Willie Lanier, Pro Football Hall of Famer, will likely create a “blitz” of gridiron fans when he visits Talking Stick Resort this Super Bowl Sunday.
The former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker plans on having discussions with attendees and will share “any relevant points of interests they may have as it relates to pro football,” said Mr. Lanier in a Jan. 31 phone interview.
Mr. Lanier may be best known for helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV in 1970, an event he said he still vividly remembers.
“When you have the chance to be the last team standing at the end of the day that Sunday afternoon and being a world champion… you end up being in the history of the league, constantly noted for having achieved that outcome,” said Mr. Lanier.
“Obviously it was a very special reality in the midst of sports and the ever-changing nature of sports,” said Mr. Lanier.
And indeed that world has changed, as Mr. Lanier said that in 1970 the Super Bowl was not considered the spectacle associated with the event today.
Mr. Lanier said the current amount of media coverage and outlets account for individuals viewing the game differently.
The Hall of Famer continues to stay involved in the football community, serving on the NFL Safety Committee.
Mr. Lanier joined after the commissioner asked former players and coaches to gather and tackle ways “to improve the safety of the game, to try to implement rules and concepts in understanding protocols,” he said.
During a game in Mr. Lanier’s rookie year, he suffered a concussion.
The Mayo Clinic ordered neurological testing, and Mr. Lanier, once known as “Contact,” was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma, in which blood seeped into his brain.
From that point forward Mr. Lanier changed his style.
Mr. Lanier made sure that when he was in a tackling position he kept his head and helmet up to “see everything that (I) hit,” thus avoiding further damage.
“I took a proactive approach to the way it needed to be played at a time when I didn’t have all the information they have today,” said Mr. Lanier.
His new style helped him gain a new nickname, “Honey Bear.”
“I would not have been able to play a long career and have any of the great things that have happened for me in the game if I had not changed,” said Mr. Lanier.
Mr. Lanier would play for the Chiefs through 1977, almost never missing a game.
He was inducted into the Professional Football of Fame in 1986.
Mr. Lanier’s “goals” for football are that it is played “in an aggressive, smart, intelligent way, where harm to the opponent is not a part of the game, where the mothers of America can be proud and comfortable with their sons playing and continue to play without the great risk of severe injury.”
North Valley Editorial Intern Brett Nachman can be reached at 602-618-0000 via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/bnachmanreports