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Historian explains how 1st Black NFL, Chiefs scout poached Otis Taylor from Dallas Cowboys

Lloyd Wells
Posted at 5:30 AM, Apr 25, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The late Chiefs legend Otis Taylor almost became a Dallas Cowboy instead of a Kansas City Chief.

Ahead of the draft, Chiefs Historian Bob Moore explains the story to KSHB 41 News and the role the NFL's first Black scout played in landing Taylor.

He says the Dallas Cowboys had Taylor in a hotel room, moments away from signing with the NFL franchise.

That’s when the Chiefs top brass sent Lloyd Wells down to Texas to try and swoop the wide receiver and sign him to the AFL franchise.

"(The Chiefs front office) Gets wind that the Cowboys have him and have him squared away and sequestered somewhere," Moore said. "‘You’ve got to get back here,' he says to Wells. Because Wells knows him."

From there, Moore said it was manhunt for Taylor.

“So, Wells dumps what he's doing, runs back to Texas. Can’t find him. Calls his mother, his girlfriend, his buddies, and he finds him in Richardson, Texas, right outside of Dallas," Moore said. "In the midst of it, (Wells) gets him to come out of the back window of the hotel. Gets him up to Kansas City to sign a contract and before they know it, our guy is driving back to Texas in a brand-new T-Bird to Houston.”

That’s the charm, wit and connections Wells brought to the Kansas City Chiefs.

As the NFL's first full-time Black scout, he didn’t need a draft board or a combine to tell you who to sign to your team.

As author Michael MacCambridge points out in his book "69 Chiefs: A Team, A Season, and the Birth of Modern Kansas City," Wells was instrumental in building that Super Bowl IV Championship Roster.

“He was definitely a man from a different time," MacCambridge said. "Lloyd Wells — he was an American original in his own right and he was a key component to the Chiefs success.”

KSHB 41 Anchor Kevin Holmes asked Moore what Wells meant to the NFL and how he became a trailblazer for Blacks in the front office.

“There’s no question he had a senior role in that,” Moore said. “Since he was the first, full time African-American employee of the organization in the front office.”

Wells was hired at a time when most college football conferences were still segregated.

But for Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt, talent knew no color.

“He’s got good contacts, because that’s what he’s selling them,” Moore said. "And all these contacts are at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He becomes the main contact because he knows these places, and he knows some of the coaches and players because he’s been a photographer for Jet Magazine, so hew as well connected to the Black communities.”

Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas, Buck Buchanan, and of course Taylor — those are just some of the big names Wells helped recruit to the Kansas City Chiefs.

And as he helped unite a team of players from different races and backgrounds, he also helped unite a city.

“I don’t think we can overstate just how important that Chiefs team was to this city,” MacCambridge said. “Every city is going to embrace a championship team, but there was something about the nature of that team. The integrated quality of that team."