Growing up in Kansas City exposed me to two of my greatest love affairs early on in life – Great barbecue and Chiefs football. Kansas City is home to some of the most famous barbecue in the country and also home to one of the greatest fan bases in all of football. The Chiefs’ fan base has remained loyal to their hometown team through numerous letdowns and heartbreaking moments. However, they stand by their team because the Chiefs have been a part of some of the most memorable moments in NFL history. I grew up in the Chiefs Kingdom, so a few of the best moments throughout the history of the Chiefs have played out before my eyes. I have narrowed down these moments into the greatest ten.
- The Chiefs and the Dolphins compete in the longest game ever played
- Chiefs trade for Joe Montana
- Chiefs sign Marcus Allen
- Chiefs draft Tony Gonzalez
- Chiefs sign Priest Holmes
10. Dallas Texans Relocate To Kansas City
Lamar Hunt founded the Dallas Texans in 1960 and three years later decided to move his new team north, to Kansas City, Missouri. Almost as soon as they set up camp in their new home, the newly christened Chiefs became one of the powerhouses of the AFL. The Chiefs were the champions of the AFL twice within the first six years of being in Kansas City before the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. As time continues to move forward, the memory of the beloved Chiefs ever planting their stake anywhere but Kansas City fades with each generation of fan but without this moment, the Chiefs Kingdom never exists.
9. Kansas City Cuts Larry Johnson Mid-Season
The Kansas City Chiefs have a long list of great running backs including the likes of Ed Podolak, Christian Okoye, and Marcus Allen. Larry Johnson is a part of that list due to back-to-back 1,700-yard seasons in the mid-2000’s.
Johnson took over the starting role after Priest Holmes suffered an injury and quickly made the most of his opportunity. However, Johnson seemed to wear out his welcome in Kansas City just as quick after a number of injuries, holdouts, and suspensions. Johnson was within 75 yards of breaking the Chiefs’ career rushing record, held by fan-favorite Holmes when general manager Scott Pioli decided to waive Johnson in the middle of the 2009 season. This move ultimately propelled 2008 third rounder Jamaal Charles into the starting role. Charles eventually would go on to break Priest Holmes’ record and could one day end up in Canton. Without Larry Johnson’s demise, the Chiefs may have never been able to unleash Charles on the rest of the football world.
8. The Chiefs Start The Season 9-0 in 2003
During the 1990’s, the Kansas City Chiefs were one of the most successful teams in the NFL. Entering the new millennium, the Chiefs had been in a rebuilding stage. The trade for veteran quarterback Trent Green, the hiring of Super Bowl head coach Dick Vermeil, and the signing of free agent running back Priest Holmes turned the tide for the Chiefs. Those three along with all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez and the best offensive line in football gave the Chiefs the league’s best offense in 2002 but still were only able to finish with an 8-8 record. In 2003, the Chiefs began the season with nine straight wins and posted the best record in football through the first ten weeks of the season. It was an exciting time to be a Chiefs fan and we felt like our team was finally back. The Chiefs wrapped up the season with a 13-3 record and lost a heartbreaking shootout to Peyton Manning and the Colts in the playoffs. The fond memories of that 2003 season still remain and is one of the best seasons any Chiefs team has put together.
7. Andy Reid Hired As Head Coach
Andy Reid was the longest tenured head coach in 2012 having spent 14 years with the Philadelphia Eagles but that was over when the Eagles decided to go in a new direction and let Reid go. Media and analysts alike saw it as a foregone conclusion that Reid was inking a deal with the Arizona Cardinals to be their next head coach. That did not happen as the Chiefs brought in Reid to interview for their head coaching vacancy. Within 24 hours, the Chiefs had swooped in and lured Reid to Kansas City with a young roster and the power to find his own general manager. Reid is still at the helm of the Chiefs and has taken them to the playoffs every year but one and in that one year the Chiefs still posted a winning record. Reid has recently signed a contract extension to stay in Kansas City and the future looks bright.
