As The Chancellor of Football, it’s imperative the history of the NFL and AFL is preserved and showcased for future generations. A best friend to Taylor Blitz Times has been Chris Burford. Not only was he the starting wideout for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I, he was the first player signed in the history of the American Football League. He also suggested a great book to me last year. The Ten Gallon War which covered the days when the Chiefs / Dallas Texans battled the Cowboys for the heart of Dallas.
At the end of the highlight for Super Bowl I, he’s the one who puts on the Cowboy hat and heads out as John Facenda’s voice offers “In another year it will be the turn of the AFL. But this first spectacle of a sport belonged to Green Bay.”
These words echoed in my mind when Chris commented on an article which was the earlier incarnation of one I did on the ’66 Chiefs here.
“The major press were all in the NFL’s corner and denigrated our teams throughout the 60′s…however, when all was said and done after 10 years and 4 Super Bowls, the score was AFL 2 NFL 2…..(Chiefs 1-1), and the football world knew we could play with or against anybody….was a great time in pro football and a joy to have played in the AFL, from the beginning and through the emergence of the league….John Facenda, the Sabol’s, Pete Rozelle, Sports Illustrated, and the NFL propaganda machine notwithstanding.”
Full comment and original article here.
I thought it would be fitting to share with Chris one of my older archives where the late Steve Sabol had the late John Facenda narrate The History of The AFL. It’s told in a very respectful vain. The importance of this is even in the highlight for Super Bowl III, NFL Films narrated it with an NFL slant. Steve Sabol some time around 2000, later apologized for it. Going over the top about “One more moment for the master”- John Unitas trying to bring the Colts from behind instead of focusing on Joe Namath, the AFL, and the Jets victory. Which further validates Chris’ point.
So without further adieu lets take you back to this gem recorded in 1987 yet was produced in 1982.
Unfortunately I started two a day practice and didn’t get the other two shows recorded. What most folks don’t understand is there is still a battle between the AFL and NFL. For those that were there, some like Al Davis, didn’t want a merger. Others went on yet have their memories intact of the 10 year war and are fighting to be remembered and recognized. How the late DE Jerry Mays and FS Johnny Robinson were on the All Time AFL team, yet not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, are glaring omissions.
Websites like mine and Todd Tobias’ Tales From The American Football League and esteemed AFL historian Ange Coniglio’s Remember The AFL do what we can to recognize these players. Remember the AFL has a permanent link on the left side bar for easy access. I know this doesn’t totally make amends Chris but something I wanted to share this Memorial weekend.
Postscript: 3, December 2019: Last August, the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted Kansas City Chiefs great FS Johnny Robinson (finally) for his contributions to pro football back in the American Football League. An honor long overdue and ironically every time Chris would interact and talk about great players of the past, not one conversation would go by without mention that Robinson belonged in Canton. Not one.
I was unable to attend the PFHoF ceremony in 2019 however I did run into Robinson’s teammates and fellow Hall of Famers Willie Lanier and Emmitt Thomas after the 2018 Gold Jacket Dinner in Canton.
On the day Robinson was to receive his Hall of Fame ring during a half time ceremony earlier this year, here is what graced the PFHoF Instagram page:
Congratulations Johnny Robinson on your Hall of Fame Induction!! Taylor Blitz Times salutes you.
Again Chris it doesn’t totally make amends but know you pioneers haven’t been forgotten. Raising a glass to toast you all.
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