Hank Stram

Last updated

Hank Stram
Hank Stram.jpg
Stram from the 1955 Purdue yearbook
Personal information
Born:(1923-01-03)January 3, 1923
Chicago, Illinois
Died:July 4, 2005(2005-07-04) (aged 82)
Covington, Louisiana
Career information
High school: Lew Wallace
(Gary, Indiana)
College: Purdue
Career history
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:131–97–10 (.571)
Postseason:5–3 (.625)
Career:136–100–10 (.573)
Coaching stats at PFR

Henry Louis Stram ( /ˈstræm/ ; January 3, 1923 – July 4, 2005) was an American football coach. He is best known for his 15-year tenure with the Dallas Texans / Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL).

Contents

Stram won three AFL championships, more than any other coach in the league's history. He then won Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs. He also coached the most victories (87), had the most post-season games (7) and the best post-season record in the AFL (52). Stram is largely responsible for the introduction of Gatorade to the NFL due to his close association with Ray Graves, coach at the University of Florida during Gatorade's development and infancy. Stram never had an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, or special teams coach during his career with the Texans and Chiefs.

Biography

Early life

Stram was born in Chicago on January 3, 1923. [1] His Polish-born father, Henry Wilczek, wrestled professionally under the name Stram and the family name was changed accordingly. He later grew up in Gary, Indiana, and graduated from Lew Wallace High School class of 1941. (The football stadium press box was renamed after him in his honor.) He earned seven letters playing football and baseball and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity at Purdue in the 1940s, playing in 1942 and again in 1946 and 1947. Stram served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, interrupting his university career. [2]

Coaching career

Early jobs

He was an assistant football coach for the Boilermakers from 1948 to 1955 and the head baseball coach from 1951 to 1955. In 1996, Stram and Len Dawson were inducted into the Purdue Athletic Hall of Fame. After coaching at Purdue, Stram was an assistant at Notre Dame, Southern Methodist University, and Miami.

Dallas Texans / Kansas City Chiefs

In 1959, Lamar Hunt recruited Stram to coach his Dallas Texans in the new AFL, which commenced play in 1960. Hunt had previously been a bench player at SMU when Stram had been coaching there and the Texans' position had been turned down by Bud Wilkinson and Tom Landry, then an assistant at the New York Giants. The Texans played their first game in the new AFL in September 1960 and proved to be successful from the beginning.

In 1962, the Texans won the AFL Western Division and the AFL championship. The Texans won the championship against the Houston Oilers 20-17 in what was the longest professional football championship game ever played. Tommy Brooker kicked a field goal at 17:54 of overtime to win the game for the Texans and stop the Oilers from winning their third straight title.

The Dallas Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963 and continued their success. In 1966, they won the AFL title again on the back of one of the best defensive teams in the history of professional football featuring three hall of famers and eight all star players. The Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills 317 in Buffalo. The Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I with the Packers winning 3510. To overcome the Chiefs' defense, Packers' coach Vince Lombardi used a short passing game which proved successful, with quarterback Bart Starr becoming the first Super Bowl MVP.

In a 1968 game against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City, the Chiefs entered the game without a healthy wide receiver ready to play. Stram went in to pro football's past and resurrected the T formation. The Chiefs won the game 24-10 running the ball 60 times for over 300 yards while passing only three times for 16 yards.

The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFL championship again in 1969. In Super Bowl IV, his ingenious innovations, the "moving pocket" and the "triple-stack defense", dominated the Minnesota Vikings on both sides of the ball. In the Super Bowl, Stram became the first professional football coach to wear a microphone. Stram's recorded comments from that game have become classics: "Just keep matriculatin' the ball down the field, boys.", "How could all six of you miss that play?""65 Toss Power Trap", "Kassulke was running around there like it was a Chinese fire drill", and his assessment of the Vikings' ineffectual play: "You can't do that in OUR league!". In the clip where he asks a referee "How could all six of you miss that play?" the referee's response leads the confused Stram to mutter, "No. What?" The Super Bowl victory was the second straight by a team from the AFL and added credibility to the newer league, which would complete a planned merger with the NFL the following season.

In 1971, the Chiefs won the AFC Western Division championship. The Miami Dolphins defeated the Chiefs on Christmas Day 1971. The teams played the longest game in the history of professional football. After that, the Chiefs did not enjoy the same success, resulting in Stram leaving the franchise. Stram's tenure in Kansas City ended with a 3515 loss at home to the same Viking team the Chiefs defeated in Super Bowl IV.

Following a 5-9 finish in the 1974 season, which was at the time the worst record in franchise history, Stram was fired.