6. Chiefs End Playoff Win Drought
The year was 1993 and the Chiefs were led by quarterback Joe Montana, running back Marcus Allen, and head coach Marty Schottenheimer. It was also the last time the Chiefs had won a playoff game. Fast forward to 2015 and the Kansas City Chiefs were back in the playoffs. It had been 22 years since the Chiefs had won a playoff game but on January 9th, 2016 that all came to an end. In a wild card game against the Houston Texans, the Chiefs would dominate from beginning to end. The Chiefs ended their playoff win drought with an impressive 30-0 victory and finally got the monkey off of their back.
5. Kansas City Draft’s Derrick Thomas
The Chiefs were a very successful team in the sixties and the early seventies. The eighties were a different story, however, but in the 1989 NFL Draft, the Chiefs made possibly their greatest pick ever when they took a linebacker out of Alabama named Derrick Thomas. The fortunes of the Chiefs seemed to turn immediately. In his first year as a Chief, Thomas tallied 10 sacks and 75 tackles on his way to earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He also made the Pro Bowl, the first Chiefs linebacker to do so since Bobby Bell in 1972.
Thomas would go on to have a Hall of Fame career and also gave so much to the Kansas City community. He gave his time and donated so much to a number of charities and also started the Derrick Thomas Third and Long Foundation which is aimed to “sack literacy” among middle school aged children. Thomas tragically passed away in 2000 due to complications from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. Still, to this day when you attend a Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium, you see more #58 jerseys than any other, as “DT” is still one of the most beloved Chiefs’ players of all time.
4. Eric Berry Returns To The Field
Eric Berry is one of the best safeties in the game and an obvious fan favorite in Kansas City. In 2014, doctors discovered a cancerous mass in Berry’s chest that turned out to be a form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Berry went through chemotherapy treatment and nine months later he was declared cancer free. He returned to action in 2015 and remarkably had one of the greatest years any Chiefs player has had. He earned a pro bowl nod and also was named a first team all pro at the years conclusion. Berry remains a Chief and is one of the best stories in the history of the NFL.
3. Hank Stram Is Hired As Head Coach
Lamar Hunt formed the Dallas Texans in 1960 and needed a head coach to lead his new team. After a couple of declines from other candidates, Hunt offered the job to Hank Stram, an assistant coach at the University of Miami. Stram took the job and made the Texans/Chiefs one of the most successful teams in all of football. He took them to two Super Bowls while winning one of them. He also won the AFL Championship three times, is in the NFL Hall of Fame, and still tops the list of most wins by a head coach in Chiefs history with 124 victories. Hunt hit a home run with his first head coach hire and Stram set the bar for every other coach that has followed him.
2. Kansas City Chiefs Represent The AFL In Super Bowl I
In the 1960’s, the upstart AFL and the more established NFL agreed to play each other in a “winner-take-all” game to end the season. The Green Bay Packers represented the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs represented the AFL. The game was expected to be a blow out in favor of the Packers. The Chiefs stuck around with the Packers and went into halftime down 14-10. During the second half, the Packers proved to be too much for the Chiefs as they outscored them 21-0. Even though the Chiefs lost the very first Super Bowl 35-10, they still are a huge part of history and take a ton of pride in being a part of the first Super Bowl.
1. Chiefs Win Super Bowl IV / 65 Toss Power Trap
In 1969, the last season before the NFL/AFL merger, the Chiefs represented the AFL in the championship game for the second time in four years. Going against the Minnesota Vikings, the Chiefs were two touchdown underdogs but Kansas City had other plans. The Chiefs took an early 9-0 lead. Thanks to a costly turnover by the Vikings, the Chiefs got the ball with great field position. On third down, Hank Stram called a play for running back Mike Garrett that has lived in infamy ever since (thanks to NFL Films for hooking a microphone up to Stram).
65 toss power trap worked to perfection as Garrett galloped through the hole that Mo Moorman provided and the Chiefs took a 16-0 lead. The Vikings closed the gap with a touchdown in the third quarter. However, on the next possession, quarterback Len Dawson hit Otis Taylor on a quick pass and Taylor did the rest by taking the ball down the sideline 46 yards while breaking two tackles on his way to the end zone. It clinched the Chiefs only Super Bowl victory with a 23-7 win and cemented the Kansas City Chiefs in the history books forever.