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Hank Stram
Head Coach
Personal information
Date of birth: January 3, 1923(1923-01-03)
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Date of death: July 4, 2005 (aged 82)
Place of death: Covington, Louisiana
Career information
College: Purdue
Debuted in 1960 for the [[Dallas Texans]]
Last played in 1977 for the New Orleans Saints
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
  • 1968 PFW AFL Coach of the Year
  • 1968 UPI AFL Coach of the Year
  • 3 x AFL Championship winner (1962, 1966, 1969)
  • World Champion and Super Bowl winner (IV) (1969 season)
  • Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame
  • 131-97-0 (Regular season)
  • 5-3 (Post season)
  • 136-100-0 (Overall)
Career NFL statistics as of 1977
Win-Loss Record     131-97-10
Winning %     .575
Games     238
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Henry Louis "Hank" Stram (January 3, 1923–July 4, 2005), was an American college and Professional Football coach. He is best known for his fifteen-year tenure with the American Football League's Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs and the Chiefs of the NFL. Stram won three AFL Championships (more than any other coach in the league's history) and Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs. He also coached the most victories (87), had the most post-season appearances (6) and the best post-season record in the AFL (5–1). 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.

Contents

Biography

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Early life and career

Stram was born Henry Louis Stram in Chicago in 1923. 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 US military during World War II interrupting his university career.

He was an assistant football coach for the Boilermakers in 1948-1955 and the head baseball coach from 1951-1955. 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.

Professional football coaching career (1960–1977)

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, Willie Lanier, Jan Stenerud and many others like Johnny Robinson, 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, and were the first professional football team to cover the center with a defensive lineman (otherwise known as a nose tackle).

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, ironically, nine years after Bud Grant, the man whose team his 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's contributions to the game, like those of other AFL pioneers, helped to change the face of professional football.

Dallas Texans

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 remains the longest professional football championship game ever played. Tommy Brooker kicked a field goal after nearly 16 minutes of overtime to win the game for the Texans and stop the Oilers from winning their third straight title.

Kansas City Chiefs

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 31–7 in Buffalo. The Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I with the Packers winning 35–10. Packers coach Vince Lombardi used a short passing game to overcome the Chiefs defense 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 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" and his assessment of the Vikings' ineffectual play: "You can't do that in OUR league!". 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 35–15 loss at home to the same Viking team the Chiefs defeated in Super Bowl IV.

New Orleans Saints

Stram became the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1976, but posted losing records in his two seasons, 4–10 & 3–11. Hampering Stram's efforts to rebuild the typically pathetic 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 addicition which would lead to his trade in 1980 from New Orleans to the San Diego Chargers, the end of his NFL career in 1984, and eventually, 18 months in federal prison.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of his New Orleans tenure was a 27–17 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.

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. As a broadcaster, he was best remembered for his near 20 year stint (beginning in 1978 and lasting through the 1995 season) with Jack Buck on 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 BearsColts 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.

Later life and death

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.

Career highlights

  • 1960 Head Coach Dallas Texans
  • 1962 Dallas Texans AFL champions
  • 1966 Kansas City Chiefs AFL champions
  • 1968 American Football League Coach of the Year
  • 1969 Kansas City Chiefs AFL champions
  • 1970 Chiefs win Super Bowl IV
  • 1971 Chiefs win AFC West
  • 1974 Coaching career ends at Kansas City Chiefs
  • 1977 End of Coaching Career with 134–97–10 record and 5–3 postseason record
  • 2003 Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

See also

References

Internet references

Printed references

  • Hank Stram with Lou Sahadi, They're Playing My Game, Morrow, New York 1986 ISBN 0-688-06080-3
  • Edward Gruver, The American Football League: A Year-by-Year History 1960-1969 McFarland & Company 1997 ISBN 0-7864-0399-3
  • Brad Adler, Coaching Matters: Leadership & Tactics of the NFL's Ten Greatest Coaches Brassey's Inc 2003 pages 56–57 ISBN 1-57488-613-4
  • "Stram gets Texan post", Dallas Morning News December 21, 1959
  • "Texans now rule AFL kingdom", Dallas Morning News December 24, 1962
Sporting positions
Preceded by
First coach
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coaches
1960–December 27, 1974
Succeeded by
Paul Wiggin
Preceded by
Ernie Hefferle
New Orleans Saints Head Coaches
1976–1977
Succeeded by
Dick Nolan
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Wally Lemm
Lou Saban
Weeb Ewbank
AFL Championship winning Head Coach
1962
1966
1969
Succeeded by
Sid Gillman
John Rauch
NFL merged with AFL
Preceded by
Weeb Ewbank
Super Bowl Winning Head Coaches
Super Bowl IV, 1970
Succeeded by
Don McCafferty

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