MY ALL-TIME KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TEAM

A number of readers have sent requests for various versions of an all-time Chiefs' team. There were all-decade team suggestions, best of the last 20-years & best ever. I went with best ever since I have been watching this franchise since Mayor H. Roe Bartle convinced Lamar Hunt to move his fledgling AFL team to Kansas City & rename them the Chiefs. I remember a naming contest was run by a radio station or The Kansas City Star. I also recall some of the semi-finalists, Steers, Royals & Mules. I like the name that won, the Chiefs.

So here is my All-Time Chiefs' Team with the second team coming tomorrow with some explanation on why they were picked. I want to give thanks to fellow geezer & Arrowhead sideline photog, Chuck P. for allowing me to bounce a lot of these ideas off someone with enough knowledge of the franchise to actually help.

FIRST TEAM ALL-CHIEFS

QB - Len Dawson - Hall of Famer, Super Bowl IV MVP, there are many no-brainers on this team, this is one. There's absolutely no part of Dawson's game that was lacking. He threw 239 touchdown passes, which ranked him 5th in history when he retired. Seven Pro Bowl games, was the first of four Chiefs to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1973.

RB
- Priest Holmes - scored 83 TD's in just 4 seasons, rushed for 6,070 yards(led the league in '02 with 1,555, '02 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 3-time Pro Bowl & All-Pro. Caught 251 passes for K.C. too. All-time NFL rushing leader amongst undrafted players.

FB - Tony Richardson - Played 11 seasons for Chiefs, one of the great lead blockers of his era. Like Holmes, undrafted player who went on to the Pro Bowl 3 times as a Chief. Durable, extremely smart & a great work ethic. The only player in the league wearing #49 on his jersey.

WR - Otis Taylor - Personally, my favorite Chief of all-time. He was truly the prototype of today's wide receiver. He was big(6' 3" 215), fast & extremely tough. He made many of the "big" catches in Chiefs' history including the game clincher in Super Bowl IV, when he took a quick out from Len Dawson & turned it into a 46-yard touchdown. No old timer can forget Otis taking on half the Raider defense after Ben Davidson speared a prone Len Dawson in the largest & longest brawl I ever saw in a pro football game. Truly deserving of enshrinement in Canton, all of his team records have been surpassed by Henry Marshall & Tony Gonzalez except one, yards per catch, a staggering 17.8.

WR - Stephone Paige - yet another undrafted free agent success with the Chiefs. Paige caught 377 passes for 49 touchdowns all the while playing on really awful teams with the exception of the 1986 10-6 team. He set the all-time record(at the time) for most yards receiving in a single game when on December 22, 1985, he totaled 309 yards on a windswept Arrowhead field in near zero windchill. He did so on just 8 catches. Like Taylor, Paige had a big YPC at 16.8 & ultra dependable hands.

TE - Tony Gonzalez - Like Dawson, a total no-brainer. The NFL's all-time leader in receptions, yardage & touchdowns for a tight end. Ten-time Pro Bowl performer. While he was a Chief for 12 seasons, Tony G. caught 916 passes for 10,940 yards & 76 touchdowns. One of the most popular Chiefs of all-time as well. Super solid character & extremely durable. Still searching for that first playoff win. Lock 1st ballot Hall of Famer.

OT - Willie Roaf - Tho only a 4-year player for Kansas City, he was the best tackle to ever wear a Chiefs' uniform. Future Hall of Famer & 11-time Pro Bowler. There wasn't a chink in his armor, super work ethic, powerful, mean & a very high football IQ. One of the top-4 tackles I've ever seen.

OT - John Alt - Started at left tackle for 149 games, played on the last playoff winning team, the 1993 team that went to the AFC Championship game. Made 2 Pro Bowls & would have made a lot more except he played at the same time as Cincinnati's Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.

