bell is coming in and being inducted in the Hall of Fame today as the first and only outside linebacker to receive the honor so far and that speaks for itself and, of course, the great skill of Bobby Bell.

He was the only player in my 30 years of coaching that had the ability to play any position at a football team and that team would still win. He played for three coaches; his coach in Cleveland High School in Shelby, NC, Murray Warmath the great coach of Minnesota and myself and we all had the same problem. We had difficulty trying to figure out where to play him. The strategy of his high school coach was to start him out as a quarterback and then he moved him to halfback and he made All-State in both positions. Then he went to Minnesota on a scholarship to be a quarterback. He played quarterback for a year and I understand he had the ability to throw the ball 80 yards. The only problem was when he threw it 80 yards the receivers were down about 35 or 40. So it didn't take long for Murray to change him from a quarterback to a defensive tackle, offensive tackle and an offensive center. The first position an award for the outstanding lineman when he graduated from the university of Minnesota where the two Rose Bowl games he was All-American.

We brought him in as a defensive end because we felt we needed help drastically at that spot. He played there for a year and did it very well and then we moved him to linebacker and at that particular time we deliberated really about the fact that he might play a strong safety, a weak safety or even a cornerback. Then he played linebacker. He stayed there and became an All-Pro and was honored in that particular capacity on eight different occasions. He was really something very special and we are all very, very proud in the fact that he did so well. I mentioned the fact that he was a man who played football. He was blessed with the God-given skill and ability but he knew that alone was not enough to get him over the hump. He had to give a lot of credit to his mom and dad and the good Lord. He had to establish an equality, something special to make him the great player and person that he was and actually is.

No. 1 he always had the capacity to see clearly and believe strongly. He thought he could do anything and do it better than anybody else.

No. 2, he had a great attitude. He wasn't a stock market player, be wasn't up or down, he was always the same. He was great. He loved to practice, he loved to play. He had a lot of faults, but he knew when to play and when to work and added a great leadership dimension to our football team.

No. 3, he didn't permit himself to be susceptible to the negative influence of other people. He knew what he wanted and if there was any kind of a problem on the squad he would try to help it and he believed in what he did and what we did and that is why we went on to enjoy the great success and enjoy being one of the winningest teams in the history of professional football during that short span of time. He also had a great capacity to follow through with a resolution once the mood of which that resolution was made had passed. Now a lot of people say I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that and when the time comes, they get out of the mood of what they said they were going to do. Bobby was not that way. Once he made up his mind, he was going to do that, he did it extremely well.

And last, the point I want to make is that he was a make it happen player. He made things happen. He was a big play guy. And how could any of us in the old American Football League and especially the Kansas City Chiefs forget the big play he made against the New York Jets before our Super Bowl win in 1969. We were winning the game 6 to 3, the New York Jets with Namath himself and Weeb Ewbank, They were on the 1-yard line with the score 6-3 in our favor and one yard to go for a touchdown and our great defense rose to the occasion and stopped them. It was second-and-one and we did the same thing. Third-and-one we did the same thing and on fourth and one we called a blitz, Bobby Bell was supposed to blitz from the outside, he got a whiff of the fact that he thought Snow was going to get a pass. he stopped in the middle of the blitz, made Joe Namath deliberate for just a second while he was doing that he gave Namath the sack and we went on to win the game 13-6.

This is one of many, many great plays that he made and just is typical of the made to happen guy he was. As I mentioned, he was involved in a lot of firsts. The first linebacker to be inducted in this Hall of Fame. He also is involved in another first here today in that he is the first American Football League player to have played on an American Football League Championship to earn the double distinction of being able to wear the Super Bowl ring and a ring as a Hall of Famer. Congratulations Bobby and thanks for the distinction and honor of providing me to be your presenter today. I know it is a tremendous day for you, but I want you to know that it is also a great day for the Kansas City Chiefs family, all the great people and all the great fans of Kansas City and every person who had anything at all to do with the American Football League. They swell with pride of the joy and honor and great glory that is yours today along with Sid Gillman. Congratulations, God bless and here he is, Bobby Bell.

Bobby Bell:
Thank you Coach Stram. Your love, faith and comments are deeply appreciated and just your being here means a great deal to me. Thanks again. Hank.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. To be considered to join the elite group of pro football greats is beyond my expectations. To be assured the honor and the true meaning will ever be treasured by me. And also it is known that you do not honor individually, but those many people who made imprints on Bobby Bell's athletic corner. There are many who left their signature on Bobby Bell and shared the corner. Allow me to comment on just a few.

In my home town of Shelby, NC, Willie Casper first introduced me to organized sports competition through the boys club. And it was not football, it was baseball. People helped me a lot, people like Jackie Robinson and Joe Willis. They were examples of people who achieved a lot in sports. True physical achievements to be used by us to set high goals. John Weston, Cleveland Heights School football coach, in Shelby, convinced his athletes, all 12 of us, that physical fitness and fundamentals and over-achievements could be obtained. We went in sometimes losers but always aware of our developments. Leaving the security at Shelby to Minnesota was a traumatic experience. There was no family, no friends and the pace we had to set was demanding. But Coach Murray Warmath knew my concerns and helped weather my problems. With Coach Warmath, it was a never ending battle, it was academic. There was that determination that he instilled into us athletes, student first and athlete second. And we played with so much determination and we studied with that determination. We went to class with that determination, we competed with that determination, and we graduated with that determination. So you cannot be surprised that while on the football field, we played with determination. Another coach there often shared his valuable time with us and was always willing to share my concern and was willing to listen and help us. There was always one thing he told me, Bobby I can read about you in the newspaper but be prepared for life after football. Lilly and Don I am so pleased that you can be here with me today.

Unlike going from Shelby, NC to Minnesota the transition to Kansas City was achieved with more confidence. This team had a lot of young potential talent with the coaching of Hank Stram. It was a natural for Hank Stram, the style and development of players. It came with unity and room to improve. Each game plan was deta1led and complex and yet the figurations were simple. Then being organized in your effort. And we were neat, organized and enjoyed winning games. My association with Hank was a great experience. Excellence on and off the field was expected and nothing less and we did it too, as an individual and as a team.

Shelby is still my home. It is a great place to live and conduct a business. The people are friendly and some of my folks are here with me today and I would like to thank them for coming. Now may I introduce some people I owe so much, my family, would you please stand while I call your name and remain standing from Kansas City, my daughter Tracy, my grandson Freddie, my son, Bobby and my friend Gale Kaughman, my sister from Shelby, Mrs. Mattie Roberts, my mother and father. Thanks for being with me. As I said before there are so many friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, and friends like Joe McGuff, Kansas City Star Editor who elected me and that I was associated with in the past. And the writers from the Pro Hall of Fame Selectors who elected me. They have left their imprint on my personality and my athletic performance. I want all of them to share in this unforgettable experience and honor. Thank you.