After their loss in Super Bowl I to the Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs put an heavy emphasis on defense in the 1967 college draft. Both the AFL and NFL had agreed to start doing a combined draft and the Chiefs took 3 defensive players with their first 3 picks – one of them being linebacker Willie Lanier of Morgan State. Lanier had been a 2-time Small College All-American at Morgan State and by week 4 of his rookie season had been named the Chiefs starting Middle Linebacker. By his second season he was being reconigzed as one of best in professional football – noteably the first black middle linebacker in pro football to achieve such status. Willie Lanier proved he was just as capable as any of his peers at the position earning All-AFL, All Pro and NFL Pro Bowl Honors 8 of the 11 seasons he played.
Supposedly it was teamate Jerry Mays that gave him the nickname of “Contact” after the head-first style of tackling Lanier used.