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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 909


This is the grave of Buck Buchanan.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1940, Junious Buckingham. He was a star athlete in both football and basketball. With Jim Crow still dominant in the South and only a few northern colleges admitting a few southern Black athletes, Buchanan went to Grambling College in Louisiana, one of the most successful HBCU’s in the athletes. He was a great player for the legendary coach Eddie Robinson. But while professional football did come calling, he wasn’t picked that high by the NFL. The New York Giants selected him in the 19th round. But in the new American Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs knew he was a gem and would be a dominant defensive tackle. So they took him in the first round. In fact, he was the #1 pick in the 1963 AFL draft.

Let’s just say that worked out for the Chiefs. Buchanan was 6’7″ and weighed 270, which was pretty huge for this era. I will also note that a man this large ran a 10.2 100 meters in college. So….yeah, he was some kind of athlete. The Chiefs briefly tried him at defensive end but he soon settled in at defensive tackle where he was a dominant stud for nearly 15 years. In fact, he played a mere 166 games in a row, which is amazing for a man at this position. He made the AFL All-Star Game after his second season. The Chiefs had an absolutely dominant defensive line and this led to the Super Bowl title in Super Bowl IV in 1970, where they defeated the Minnesota Vikings. He was a first team All-AFL from 1964 to 1969 and then went to the Pro Bowl in 1970 and 1971.

When the NFL named its 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, Buchanan was one of the defensive tackles chosen, along with Joe Greene, Bob Lilly, Merlin Olsen, Alan Page, John Randle, and Randy White. That’s the company Buchanan is there with. He finally retired after the 1975 season.

It was by no means then surprising that Buchanan made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which happened in 1990. Alas, he died of lung cancer two years later in 1992. He was 51 years old. Not sure if he was a smoker or if it was something else.

Buck Buchanan is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri.

If you would like this series to visit other defensive linemen on the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Merlin Olsen is in San Gabriel, California and Reggie White is in Mooresville, North Carolina. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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