Hall Of Fame Coach Hank Stram Dead At 82
Jul 4, 2005, 7:04 PM Hank Stram

NEW ORLEANS -- Hank Stram, who took the Kansas City Chiefs to two Super Bowls and was known for his inventive game plans, died Sunday at a hospital in suburban New Orleans, his son said. He was 82.

Stram had been in declining health for several years and Dale Stram attributed his father's death to complications from diabetes. He died at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, near his home in Covington, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. He had built the home during his two-year stint as coach of the Saints and he retired there.

"Pro football has lost one of its most innovative and creative coaches and one of its most innovative and creative personalities as well," Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt said in a telephone interview.

Stram was the Chiefs' first coach. He took over the expansion Dallas Texans of the upstart AFL in 1960 and coached them through 1974, moving with them to Kansas City where they were renamed the Chiefs in 1963.

The gregarious, stocky, blazer-wearing Stram carried a rolled up game plan in his hand as he paced the sidelines. He led the Chiefs to AFL titles in 1962, '66 and '69 and to appearances in two of the first four Super Bowls, beating Minnesota in 1970.

He was the first coach to wear a microphone during a Super Bowl and Stram's sideline antics, captured by NFL Films, helped bring the league into the video age.

Stram later coached two seasons with the Saints and enjoyed a successful second career in CBS' television and Monday Night Football radio booths as a color commentator.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. The then-80-year-old had to be pushed onto the stage in a wheelchair and his induction speech was videotaped.

Len Dawson, the Hall of Fame quarterback who played under Stram at Kansas City, also called him an innovator.

"He was responsible for doing a lot of the things in the '60s that teams are still using now," said Dawson, citing the moving pocket and the triple stack defense.

"His whole life was football that's what he was born for, I think. He had a passion for it, not just a liking," Dawson said. "He was really sincere when he talked about the team being a family. Everybody really loved him."