INDIANAPOLIS —"We had a chance to get possibly the best tight end in all of football, and we had to give up a good football player.''
That quote comes from former Baltimore Colts general manager Joe Thomas.
In 1973, the Colts were looking to add a missing ingredient to their offense, and they were willing to trade defensive end Bubba Smith — the No. 1-overall pick in the 1967 NFL Draft — to get it.
That ingredient, Raymond Chester, had played a huge part in revolutionizing the tight end position in the NFL in the early 1970s in his first three seasons with the Oakland Raiders, where the Morgan State product averaged 35 receptions for 525 yards and about eight touchdowns in an era in which tight ends were utilized much more as an extra blocker than as capable receivers.
The 1970 NFL Rookie of the Year, Chester was also a Pro Bowl selection in his first three years with the Raiders, and the Colts wanted the Baltimore-area native bad — bad enough they were willing to part with a player like Smith to get him.
Chester would end up playing five seasons in Baltimore before being traded back to the Raiders, where he finished up his career with four more years before retiring after the 1981 season — one year after Oakland claimed the NFL championship with a 27-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV.
A transcendent player at his position, Chester on Wednesday was announced as one of seven inductees into the Black College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018.
Here's Chester's profile from the Black College Football Hall of Fame release:
*RAYMOND CHESTER (Player)
Tight End … Morgan State University (1966-1969) … Member of Morgan State's 1968 undefeated team, scoring the Bears' only touchdown in their historic victory over Grambling at Yankee Stadium … Member of 1970 College All-Star team … Selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 24th overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft … Raiders (1970-1972; 1978-1981) … Baltimore Colts (1973-1977) … NFL Rookie of the Year (1970) … Four-time Pro Bowl Selection … Super Bowl Champion (1980) … Born on June 28, 1948 in Cambridge, Maryland.
In his five seasons in Baltimore, Chester would play in 69 games, starting 66, and had 148 receptions for 2,122 yards with 11 touchdowns.
The BCFHOF Class of 2018 also had one other Colts tie: running back Leo 'Lincoln Locomotive' Lewis, who was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the 1955 NFL Draft, but elected to play his 12-year professional football career in the Canadian Football League.
Other former Colts BCFHOF inductees from previous classes include defensive end Richard Dent and wide receiver Willie Richardson.
Chester and the rest of the BCFHOF Class of 2018 will be honored at the ninth annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Feb. 10, 2018, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.