Some things are simply too good to keep to yourself.

Like the morning conversation I had with former Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans linebacker Walt Corey.

Some things are simply too good to keep to yourself.
Like the morning conversation I had with former Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans linebacker Walt Corey.
Corey was a star before the AFL merged with the more powerful NFL, so the 71-year-old grandfather never got the recognition he deserved.
He was an AFL All-Star and a guy former quarterback Len Dawson called, “A real man’s man. You always knew where you stood with Walt Corey.”
For the past couple of months, I’ve been interviewing former Chiefs and Texans for an upcoming book entitled “For Chiefs Fans Only.”
It’s going to be a fun read as the old timers talk about the glory days of the team and fans of all ages tell why they bleed red and gold on Sundays.
I met Corey a week ago at a Chiefs Ambassadors Golf Tournament and he invited me to his Lee’s Summit home.
When I asked for directions, he turned into a human Mapquest, adding, “Once you’re on my street, you’ll see me on the front porch smoking a cigar.”
I pulled on to his street at 7:30 a.m. and there he was, smoking that big cigar. He offered me a cup of coffee, a vise-like handshake and smile that came straight from the heart.
He still looks like he could kick anyone’s butt who crosses him, and I’d swear his chin is carved from granite.
He was talking on his cell phone to longtime friend and former teammate Smokey Stover.
“Smokey, can you believe it,” Corey asked. “It’s been 50 years since were at Roswell with the Texans. Fifty years …”
He was a member of the Dallas Texans team that came to Kansas City in 1963. He laughs when asked about those early days of the American Football League.
“Hank Stram had coached me when I was at Miami, and he was named the head coach of this team in Dallas,” Corey said as he blew a perfect stream of blue-gray smoke. “I was a free agent and didn’t have many prospects, so I was pretty excited.”
But that excitement turned to nervous anticipation when the team was bused to a military school outside of Roswell, N.M.
“They took 100 guys and came home with 33,” Corey said. “The first day, we had 100 guys and Coach Stram lined us up for one-on-one drills. If you lost, you went home. Period. End of story.”
Corey didn’t go home. He flourished under Stram.   
The coach was so impressed with Corey that he asked him how he had developed such an impressive physique.
“I’d been lifting weights with a friend of mine in Florida,” Corey said. “He was a Mr. Universe and all that stuff, and he showed how important weight training can be.
“Heck, back then no one in the NFL lifted weights. When we got to Kansas City, Coach Stram gave me $500 and told me to go out and buy some weights.
“I went to a pawn shop, bought some weights, and set up the first weight room in the history of the Chiefs.”
Corey’s tales of the early days of the AFL are peppered with laughter.
He never made over $6,500, and totaled $65,000 for his nine years of service to the league.
“I never complained, because back then, no one was making any money,” said Corey, who went on to coach with the Chiefs and enjoyed a remarkable stretch with the Buffalo Bills during their heyday in the early 1990s.
“I was with (Hall of Fame defensive lineman) Bruce Smith one day and he got his paycheck, and I asked him to see it,” Corey said. “He showed it to me – $165,000. And that was for a week.
“Then he told me that was just one of his ‘little paychecks.’ At the end of the season he gets one for $2 million.’ You know what I say to that? More power to him.”
As he puffs away on his cigar and regales with tale after tale, I am impacted by the peaceful surroundings of the man who made his living in such a violent sport.
His lawn is perfectly manicured and features bird houses, flowers and more than 100 trees.
His home is immaculate and features enough family photos to keep Kodak in business for a lifetime.
“I’m a lucky man,” Corey said, as we wrapped up our conversation. “Football provided all this for me. Sometimes, I just sit here and listen to the silence. I look at the yard and the trees and I just smile.”
As he told me that story, I was smiling, too.