Inductee spotlight: Mike Garrett, Kansas City Chiefs running back

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It’s been deemed by the Sporting News as the most iconic play in Kansas City Chiefs history. The “65 Toss Power Trap,” ordered by coach Hank Stram and forever captured on the grainy footage of NFL Films, in essence secured the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV victory in January 1970.

Mike Garrett, the man who scored the 5-yard touchdown on that play, beams every time he thinks about it.

“The thing I liked most about that play was Otis Taylor coming into the end zone and picking me up,” Garrett said. “We laughed because we knew what it meant. With the Jets winning the year before and then us, the AFL became equal to the NFL.”

Call it the pinnacle of his career and a big reason why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Garrett with the Class of 2018 this Sunday during the Enshrinement presented by Killian Constuction. Associate sponsors are Advertising Plus, Hiland Dairy, Hillyard, Inc., and White River Valley Electric Cooperative.

The Enshrinement, set for 5 p.m. Sunday at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, has tickets available by calling 417-889-3100.

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The 1965 Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Southern California and a 20th-round selection of the 1966 American Football League draft, Garrett enjoyed five memorable seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (1966-1970), helping the franchise reach the first and fourth Super Bowls. Along the way, he rushed for 3,246 yards, which ranks No. 7 all-time in Chiefs history.

He later played for the San Diego Chargers (1970-1973), was inducted into three Halls of Fame – Chiefs (1978), College Football (1985), USC (1994) – and eventually returned to USC as athletic director from 1993 to 2010, hiring coach Pete Carroll in 2001 to lead a resurgence.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Mike Garrett (21) watches in frustration during the Chiefs 35-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I on 1/15/1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Super Bowl I - Kansas City Chiefs vs Green Bay Packers - January 15, 1967 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Los Angeles, California United States January 15, 1967 Photo by James Flores/WireImage.com To license this image (6288754), contact WireImage: +1 212-686-8900 (tel) +1 212-686-8901 (fax) info@wireimage.com (e-mail) www.wireimage.com (web site)

And he’ll always have the 65 Toss Power Trap.

“We ran it only once or twice the whole season,” Garrett said, explaining the play in great detail, that Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson was to fake a toss to the left but feed him the handoff to the right. Selling the fake to the middle linebackers was key. Otherwise …

“It’s a play where the running back gets destroyed by a linebacker,” Garrett said. “So when Hank called for it in the Super Bowl, I hoped that they would buy the toss, or else I’d be toast. When I slipped into the hole, their linebacker lunged at me, and I stayed away from him.”

The play pushed the Chiefs to a 16-0 advantage of an eventual 23-7 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

The TD also reinforced what Garrett had long believed – that the Chiefs should have played in each of the first four Super Bowls.

Len Dawson and Mike Garrett enjoy the moment after beating the Buffalo Bills on November 2, 1969.

Len Dawson and Mike Garrett enjoy the moment after beating the Buffalo Bills on November 2, 1969.

“The Chiefs were the most talented team I have played for in any sport,” Garrett said. “We were just very, very good.”

That Garrett was even playing football, no less with the Chiefs, was a story unto itself.

He had climbed out of east Los Angeles’ Roosevelt High School and into a scholarship at Southern Cal, having been noticed only because injuries to Roosevelt’s stable of running backs forced Garrett to abandon QB duties and salvage the season.

And yet he became one of college football’s greats, rushing for a whopping 3,221 yards and 30 touchdowns at USC. There, he twice earned All-American honors and launched “Tailback U” in becoming the first of USC’s six Heisman Trophy winners.

Mike Garrett (21) historic photos from career; Heisman Trophy

At that point, Garrett’s journey could have led to almost anywhere, such as pro baseball or the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams. Garrett was drafted in 1965 by the Pittsburgh Pirates and twice by the Los Angeles Dodgers (1966, 1970). The Rams wanted to keep him in L.A., but wouldn’t commit to making him their No. 1 draft pick.

Plus, there was a rumor he had already signed with the AFL’s Oakland Raiders, so Garrett’s name fell in the American Football League draft all the way to the 20th round. However, the Chiefs learned the truth, and swooped in, signing him for $500,000 – or almost $3.8 million in 2017 dollars.

Not that some Chiefs were sold on him initially. Garrett was just 5-foot-9 and 191 pounds.

Mike Garrett runs agains the Chargers 1969.

Mike Garrett runs agains the Chargers 1969.

Fortunately, two factors played a positive role. For one, fullback Curtis McClinton as well as Emmitt Thomas, Jim Kearney and Taylor took him under their wings. Secondly, the Chiefs ran an I-formation offense familiar to Garrett, who thus earned All-AFL in 1966 and 1967.

For Garrett, now living back in Kansas City, he is thankful for wife Suzanne and their four children Sara, Daniel, Michael and John as well as USC coach John McKay and Stram, plus a memorable play.

“That was the play,” Garrett said, “that broke the game wide open.”

And defined a franchise.

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January Enshrinement-FB

 

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s 2018 Enshrinement Ceremonies presented by Killian Construction

When: Sunday, January 28

Morning reception: 11 a.m., presented by Meek’s The Builder’s Choice, at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive in Springfield.

Afternoon festivities: 4 p.m. reception, 5 p.m. dinner & ceremony at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, Springfield

Class of 2018: Mike Garrett (Kansas City Chiefs), Lee Smith (St. Louis Cardinals), Howard Richards (University of Missouri football), Jim Otis (St. Louis Football Cardinals & Kansas City Chiefs), Martin Mac Donald (Conservationist, Outdoorsman, Runner), football coach Gary Barnett (Northwestern University & University of Colorado), softball coach Holly Hesse (Missouri State University), Doug Elgin (Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner), Dr. Brian Mahaffey (Missouri State University, St. Louis Cardinals), shot putter Christian Cantwell (Eldon High School/University of Missouri/Olympics), basketball standout Kerensa Barr Cassis (West Plains High School/Mizzou), Dan Lucy (KOLR 10 TV Sports Director), Rockhurst High School football coach Tony Severino, basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer (Northwest Missouri State University, UMSL), Rick Grayson (PGA teaching professional), Learfield, the Lamar High School Football Program, Springfield-Greene County Park Board, Independent Printing – John Q. Hammons Founders Award, Rick Todd of Herschend Family Entertainment – President’s Award.

Sponsorship opportunities: Tables of 10 are $1,500 and include an autographed poster (a rendering by renowned artist Dayne Dudley), recognition in the printed program and at the table. Individual tickets are $150. Numerous other sponsorships are available, including congratulatory ads, trading cards and 20-month calendars.

Call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame: 417-889-3100.