America's Trailblazing Middle Linebacker
The Story of NFL Hall of Famer Willie Lanier
by Joe Zagorski
Pub Date 12 Feb 2020
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Willie Lanier was the first African-American middle linebacker in pro football history, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1967-1977 in an era when discrimination against black athletes was still very much the norm. Lanier gave football fans a new mold of athlete, comprised of equal amounts intelligence, creativity, individualism, and collaboration.
America's Trailblazing Middle Linebacker: The Story of NFL Hall of Famer Willie Lanier explores the life and times of this groundbreaking football star. A walk-on at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, Lanier established himself as a force on the field. Drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, Lanier fought his way to the starting middle linebacker position and became a Super Bowl champion, an eight time All-Pro, and the NFL’s Man of the Year in 1972. After retiring from football, Lanier went to work in the business world and became the CEO of a major US company. This book delves into Lanier’s college years, his NFL exploits, and his many successes off the gridiron, revealing a man who, through hard work and determination, made the most of every opportunity that came his way.
On and off the football field, Lanier showed America a glimpse of the future, when fairness, opportunity, and racial integrity could be the reality for everyone. An inspiration for athletes and fans everywhere, Lanier’s story is that of a man who loved challenges, and faced every one of them with an unmatched drive to excel and succeed. Lanier was, and still is, a trailblazer.