Former Kansas City Chief’s Head Coach Hank Stram
The Kansas City Chiefs had just won Superbowl IV and I was a freshman at William Jewell College, home of the Kansas City Chief’s training camp from 1963-1990. During my senior year I was able to take a job working at the camp helping where ever I was needed. The job came with a salary, free meals and lodging where I lived in a dorm called Newman’s Hall (Browning Hall) with the players.
I will never forget all the great food I was able to enjoy in the cafeteria including all you could eat filet mignon. At lunch every day the veterans would pick on the rookies and one of the funniest things was when they were asked to stand up on a table and sing the Denver Broncos fight song. Back in those days the Broncos were not that good having loosing seasons from 1960 to 1972.
During lunch time a number of the veterans would drive up to the cafeteria in fancy new cars and they were big, not just the cars, but the players.
Most of the starters like Quarterback Len Dawson and Defensive Tackle Buck Buchanan lived nearby. The players I came most in contact with were the rookies. One memorable friend at camp in 1974 was John Casola. John was the brother of Sal Casola, a college kicker that the Chiefs had signed on for the training camp in hopes of finding a new kicker to back up Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud. Although no one in camp knew it at the time, Sal was apparently discouraged when he was waived by the Buffalo Bills and did not want to come to Kansas City. So his brother John who was also a kicker decided to take his place and use his brother’s name Sal when he signed with the Chiefs. So when we first met he called himself Sal, but his real name was John.
I was also working part time at the Kansas City Museum of History and Science and invited John to come to the museum and meet some of my friends on his day off. He dated one of the girls in the gift shop and we all went to an Elton John concert at Arrowhead Stadium.
One day John disappeared and I did not find out what happened until I read the Sport Section in the Kansas City Times on August 20, 1974. The Chiefs had lost their game against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night August 12, and when they did they learned from the Buffalo Bills Coaching staff that the Sal Casola on the Chief’s roster was not the same Sal Casola who had played for the Bills. After a short conversation with Bill’s coach Lou Saban, on Tuesday Chief’s head coach Hank Stram called Casola into his office. After confessing that he indeed was an imposter, John packed up his bags and left camp that same day never to be seen again.
My last day working for the Chief’s was on August 31, 1974 when the Chief’s played their final game of the preseason at Dallas. My job on that day was to run Polaroid pictures of the formations from the Press Box down to the field for the coaches. Back in those days we did not have all the technology that we have today. Pictures could be sent down to the field on a cable at Arrowhead, but when playing away games someone had to run the pictures down to the field. It was fun and great exercise and later some of my friends at Jewell told me that they saw me during the TV broadcast wearing my William Jewell shirt.
Most of my friends know that I have been a Buffalo Bills fan all of my life, but not everyone knows that my number two team has always been the Chiefs. I am not sure if the Bills will ever win the Super Bowl in my lifetime, but at least I have one team that has become champions not once but twice. Go Chiefs, Go Bills.
William Jewell College is the oldest college still active today west of the Mississippi River. Jewell Hall housed Civil War troops and was apparently also used as a military hospital.