OG - Will Shields - Started 223 consecutive games, 12-time Pro Bowl performer & lock Hall of Famer. The 2003 Walter Payton Man of the year award winner for off-field charitable work. Won the Outland Trophy at Nebraska, but because of pass protection doubts, he lasted till the 3rd round of the 1993 draft. Started in week 2 & never missed a start until he retired. One of the smartest persons to ever play his position. Like Roaf, a top-4 all-time guard in my opinion.

OG - Ed Budde - Brutal mauler with excellent understanding of how the position was played. Made the AFL All Star Game & the NFL's Pro Bowl 7 times. had to battle Buck Buchanan in daily practices for over 10 years. He played in two Super Bowls & his opponents Green Bay's Henry Jordan & Viking Hall of Famer Alan Page, weren't effective versus Budde. Played 14 seasons in Kansas City & 177 games.

C - Tim Grunhard - This was a tough selection, but I went with Grunhard because of his durability & starting streak, 164 straight games. He was a true anchor on a very good O-line even tho he made but one Pro Bowl. He became famous for his quote during the Chiefs come from behind playoff win at Houston when, while sobbing in the huddle, "we gotta win this game, I'm just a fat kid from Chicago who never won anything." This wasn't completely true, his 1989 Notre Dame team went 12-1.

DE - Neil Smith - Was carl Peterson's first #1 draft pick. From Nebraska, Smith was selected in the 1988 draft #2 overall. Totaled 85.5 sacks for the Chiefs, forced 28 fumbles & recorded 503 tackles, all in just 9 seasons. Smith also blocked 3 field goals, all potential game-winners in the 4th quarter. Six-time Pro Bowl performer. Together with Derrick Thomas, the Chiefs had the most feared edge pass rushers in the league.

DE - Art Still - Like Smith, was the 2nd overall player taken in the 1978 draft. The Chiefs' third all-time in sacks with 72.5. Still led the team in tackles three times, almost unheard of for a defensive end, finishing his Kansas City career with 992. Four-time Pro Bowler, Still played for a number of really bad Chiefs' teams, but he continued to produce at a very high level, playing in 136 games & starting 132.

DT - Buck Buchanan - The best defensive lineman in franchise history, inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Played in 182 consecutive games as a Chief, elected to 8 straight AFL All Star Games & NFL Pro Bowls. Enormous for his era at 6' 7" 286 pounds, his huge wingspan created problems for passers league-wide. In one season alone, 1967, he batted down 16 passes. Al Davis drafted Gene Upshaw in 1967 specifically to block Buchanan, something no one wearing silver & black had been able to do up to that point.

DT - Curley Culp - The prototype nose tackle way back then. Culp was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champ & a 2nd round pick by the Denver Broncos who couldn't find a position for him. He was a tad small for defensive tackle at 6' 1" & 265 & too large for linebacker so Hank Stram invented the "Triple Stack" defense. It placed Culp head-up on the center in a mismatch, now he needed to be double-teamed, freeing up his tackle partner Buck Buchanan & the middle linebacker, Willie Lanier. With his wrestling background, he could consistently out-quick & out-leverage the opposing center. Culp was raised on a pig farm in Yuma Arizona & he claimed hauling feed gave him both great natural strength & leverage. One of the worst trades in franchise history sent Culp to the Houston Oilers for John Matuzak. Culp went onto 4 more Pro Bowls.

OLB - Bobby Bell - Called by Hank Stram as the greatest athlete to ever play for the Chiefs. No argument from me. He was the Outland Trophy winner from Minnesota as a defensive tackle. He also played center & quarterback for the Gophers. The first Chief elected to the Hall of Fame. Bell did it all for Kansas City too, played defensive end, linebacker, tight end in a pinch & was the teams deep snapper for many years. Bell was the fastest guy I ever saw in high top shoes. Elected to nine Pro Bowls, Bell had 26 career interceptions which he returned for 9 touchdowns. He also scored on a fumble recovery & an onside kickoff return. He also joined Buchannan, Ed Budde, Johnny Robinson & Jerry Mays on the American Football League's All-Time Team.

