University of Minnesota
Chiefs Hall of Fame (1980)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1983)
Bobby Bell was the most highly honored college lineman of the 1962 season. His coach at the University of Minnesota described the two-time All-America choice and Outland Trophy winner as “the greatest lineman I have ever seen.”
It’s hard to believe the versatile 6-4, 228-pound Bell actually began his college career as a quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs of the then-young American Football League were so convinced that Bell would sign with the Minnesota Vikings of the rival National Football League that they didn’t even bother selecting him until the seventh round of the 1963 draft. The University of Minnesota star stunned the pro football world when he opted to sign with the Chiefs. Bell began his 12-year career with Kansas City as a defensive end.
He excelled in coach Hank Stram’s “stack defense,” which called for him to drop out of the 4-3 alignment and become a fourth linebacker. In 1965, after winning all-league honors as a defensive end the previous season, Bell was shifted to outside linebacker. His size and speed made him ideal for the position. As a linebacker he was named All-AFL or All-NFL every year from 1965 through 1971.
During his career, the versatile Bell intercepted 26 passes, returning six for touchdowns. He also scored on an onside kick and two fumble recoveries. Built in the shape of an inverted pyramid with massive shoulders tapering down to a 32-inch waist, Bobby presented a fearsome appearance on the field. He had the physique to withstand as well as deal out punishment. What made him stand out from the crowd was his superior approach to the game, a willingness to play anywhere even when injured and his great joy at just playing the game. Bell was the first Kansas City Chiefs player to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.