The Kansas City Chiefs were saddened to learn of the passing of Wayne Rudy over the weekend. Rudy was the original head athletic trainer of the Chiefs, he spent 24 seasons in that capacity before retiring in 1984.
Rudy served as the head athletic trainer at SMU from ‘47-59, where one of the student-athletes was a reserve end on the football squad named Lamar Hunt. Hunt would later hire Rudy to serve the players of his newly-formed American Football League franchise, the Dallas Texans. Rudy moved with the team to Kansas City, where he became one of the most popular and longest-tenured members of the football support staff in Chiefs history.
During his tenure with the team, Rudy was an integral part of three AFL championships and two teams that reached the Super Bowl, including the club’s Super Bowl IV squad. Remembered as a dedicated and devoted member of the Chiefs family, Rudy was particularly beloved by the countless players who he cared for over the years.
“I was saddened to learn of Wayne’s passing,” said Hall of Fame LB Willie Lanier, one of many former players who expressed their condolences. “For individuals outside the football world, it is hard to quantify how central Wayne was to our team as a member of the support staff. I always had complete confidence in the quality of care that I received in order to perform day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out.”
A respected figure in the athletic training profession, Rudy played a key role in the organization of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), which was formed in ‘50 when the first meeting of that organization took place in Kansas City. About 200 athletic trainers, including Rudy, gathered at that event to discuss the future of their profession. Nearly 60 years later, the NATA boasts a global membership of more than 30,000.
Rudy twice served as national director of the NATA and was a ‘74 honoree in the NATA Hall of Fame class that also included legendary Baltimore Colts trainer, Ed Block. A graduate of Bowling Green University, Rudy was enshrined in that school’s Hall of Fame in ‘75. In addition, he was also a member of the inaugural class of inductees into the Missouri Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in ‘84.
Condolences to the Rudy family today. It’s great to see players — especialy one as great as Lanier — give so much credit to the work that Rudy did while he was with the Chiefs. I don’t think any of us fully understand just how integral athletic trainers are to every major sport and Rudy was one of the most influencial to the profession.