By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of The African-American Athlete
You may not know much about Lloyd C.A. Wells, but you see his impact on the world of professional football every weekend throughout the season.
A graduate of Texas Southern University, Wells made a significant impact on the American Football League, and how pro football came to view the black athletes from HBCUs.
Working as the AFL’s first full-time black scout for the Kansas City Chiefs, Wells knew precisely where to find a reservoir of untapped talent, and that was at America’s black college football programs. There were literally dozens and dozens of great, black players at schools like Texas Southern, Grambling, Jackson State, Florida A&M, Tennessee State, and others. For whatever reason, the NFL was not scouting them as intently as the AFL. Consider that Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones was a 14th round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1961.
However, what some in the NFL saw as inferior football, Wells saw as a gold mine of talent.
He scouted Otis Taylor, Willie Lanier and Buck Buchanan, who all played at HBCUs, and were all signed by the Chiefs. All three men went on to have great careers. Lanier and Buchanan are Hall of Famers, and Taylor is a former All-Pro receiver.
When the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in 1970, 22 players on their 40 man roster were black. The Chiefs were the first team in professional football where the majority of starters were black.
“That was just unheard of at the time,” said Lanier, who played collegiately at Morgan State. “Lloyd Wells deserves all the credit for that.”
Wells’ impact on sports goes beyond football. In the 60’s Wells worked as the sports editor of the Houston Informer. He challenged the Houston Astros to integrate their press room during games.
Yes, the press room was segregated, until Wells worked to desegregate it.
In the 70’s, Wells worked as an advisor to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, and as a press agent for George Foreman.
“He was as close to me as a brother,” said Ali, when Wells passed away in 2005, at the age of 78.
Linked is video of Wells getting his due following the Chiefs’ victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV, and his induction into the 2016 Black College Football Hall of Fame.