(Bobby Bell photos courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)
The Talk of Fame Network
When is a Super Bowl victory not the most meaningful win of a season? When it’s the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, that’s when.
That team had one of the most remarkable runs in playoff history. First it beat the defending Super Bowl champion New York Jets … in New York. Then it beat the Oakland Raiders – a club that downed them twice that season – in Oakland. Finally, it beat the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
But that wasn’t the crowning achievement. Not to Hall-of-Fame linebacker Bobby Bell it wasn’t. Nope, that distinction, he said on the latest broadcast of The Talk of Fame Network, went to the playoff defeat of Oakland.
“The thing that people don’t realize,” Bell said, “is that the Raiders beat us twice that year. They beat us out there, and they came to Kansas City and beat us. And coach (Hank) Stram said, ‘Wait a minute, these guys? We’re going to go up and beat the Jets, and we’re going to go out to the Raiders.’ And he said , ‘We’re going to beat these guys.’
“We weren’t going to pass the ball that much. We were just going to run the ball. We had two tight ends and that’s what we did. We just said, ‘We’ve got a better defense, and we’re just going to shut them down.’ And people don’t realize this, but we went out there and we shut them down. And I think that was the big game right there.”
So the credit goes to Stram and his Chiefs for another upset, right? Well, yes … and no, said Bell. They had some help. And that help came from an unlikely source.
Oakland owner Al Davis.
“The result after the game,” said Bell, “was that coach Stram had found out that Al Davis had told the guys to bring their own suitcases to the game and said, ‘We just beat them twice; so we’re going to knock them off. And, guys, just be ready to go. We’re going to go to New Orleans (site of Super Bowl IV) right from here.’
“And Stram found out about it and said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, hold on.’ We got on the bus (afterward), and he wouldn’t let the bus leave. And the Raiders … some of the guys were still in there with their suitcases. And when they finally walked out we, we were still sitting there. And coach Stram … that’s what he wanted us to see; that they had their suitcases.”
Of course, the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry then was intense, with games often punctuated by fights and, Bell said, with Chiefs’ fans upset – no, irate – with Kanas City players if they saw them interacting with the Raiders.
Again, blame it on Al.
“There was something about the Raiders,” Bell said. “I don’t know why. I guess it was Al Davis. He created it, I think. I’ll put it on Al (he laughs). There were a lot of stories about Al.
“Al was leery of coach Stram. We would go out and play Oakland out there. And Stram wouldn’t allow us to go into the locker room until they de-briefed (it). He had Booby Yarborough go out there and pull the roof inside the thing and look for speakers; look for cameras. He thought they had all kinds of stuff in there, wires and stuff.
“One time we went out to play the Raiders, and it hadn’t rained in two months out there. Two months. And we get out there, and the grass is high, and in one end zone it’s setting in two inches of water.”