This week’s column is unrelated to the law, and instead relates to my lifelong love of the Kansas City Chiefs.
We all know that our beloved Chiefs have been up and down over the course of time, probably more down than up.
In the 1960s, however, we were up, up, up, contending for championships on a regular basis, with two Super Bowl appearances, and a World Championship after the 1969 season.
It was a glorious time to be a young kid who loved the Chiefs, and the stars of those days were bigger than life to me: Len Dawson, Otis Taylor, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Mike Garrett, and Willie Lanier.
And while there were many great Chiefs in those days, none was greater, or more respected and beloved, than Johnny Robinson, number 42, one of the very greatest safeties, perhaps the very greatest, to ever play the game.
He was the glue at the seams of those great defenses that brought the Kansas City Chiefs and the upstart American Football League into the class of elite sports organizations of the time.
Johnny Robinson was a six-time first team All Pro and six-time AFL All-Star over his 11-year career.
He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All Decade Team for the 1960s and the AFL All-Time First Team. He had 57 career interceptions; and was one of the heroes of Super Bowl IV.
And yet, for reasons that remain elusive, he isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He should be.
Johnny Robinson has also led a Hall of Fame life.
After his retirement from pro football in 1972, he founded and operates a home for troubled boys in his home state of Louisiana, and has been a lifelong supporter of children’s causes.
Aside from the numbers, it is the testimony of coaches, teammates, and opposing players that may best define him. Here are just a few:
• “Simply put, Johnny Robinson is one of the greatest safeties that I ever faced. In fact, I can’t think of any that I’ve seen in the 50 years since that have been better.” – Lance Alworth, Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1978 and member of the AFL All-Time Team.
• “Johnny Robinson was a fantastic safety, and really controlled the great Chiefs defense of the 1960s. In fact, the Kansas City Chiefs would not have been the Kansas City Chiefs without him.” – Clem Daniels, AFL career rushing leader and member of the AFL All-Time Team.
• “I would play with Johnny Robinson any day, and put him up against anybody. I put him at the top as a safety. Playing with Johnny was like having a coach on the field.” – Bobby Bell, Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1983 and member of the AFL All-Time Team.
• “Johnny brought class and leadership to the free safety position. He was calm and disciplined and always prepared… He defined the position.” – Tom Flores, 10-Year AFL player and two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach.
• “Johnny Robinson is one of the best to ever play the game… He was a great and honorable player… It was my honor to play against Johnny Robinson.” – Don Maynard, Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1987 and member of the AFL All-Time Team.
• “Johnny Robinson was as complete a safety as ever played. He was as valuable as Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, and Bobby Bell, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.” – Hank Stram, Texans/Chiefs head coach 1960-1974 and Hall of Fame Class of 2003.
• “Johnny Robinson is at the top of my list of all-time admired and revered sports figures. He turns 80 years old this year. He deserves to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is a most fitting honor that is long overdue.” – me.
For lifelong Chiefs fans and AFL aficionados, there is a website you simply must visit: talesfromtheamericanfootballleague.com, managed by sports enthusiast, author, and collector Todd Tobias. There, you can not only be engulfed by a flood of American Football League memories, but you can sign a petition Mr. Tobias has established to support Johnny Robinson’s enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Your support is appreciated.
Note: Quotes and stats compliments of Todd Tobias.
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org