Bobby Bell arrived at the University of Minnesota after playing halfback and quarterback for a small, segregated high school in Shelby, North Carolina.
After joining the Gophers, Bell was switched to defensive end and went on to become a two-time All-America in football and one of the top players in Gophers football history.
Bell, one of the first African Americans to receive an athletic scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota, helped the Gophers win the national championship in 1960 and make two appearances in the Rose Bowl, while winning the Outland Trophy in 1962 as the nation's most outstanding interior lineman.
Gophers football coach Murray Warmath said Bell was "the greatest lineman I have ever seen."
Following his Gophers career, he was drafted by both the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs of AFL. He signed with the Chiefs and played for them from 1963-1974.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, Bell excelled in Kansas City's "stack defense," which called for him to drop out of the 4-3 alignment and become a fourth linebacker. In 1965, after winning all-league honors as a defensive end the previous season, Bell was shifted to outside linebacker. His size and speed made him ideal for the position."
During his career, Bell intercepted 26 passes, returning six for touchdowns. He also scored on an onside kick and two fumble recoveries.
He was an AFL All-Star for six consecutive years and an NFL All-Star five times after the AFL merged with the NFL. He was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1970s. Bell was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991. He was the first former Kansas City player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1999, the Star Tribune named an 11-player all-time team for Gophers football. Bell was named to the team. The Star Tribune wrote, "Undersized even before the era of line-playing behemoths, Bell's quickness, upper-body strength and flat-out speed caused Butch Nash (an assistant Gophers football coach from 1947 to 1991) to make this sincere and overwhelming statement: 'He was the best football player we've ever had here.'"
Teams: Gophers, Kansas City Chiefs.