Early life Amos was born John Amos, Jr. in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Annabelle P. and John A. Amos, Sr., who was an auto mechanic. He graduated from East Orange (NJ) High School in 1958. He enrolled at Long Beach City College and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in sociology. Amos also played on the Colorado State Rams football team. Amos was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. In 1964, he signed a free agent contract with the American Football League's Denver Broncos. He was released before the season and played with Joliet Explorers of the United Football League. In 1965 he played with the Norfolk Neptunes and Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League. In 1966 he played with the Jersey City Jets and Waterbury Orbits of the Atlantic Coast Football League. In 1967, he had signed a free agent contract with the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs. He was released in training camp and played that year with the Victoria Steelers of the Continental Football League.
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