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Original Issue

The Thinker

For years the Chiefs thrived on coach Hank Stram's innovative game plans

HE WAS a roly-poly guy with a toupee and a stunning wardrobe. Patrolling the sideline during the Chiefs' 1970 Super Bowl victory over the Vikings, Hank Stram looked like a nightclub entertainer, snapping off his one-liners. "It's like stealing out there" was his most famous one, captured on film for all time. It was perhaps the eighth time in the game that Len Dawson had thrown the short out pass underneath loose cornerback coverage. The final was 23-7, a huge victory for the AFL, which still had its doubters. It was no contest, the Chiefs running end arounds, big gain after big gain, scoring on a sucker trap. Trick football, smart stuff.

Unique, arrogant, brilliant--that was Stram, who died on Monday at 82 of complications from diabetes. A college assistant for 12 years, he became the Chiefs' first coach, in 1959, when they were the Dallas Texans. In many ways he was ahead of his time. The moving pocket, the two-tight-end set--those were his. The Chiefs' weight-training complex in the early 1970s had the league's most sophisticated facilities. After he left the Chiefs (for whom his record was 124-76-10) in 1974, he coached the Saints for two years and later was a television and radio commentator. "I've lived a charmed life," he once said. "I married the only girl I ever loved and did the only job I ever loved." --Paul Zimmerman




Stram (in 1970) could be arrogant, but his lopsided win record spoke volumes.