New Orleans Saints

Stram became the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1976, but posted losing records in his two seasons, 410 & 311. Hampering Stram's efforts to rebuild the typically struggling Saints was a severe elbow injury to quarterback Archie Manning, who missed the entire 1976 season and parts of the 1977 campaign. Stram also had to deal with continuous discipline problems caused by his leading rusher, Chuck Muncie, who was in the early stages of a cocaine addiction which would lead to his trade in 1980 from New Orleans to the San Diego Chargers.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of his New Orleans tenure was a 2717 win over his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, at Arrowhead Stadium in 1976, Stram's first victory with the Saints. The 1977 campaign culminated in an historic home loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were riding a 26-game losing streak over two seasons. Stram took the loss hard; he burned the game film. He was fired after the final game of the season.

Legacy

Stram was an innovator, a shrewd judge of talent, and an excellent teacher. He helped develop Hall of Famers Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Curley Culp, Willie Lanier, Jan Stenerud, Emmitt Thomas, and Johnny Robinson, and others like Ed Budde and Otis Taylor. He was also the first coach in professional football to use Gatorade on his sidelines and run both the I formation and two-tight end offense, still used in professional football today. On defense, the Chiefs employed a triple-stack defense, hiding the three linebackers behind defensive linemen.

He was considered a motivational genius, and his emphasis on the Chiefs' wearing of a patch commemorating the AFL in Super Bowl IV was one of his typical ploys, extracting maximum effort from players who had been derided by proponents of the NFL. Stram was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003, nine years after Bud Grant, the man whose team he had convincingly defeated in Super Bowl IV, had been enshrined. At the Hall of Fame ceremonies, Stram was so weakened by the effects of diabetes that Len Dawson pushed his former coach onto the stage in a wheelchair. Stram's induction speech was then played from a previously recorded videotape.

Stram is the Chiefs all-time leader in wins and seasons coached, despite last coaching the team in 1974.

Stram's contributions to the game, like those of other AFL pioneers, helped to change the face of professional football.

Broadcasting career

Following his retirement from coaching, Stram enjoyed a long and successful career as a color commentator on CBS' television and radio broadcasts of NFL games. Stram began broadcasting games for CBS in 1975, originally calling games with Frank Glieber. After a brief hiatus so he could return to coaching, Stram returned to call games with Gary Bender in 1978. His other broadcast partners were Jack Buck, Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy, Dick Stockton, Tim Brant, Steve Zabriskie, Jim Henderson, Sean McDonough, and Jim Nantz, along with various others. From 1979 through 1989 he also called the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' preseason football games for WTOG-TV in Tampa, Florida.

As a broadcaster, Stram is best remembered for his near-20-year stint (beginning in 1978 and lasting through the 1995 season) with Jack Buck on CBS Radio broadcasts of Monday Night Football games. Stram's key broadcasting trademark was his habit of predicting the next play before it happened.

On January 10, 1982, Stram, along with Vin Scully, called the famous NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. The game in question was immortalized by Dwight Clark's touchdown catch which elevated the 49ers into their first Super Bowl appearance (the first of four during the 1980s).

During a 1988 broadcasting trip to Indianapolis for a Chicago Bears Colts game, Stram collapsed with a severely blocked aortic valve and underwent open heart surgery. He was hospitalized in Indianapolis for a week and later resumed his career with CBS.

He remained a part of CBS' television broadcast team until 1993. His last game as a broadcaster was Super Bowl XXX for CBS Radio in 1996.

Personal life

Stram married Phyllis Marie Pesha in 1953 and they stayed together as husband and wife until his death due to complications from diabetes in 2005. They had six children, four sons and two daughters, including actor Henry Stram. [3]

Later life and death

Stram made a guest appearance as himself on the TV show Coach . In the episode, Stram was attending a coaching convention with fellow coaches Barry Switzer and George Allen. Hayden Fox, the fictional protagonist of the show, also attended the conference.

Hank Stram retired to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he built a home in the town of Covington. He died at St. Tammany Parish hospital in Covington, from complications due to diabetes, on July 4, 2005.

