Number 53 on the NL Network’s “Top 100” is Willie Lanier, who was a great linebacker in Kansas City. He was drafted in the second round as the 50th pick overall in 1967. He played in 149 games in 11 seasons.
Lanier was drafted out of Morgan State, and while he played, he intercepted 27 passes for 440 yards and two touchdowns. He was a part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV upset of the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7.
Lanier had no fan ranking and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Number 52 was Eric Dickerson, who was a running back drafted in 1983. Dickerson was the second overall pick in the first round by the Los Angeles Rams out of Southern Methodist.
Dickerson was an incredible runner. His rookie year, he ran for 1,808 yards, and then the next year smashed Simpson’s mark running for 2,105 yards.
Eric Dickerson had a lot different about him for a running back. First, he was 6’3.” That was tall for a running back. He was fast and he had moves which were very rare. He wore goggles so he wouldn’t have an eye injury as well as wearing a “horse collar.” Perhaps the most interesting thing about Dickerson was that he ran straight up; he did not bend forward.
Dickerson ended his career as the second all-time leading rusher with 13,259 yards on 2,996 carries.
He was placed into the Hall of Fame in 1999 and had a fan ranking of 28.
Of interest is that when Eric Dickerson was at Southern Methodist, he was placed in tandem with a running back named Craig James. James and Dickerson were called the “Pony Express.” James would go on to play for the New England Patriots and would be (and I don’t like this stat) the last white running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards. I think that is as shameful as limiting black players at quarterback. It is just amazing to me that as good as Dickerson was, he was actually paired with someone in college.
We have the lack of white players at running back and I can’t remember the last black placekicker I’ve seen. And in this very article Willie Lanier was one of a very few black middle linebackers because it ostensibly “took brains.”
Sports can help or hurt, but then I guess everything could be categorized that way.
Hall of Fame Website, “Willie Lanier”
NFL Network Website, “Willie Lanier LB”
You Tube Website,”Willie Lanier-#53 from Top 100 Greatest Players”
Hall of Fame Website, “Eric Dickerson”
NFL Network Website, “Eric Dickerson RB”
You Tube Website, “Eric Dickerson-#52 from Top 100 Greatest Players