OLB - Derrick Thomas - The quickest 1st step I ever saw from a pass rusher. Holds NFL records for forcing the most fumbles in a career with 45 & recording 7 sacks in one game. That was on November 11, 1990 vs. Seattle, I remember it well as I was in the stands that day. He went on to record 20 sacks that season & 126.5 in his career. Won the Butkus Award as the best college linebacker while at Alabama. Won the NFL defensive rookie of the year, won the 1993 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award & was elected to 9 Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.

MLB - Willie Lanier - The first African-American starting middle linebacker. Made 8 Pro Bowls & was one of the fiercest hitters in football, nick-named "Contact" by teammates. Lanier had 27 career interceptions, the most by any middle linebacker at that time, including Butkus. Named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team & inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Missed only 3 starts in 11 seasons.

CB - Emmitt Thomas - Played in 181 games for the Chiefs & is their career interception leader with 58. Thomas was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008 after playing in 5 Pro Bowls. Thomas was the definition of a shutdown cornerback. He played almost his entire career in man-to-man pass coverage. Won three Super Bowl rings, one with K.C. & 2 with Washington as a coach. He is now back with the Chiefs as their defensive backs coach.

CB - Albert Lewis - Another true shutdown corner, Lewis started 128 games for the Chiefs, intercepting 38 passes, recovering 9 fumbles & blocking 10 punts(returning 4 for TD). Easily one of the best special teams players in franchise history. Lewis was big for a corner at 6' 2" & 196 pounds. He didn't shy away from run support either as his 797 career tackles will attest.

S - Johnny Robinson - Second in team history with 57 interceptions. Originally drafted out of LSU as a running back, he scored 16 touchdowns running & receiving his first three season in pro football. Later moved to safety, he was elected to 7 Pro Bowls & really should be given a better shot by the seniors committee for enshrinement to the Hall of Fame. Recovered a fumble & got an interception in Super Bowl IV, playing with 3 cracked ribs. Played in the 2 longest pro football games in history, retiring after the Christmas Day double-overtime loss to Miami in the playoffs.

S - Deron Cherry - Undrafted free agent who was signed just to be a training camp punter in 1981. Hung on as a special teams player for 2 years before becoming the starting safety after Gary Barbaro departed for the USFL. He is ranked third in career interceptions with 50. He was elected to 6 Pro Bowls. He was part of the best secondary the Chiefs ever fielded.

PK - Jan Stenerud - Teams 2nd leading scorer of all time with 1,231 points. Drafted out of Montana State where he attended on a ski jumping scholarship, Stenerud was from Norway & didn't play football until his junior year in college. He was one of the first soccer-style kickers back in the 60's. He provided the first nine points in Super Bowl IV, kicking field goals of 48(SB record that stood for 25 years), 32 & 25 yards.

P - Jerrel Wilson - Known as "Thunderfoot". Wilson led the league in punting average 4 times. Elected to 3 Pro Bowls & tho there has never been a punter elected to the Hall of Fame, Wilson, along with fellow Southern Miss punter, Ray Guy, Wilson should be in Canton. They are the two best punters of all time.

RS - Dante Hall - Called himself the "X-Factor" but was tabbed "The Human Joystick" by members of the media, Hall was the best return man over a 5-year period. Drafted as a running back in the 5th round in 2000, he didn't become a return man until Dick Vermeil became Kansas City's head coach. Hall thrived, in 2003, he returned 2 punts & 2 kickoff returns for scores. His 93-yard punt return against Denver won the game for the Chiefs & later in the season he ran back a kickoff vs. the Ravens to win the game in the 4th quarter. He also scored 9 touchdowns receiving & their were a couple that were so spectacular, I believe it was on these plays he got the "Human Joystick" tag.

LS - Bobby Bell - Unlike the true specialists we've watched since the 90's, Bell played on all 8 special teams plus was a Hall of Fame linebacker. I honestly can't recall a bad snap by Bell, regardless of weather conditions. Len Dawson held for Jan Stenerud for many years & the snap was always right on the mark.

Second team coming tomorrow. More NFL news later this afternoon.


The 10-Year Patch worn
by the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.
 

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