Head coaching record

TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
DAT 1960 860.5712nd in AFL West
DAT 1961 680.4292nd in AFL West
DAT 1962 1130.7861st in AFL West101.000 AFL champions
KC 1963 572.4173rd in AFL West
KC 1964 770.5002nd in AFL West
KC 1965 752.5833rd in AFL West
KC 1966 1121.8461st in AFL West11.500 AFL champions. Lost to Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I
KC 1967 950.6432nd in AFL West
KC 1968 1220.8571st in AFL West01.000Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFL Division Playoff
KC 1969 1130.7862nd in AFL West301.000 AFL champions. Super Bowl IV champions
KC 1970 752.5832nd in AFC West
KC 1971 1031.7691st in AFC West01.000Lost to Miami Dolphins in AFC Divisional Game
KC 1972 860.5712nd in AFC West
KC 1973 752.5832nd in AFC West
KC 1974 590.3573rd in AFC West
DAT/KC Total1247610.62053.625
NO 1976 4100.2863rd in NFC West
NO 1977 3110.2144th in NFC West
NO Total7210.25000.000
Total [4] 1319710.57553.625

See also

Related Research Articles

American Football League Professional football league that merged with National Football League in 1970

The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football league that operated for ten seasons from 1960 until 1970, when it merged with the older National Football League (NFL), and became the American Football Conference. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence. It was more successful than earlier rivals to the NFL with the same name, the 1926, 1936 and 1940 leagues, and the later All-America Football Conference.

Super Bowl I 1967 edition of the Super Bowl

The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, known retroactively as Super Bowl I and referred to in contemporaneous reports, including the game's radio broadcast, as the Super Bowl, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10.

Super Bowl IV Fourth AFL–NFL Championship Game

Super Bowl IV, the fourth and final AFL–NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, was played on January 11, 1970, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs defeated the National Football League (NFL) champion Minnesota Vikings by the score of 23–7. This victory by the AFL squared the Super Bowl series with the NFL at two games apiece as the two leagues merged into one after the game.

Johnny Robinson (safety) American football safety

Johnny Nolan Robinson is a former American football player. He was primarily a safety, but also played on offense as a halfback and flanker early in his career. He played college football at Louisiana State University (LSU) for the LSU Tigers football team.

Lamar Hunt American businessman

Lamar Hunt was an American businessman most notable for being one of the sons of H.L. Hunt. Lamar made a name for himself by his promoting of American football, soccer, and tennis in the United States.

Ten-year AFL patch

The Ten-Year AFL Patch is a shoulder patch adapted for use on American Football League (AFL) team uniforms.

David Lee Grayson was an American football defensive back in the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL) for the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. He played college football at the University of Oregon.

Len Dawson American football quarterback

Leonard Ray Dawson is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) for 19 seasons, primarily with the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. Dawson began his professional career in 1957 with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL and also played for the Cleveland Browns. He left the NFL in 1962 to sign with the AFL's Chiefs, where he spent the last 14 seasons of his career, and rejoined the NFL after the AFL–NFL merger.

Sherrill Headrick

Sherrill Headrick was an American professional football player.

Willie Edward Lanier is an American former professional football player who was a middle linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1967 through 1977. He won postseason honors for eight consecutive years, making the American Football League All-Star team in 1968 and 1969 before being selected to the Pro Bowl from 1970 through 1975.

Bobby Bell American football player

Bobby Lee Bell Sr is an American former professional football player who was a linebacker and defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and was a member of the Chiefs' team that won Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings.

Aaron Brown (defensive lineman) American football player

Aaron Lewis Brown, Jr. was an American football defensive lineman born in Port Arthur, Texas. Brown played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1966 to 1972 and Green Bay Packers from 1973 to 1974. Brown is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota.

Curley Culp

Curley Culp is a former professional American football player. An offensive and defensive lineman, he played college football at Arizona State University, was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion while at ASU, and played professionally in the American Football League for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1968 and 1969, and in the National Football League for the Chiefs, Houston Oilers, and Detroit Lions. He was an AFL All-Star in 1969 and a six-time AFC–NFC Pro Bowler.

The Kansas City Chiefs is a professional American football franchise that began play in 1960 as the Dallas Texans. The team was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), and now play in the National Football League (NFL).

The Chiefs–Raiders rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders. The rivalry between the Chiefs and Raiders is considered to be one of the NFL's most bitter rivalries. Since the American Football League (AFL) was established in 1960, the Chiefs and Raiders have shared the same division, first being the AFL Western Conference, and since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, the AFC West.

Stewart Lynn "Smokey" Stover is an American former gridiron football player. He played College football at Northeast Louisiana State College—now known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe—as a fullback and professionally in the American Football League (AFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a linebacker.

George Anthony Daney was an American football guard. He played college football at the University of Texas at El Paso. He was drafted in the first round of the joint 1968 AFL/NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs National Football League franchise in Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division.

References

  1. "UPI Almanac for Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019". United Press International . January 3, 2019. Archived from the original on January 3, 2019. Retrieved September 3, 2019. football Hall of Fame Coach Hank Stram in 1923
  2. Farmer, Sam (July 5, 2005). "Hank Stram, 82; Won More Games Than Any Other Coach in the AFL". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  3. "Hall of Fame Coach Hank Stram Dies at 82". Associated Press. July 4, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  4. Hank Stram Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com

Sources