|Malik Farrakhan Head Of PE Security Protocol 20 YearsCharlie King and Tony King, also known as Malik Farrakhan, were impact players at Alliance High in the Mel Knowlton Era, went their separate ways in college but were reunited at the professional level over 40 years ago.|
|PE Malik Farrakhan aka Tony King and Brother Elected To NFL Hall Of Fame|
|MIKE KEATINGReview Lead Sports WriterThey grew up in the same household and played on the same football team at two different levels.Charlie King and Tony King, also known as Malik Farrakhan, were impact players at Alliance High in the Mel Knowlton Era, went their separate ways in college but were reunited at the professional level over 40 years ago.
After extensive research, the Kings not only joined the same professional football team, but they signed with the Buffalo Bills in 1966, becoming the first African-American siblings to join the same National Football League team (although Buffalo was part of the old American Football League in those days) at the same time.
“I think it’s a tremendous achievement,” Tony King said. “I found out there were 333 brothers who played professional football, but none of them were African-Americans who played on the same team at the same time.”
Ralph Wilson was the Buffalo owner when the Kings joined the team and Wilson will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer for all of his contributions to the NFL.
One of Wilson’s contributions was becoming the first owner to sign two African-American siblings in the same year, a move Tony King is pushing for acknowledgement from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I think it’s a significant piece of history and we’ve spoken to (current Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Director) Steve Perry about it,” Tony King said. “I think it should be acknowledged, especially this year, since Ralph is going into the Hall of Fame.”
Charlie King, 65, is the older of the two brothers by one year. He played at Purdue University, while Tony King, 64, competed at the University of Findlay.
Although they competed at different levels, they were talented cornerbacks, both earning All-American status, piquing Wilson’s interest.
Charlie King fondly recalled how the deal with Buffalo commenced.
“I remember talking to Ralph and he told us, ‘We’re looking to draft both of you,’” Charlie King revealed. “That was an exciting moment.”
It almost didn’t happen.
Wilson was the Buffalo owner, but General Manager Dick Gallagher, who went on to become Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, handled the preliminary conversation over the telephone, only discussing Charlie King joining the team.
The discussion was interrupted by another family member.
“My dad got on the phone and said, ‘Why don’t you draft both of my sons? They were both All-Americans,’” Charlie King laughed. “My first thought was, ‘Dad, don’t blow this deal.’”
Instead of hanging up, Gallagher mulled over the suggestion and contacted Wilson.
The King family was pleased with the response.
“Ralph told him, ‘Dick, go ahead and draft both of them,” Charlie King said, emotion rising. “They did and we both sat down and signed with Buffalo. I was impressed with my dad. He didn’t have any background in negotiations, but he did a great job convincing them to draft and sign both Tony and me.”
The Kings joined the Bills in 1966.
The 1960s were a time of civil unrest. There were riots in major cities, such as Los Angeles, Detroit and Cleveland. Racial relations were strained, including in professional football.
Tony King gratefully recalled four white Buffalo teammates accepting him unconditionally: quarterback and future Congressman Jack Kemp, defensive end Ron McDole, linebacker Mike Stratton and linebacker and future NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
“They were four gentlemen,” Tony King recalled. “They didn’t let the color of a man’s skin stand in the way of being a good teammate and helping them.”
Charlie King made the Buffalo roster in 1966, playing all 14 games and picking off one pass. Tony King was relegated to the non-active squad.
They both made the active roster one year later as backup cornerbacks to veterans Booker Edgerson and Butch Byrd and also played on special teams. Charlie King appeared in all 14 games for the second straight year, Tony King played in half of those games.
The Kings were also roommates at Buffalo, but there were times when they also competed against one another in practice.
In one-on-one contact drill, Tony King lined up at flanker and Charlie King at cornerback. The whistle blew, there was a violent collision and the younger brother got the worst of it.
“Charlie gave me an illegal blow and knocked the bottom of my lip off,” Tony King recounted. “I was ticked off and didn’t speak to him, until he tore his Achilles’ tendon on a sprinkler and was rehabilitating later that year.”
Despite that incident, Charlie King was loyal to his brother, so loyal it influenced where he wanted to play professional football.
Charlie King was chosen by Buffalo and the NFL’s Baltimore Colts in the 1965 College Player Draft.
“Baltimore was a great team and so was Buffalo,” Charlie King reminisced. “The reason why I signed with Buffalo because they wanted to sign Tony and me. Baltimore didn’t. It was as simple as that.”
Their stay in Buffalo was two years. Charlie went to the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968 and stayed two years. His highlight was a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown in 1968. Tony King was with several teams, spending the most time with the New York Giants.
Tony King eventually became involved in acting and moved to Los Angeles and has won awards in the profession. He also speaks on behalf of causes throughout the world. Charlie King also relocated, but stayed closer to home, running a business in Fairlawn, a suburb of Akron.
The two Kings were pleased Wilson was picked to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
“Tony and I have both congratulated Ralph and we plan on being there for the ceremonies,” Charlie said. “When I think about it, I didn’t realize how powerful Ralph was and how influential he was in the NFL.”
But Charlie and Tony King were grateful Wilson took a chance to give them the opportunity to play pro football, regardless of race, color and relationship.