Since a famous incident with a UFO in 1947, the city of Roswell, New Mexico, has a reputation for attracting things from out of this world. The American Football League was an earthly entity, but the league certainly wasn’t from the traditional world of professional football. Thus it’s only fitting that Lamar Hunt, the man behind the inception of the AFL, setup his franchise’s first ever training camp in Roswell.
On July 10th, 1960, the Dallas Texans, now known as the Kansas City Chiefs, opened training camp at the New Mexico Military Institute. Over 400 people watched the Texans in their first workout¹. By the end of that first day half of the roster was heading home. Former Texans LB Walt Corey recalls: “The first day, we had 100 guys and Coach Stram lined us up for one-on-one drills. If you lost, you went home.”
It was all business at the camp. The Texans worked hard in unrelenting heat, and they found out there weren’t too many perks at a military academy. They ate bad food and slept in mosquito infested rooms. Without the luxury of a swimming pool or any air conditioners, the players found a novel way to keep cool. At the end of practices they would dunk themselves into a nearby irrigation ditch².
The Texans tough training regiment paid quick dividends. They went 6-0 in the preseason. They didn’t perform as well in the regular season, but they still had a winning record of 8-6, good enough for second place in the AFL’s Western Division. The following season the Texans stayed in Dallas for training camp. To this day the Texans are the only major professional football team to ever hold a preseason training camp in the state of New Mexico.
- In the April 1968 issue of Harper’s Magazine, sportswriter Gary Cartwright chronicles what happened after he called the Texans training camp, “A Mickey Mouse Operation”.
- Roger Staubach is an alumnus of the New Mexico Military Institute. He led the the Institute’s junior college program to a record of 9-1 in 1961. That season they defeated Boise St., a junior college at the time.
Non-Linked Newspaper Sources
¹ Associated Press. (1960, July 11). Dallas AFL Team Opens Workouts. Corpus Christi Times, pp. 20. Retrieved July 19th, 2012 from NewspaperARCHVE.
² Mike Vaccaro from The Kansas City Star. (1997, July 22). Roswell was site of Dallas Texans’ first camp. Santa Fe New Mexican, pp. 18. Retrieved July 19th, 2012 from NewspaperARCHIVE.