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Gary Spani


Gary Leland Spani

Inducted 2002

Date of Birth



Satanta, KS


Kansas State University (1974-1977)


Among the greatest football player in Kansas State University history, Gary Spani dominated the defensive side of the ball and is the first player from the school to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Spani, a Kansas native, become Kansas State's first consensus All-America in 1977. He was a Heisman Trophy Linebacker Award finalist and was named defensive MVP in both the East-West Shrine Game and the Japan Bowl. A three-time All-Big-8 Conference selection, he was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Week four times, becoming the first player in Big-8 history to repeat all four years. Spani was also named UPI's Big-8 Defensive Player of the Year in 1977. While at K-State, he was twice named the team's Most Valuable Player and captain, led the team in tackles three times, and closed his collegiate career as the school's all-time leader in four separate tackling categories. He averaged 17 tackles per game his senior year and recorded at least 20 tackles in four games. His defensive coach Dick Selcer said, "Watching Spani play was like watching a falcon hunt for small prey. Gary's precision to dissect a play and then reek havoc was incredible to watch. His instinct as a linebacker is the best I've ever seen or coached." Gary was a third round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs, where he starred for nine seasons and retired as the leading tackler in franchise history. Selected for the Miller/NFL "Man of the Year" Award in 1983, and voted NFL O'Grady's "Crunchman of the Year" in 1984; he is also an inductee of the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame. Spani is a member of the Kansas State Sports Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor, K-State's All-Century Team, AP's All-Time Big-8 Team, and has been named to Sports Illustrated's 50 Greatest Players of the 20th Century from the state of Kansas.


Height 6'2

Weight 229

Career Highlights

  • 1977 All-Conference
  • 1977 Consensus All-America
  • 1976 All-Conference
  • 1975 All-Conference
  • 1975 Third Team All-America
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