2. MLB Willie Lanier
What a playmaking linebacking corps the Kansas City Chiefs had in the 1960s and early ‘70s. The aforementioned Bobby Bell earned his stripes as an overall defender and could play nearly anywhere on the front seven. Fellow outside linebacker Jim Lynch only earned one Pro Bowl invitation during his 11-year stay with the organization but along the way he picked off 17 passes and recovered 14 fumbles.
And there was middle linebacker Willie Lanier, who along with Bell are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a vital cog in Hank Stram’s defensive units and once he earned a steady spot in the starting lineup, he made quite an impression on one of the game’s great defensive units ever.
The former Morgan State University product was a second-round selection in 1967. Lanier played in only 10 games as a rookie but made nine starts. In his final 10 years, he missed only one contest. He would start 136-of-139 games from 1968-77. During those seasons, there were eight Pro Bowl invitations while Lanier was named All-Pro three times.
The man in the middle finished his career with 27 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. He also finished with seven tackles and one interception in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV victory over the Vikings.