"I thought the opportunities would be better in the AFL," explained Buck Buchanan when asked why he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs before entertaining an offer from the rival NFL.
Maybe he was right. The young AFL had, after all, actively recruited players from traditionally overlooked schools like Buchanan's Grambling. Also, the AFL did have the reputation of being an "equal-opportunity" league for African-American players. But in hindsight, there is little doubt that the talented Junious "Buck" Buchanan (born 1940) would have found "opportunity" wherever he chose to play.
"Buck had it all -- size, speed, quickness, and great, great attitude," bragged Chiefs coach Hank Stram. "He gave us the big player and the big personality we needed."
At 6'7" and 287 pounds, and as fast as he was strong, Buchanan quickly became a dominant force with the Chiefs -- and the prototype for future defensive linemen.
Although Buchanan played both end and tackle his rookie season, Stram installed him into his permanent right defensive tackle spot in 1964. Starting that year, he was named to either the AFL All-Star Game or AFC/NFC Pro Bowl eight consecutive times.
As Buck's play improved each year, so too did the Kansas City Chiefs teams that won three division championships, two AFL titles, and Super Bowl IV.
Throughout, Buchanan was a consistent force who made things happen. In 1968, the Chiefs' defense, led by Buchanan and teammate Bobby Bell, held the opposition to a league-low 170 points.
In Kansas City's 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, Buchanan was the key man in coach Stram's "triple-stack" defense, which called for Buck to line up over Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff.
Buchanan so dominated the All-Pro center that he neutralized a prime Minnesota strength, Tingelhoff's blocking of the middle linebacker. This disrupted the Vikings' normal blocking assignments and gave the Chiefs the edge they needed to win the AFL-NFL championship clash.