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The History of the AFL's Ten-Year Patch

    During the entire 1969 Professional Football season, all NFL players wore a shoulder patch on their uniforms, reading "50 NFL".    I petitioned the American Football League owners to have their players wear a patch commemorating the league's ten years, especially since it was the AFL's final year.    The AFL owners generally either ignored or declined this suggestion.  In Lamar Hunt's words, they felt that a patch would make the uniforms "too busy".  However, Billy Sullivan of the Patriots did forward my letter to then-AFL President Milt Woodard, who wrote me: "As for your suggestion that AFL shoulder patches also be worn for the Super Bowl, I will investigate this with the firm which will provide our jerseys and ascertain if it can be done handily." (click the quote to see the full letter)

     I enlisted the support of AFL players, notably Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jack Kemp, who also urged Pete Rozelle to support the idea.  By season's end, in response to a letter from Kemp (a request no doubt reinforced by the fact that Mr. Hunt's team was in the final Super Bowl played between two LEAGUE champions) Mr. Hunt agreed to have the Chiefs wear a ten-year AFL patch in Super Bowl IV.

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      AFL Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram supported the idea and used the patch as a motivating factor for his team.   Stram was later quoted as saying "You could not believe it when you saw the faces of the players. These were great men, and great pros, but they were like kids in a candy shop when they saw that patch."      Years later, Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier remarked "It lit us up. We knew what it meant."
        In the last game ever played by an American Football League team, with the
AFL patch on their shoulders, the Chiefs went out and destroyed the Vikings 23 - 7.   See the write-up for 1969 on the official Kansas City Chiefs page at http://www.kcchiefs.com/history/uniform/
                                                                                                                                                         ~ Ange Coniglio

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Milt Woodard

        Milt Woodard attended the College of Puget Sound, where he played baseball (1933), then attended the University of Minnesota.  He had a notable sportswriting career at  the Tacoma News Tribune and at the Chicago Sun-Times.  He wrote the track and field section of the 1945 Encyclopedia Britannica and was president of the Western Golf Association.
       Woodard served under Joe Foss as the Assistant Commissioner of the American Football League from 1960 until 1966. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, he made the decision to postpone the week's AFL games, while the
NFL continued with theirs. Woodard served as President of the AFL from July 1966 until the NFL officially merged with it in March 1970.  At the urging of Ange Coniglio and AFL Hall of Famer Jack Kemp, he had the commemorative Ten-year AFL shoulder patch produced for the  Chiefs to wear in the fourth and final AFL-NFL World Championship Game.  In 1989, Woodard was inducted into the Washington Sports Hall of Fame.


 

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Last revision: 30 November 2013 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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