spani gary
Gary Spani
  • Consensus All-State at Manhattan High School in 1973
  • KSU’s leading tackler for 3 consecutive seasons
  • 9 year starter and team captain for the Kansas City Chiefs
Spani, Gary
Inducted 2004

Born: January 9, 1956 – Satanta, Kansas

Graduated: Manhattan High School, 1974; Kansas State University, 1978


One of the greatest football players ever produced in the state of Kansas, Gary Spani of Manhattan was Kansas State’s first consensus All-American from his linebacker position and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

At K-State

Spani was Kansas State’s leading tackler for three consecutive seasons (1975-77) and remained the school’s all-time leading tackler for a quarter of a century. He was a three-time All-Big Eight selection for the Wildcats and finished his career with 543 tackles.  As a senior in 1977, Spani averaged 17 tackles a game and recorded over 20 in four games. He was named the 1977 Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year and was named the Most Valuable Player in the East-West Shrine Game and the Japan Bowl. Spani was named to the all-time All-Big Eight team by The Associated Press and K-State’s All-Century team.

NFL  Career

Spani was selected in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and became a nine-year starter and team captain. He started as a rookie and became the team’s leading tackler in his first season, He finished his career as the Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler with 999 stops.


Gary Spani was inducted into the Kansas State Hall of Fame in 2000 and K-State’s inaugural Ring of Honor in 2002.  He was voted the NFL Man of the Year in 1983 and was inducted into the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor in 2003.