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It's a Call from the President

The story of when President Richard Nixon called to congratulate the Chiefs following their victory in Super Bowl IV

It's been a long-standing tradition for the nation's president to recognize champions of the various professional sports leagues and the NCAA at special White House ceremonies.

It wasn't always that way.

It started during the administration of Richard Nixon, an avid football fan, and it began with his simple call to the winners in their locker room following a championship game and has morphed into an official visit to the White House by an entire team and its ownership, and to a series of photo ops and speech by the nation's leader about the greatness of the honored guests.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stram waves toward the field during the final minutes of Super Bowl IV, a 23 to 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans on 01/11/1970. ©Rod Hanna/NFL Photos

Nixon got the ball rolling with a telephone call to the victorious Chiefs' locker room following the team's victory in Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings. After the Watergate story broke, it was believed that Nixon recorded everything that went on in his presidency inside the Oval Office, but a listing of tapes turned up no evidence that his call to the Chiefs had been recorded. It turned out that Nixon had not yet begun to record all his business, but an official "log" of the event was located in the White House records.

The call was made shortly after the Super Bowl's conclusion. Dawson took the call partially dressed in his uniform with his son standing nearby.

The call wasn't lengthy, according to the log's timeline, and was followed by notice of meetings and other calls Nixon made to cabinet staff. Interestingly, Nixon had called coach Hank Stram previously the week preceding the game to throw his support whole-heartedly behind the Chiefs' quarterback.