The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs are a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Originally named the Dallas Texans, the club was founded by Lamar Hunt in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. In 1963, the team moved to Kansas City, Missouri and were renamed the Kansas City Chiefs.
From 1960 to 1969, the Chiefs were one of the most successful franchise in the AFL, winning the league championship three times (1963, 1966, 1969) and having an all-time record of 92-50-5. The Chiefs hold the distinction of being the second AFL team (after the New York Jets) to defeat an NFL club in an AFL-NFL World Championship Game when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Despite their success in the American Football League, their victory in Super Bowl IV remains the club's last championship to date. However, the Chiefs' fanbase is considered one of the best, with Arrowhead Stadium boasting a league best 149 game sell-out streak and a home record of 104-40 since 1990.
The Texans shared the Cotton Bowl with the NFL's cross-town competition Dallas Cowboys. While the team averaged a league-best 24,500 at the Cotton Bowl, the Texans gained less attention due to the league's relatively unknown existence. In the franchise's first two seasons, the team managed only a 14-14 record. In 1962, Hunt looked to relocate the franchise to another city and rid the team of the Cowboys' and NFL's shadow. While the Cowboys managed only a 5-8-1 record in the NFL, the Texans strolled to an 11-3 record and a berth in the team's first American Football League Championship Game against the cross-state Houston Oilers. The game was broadcast nationally, and not only did the Texans gain national attention, but also the AFL demonstrated that it was just as relevant as the NFL. With the longest game in American football, the Texans defeated the Oilers 20-17 in double-overtime. At the time, the game was the longest in professional football history until the Chiefs played the Dolphins in a 1971 game that lasted 82 minutes. It remains as the longest Pro Football Championship game ever played.
After three seasons in Dallas, it became apparent that Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex media market could not support two American football franchises, especially two from rival leagues. Lamar Hunt explored options in moving the franchise to a city in which he could commute easily from Dallas where his family was established including Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida. Persuaded by Kansas City Mayor H. Roe Bartle, Hunt agreed to move the team to the Midwest on May 22, 1963 after Mayor Bartle promised to triple the Texans' season ticket sales and help expand Municipal Stadium to house the team.
Prior to the team's move, the Kansas City Blues/Cowboys played in the NFL for two unsuccessful seasons before disbanding. Hunt made the move dependent upon the promise of Mayor Bartle and the Kansas City community to guarantee him 35,000 in season ticket sales.
Hunt, with a roster replete with players who had played college football in Texas, wanted to maintain a lineage to the team’s roots in the southern United States and wanted to call the club the "Kansas City Texans." However, the team was renamed the Kansas City Chiefs on May 26, 1963, one of the most popular suggestions Hunt received in a fan contest. The name also honored Mayor Bartle's nickname of "The Chief."
The franchise became the flagship team of the now striving American Football League, with the most playoff appearances for an AFL team (tied with Oakland), the most AFL Championships (3), and the most Super Bowl appearances. The team's dominance helped Lamar Hunt in negotiations with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to agree on an AFL-NFL merger. In the meetings between the two leagues, a merged league championship game was agreed to be played in January 1967 following the conclusion of the league's seasons. Hunt insisted on calling the game the "Super Bowl" after seeing his children playing with a popular toy at the time, a super ball.
By winning the 1966 AFL Championship Game against the defending-champion Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs were invited to play the NFL's champion Green Bay Packers in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Kansas City and Green Bay played a close game for the first half, but Green Bay took control in the final two quarters, winning the game by a score of 35-10. The Chiefs lost the game but it was not the last time that they would face an NFL opponent, especially on the championship stage. Kansas City hosted the NFL's Chicago Bears in the 1967 pre-season and won the game 66-24.
Despite losing to the division rival Oakland Raiders twice in the regular season in 1969, the two teams met for a third time in the 1969 post-season in the AFL Championship Game where Kansas City won 17-7. Backup quarterback Mike Livingston engineered a five-game winning streak after Len Dawson suffered a leg injury. While getting plenty of help from the club’s defense, Dawson returned from the injury and led the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl. Against the NFL's heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings, the Chiefs dominated the game 23-7 to claim the team's first (and to date only) Super Bowl championship. The following season, the Chiefs and the rest of the American Football Legaue joined the National Football League after the AFL-NFL merger became official.
In 1972, the Chiefs moved into the newly constructed Arrowhead Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex outside of Downtown Kansas City. The team's first game at Arrowhead was against the St. Louis Cardinals, a game which the Chiefs won 24-14.
The Chiefs would not return to the post-season for the remainder of the 1970s, and the 1973 season was the team's last winning effort for seven years. Hank Stram was fired following a 5-9 season in 1974, and many of the Chiefs' future Hall of Fame players would depart by the middle of the decade.
Third-year head coach Marv Levy and new starting quarterback Bill Kenney led the Chiefs to an 8-8 record in 1980. Breakout running back Joe Delaney rushed for 1,121 yards and was named the AFC Rookie of the Year. The Chiefs finished the season with a 9-7 record and entered the 1982 season with optimism. However, the NFL Players Association strike curbed the Chiefs' chances of returning to the postseason. By employing replacement players, the Chiefs tallied a 3-6 record. In the offseason, Joe Delaney died in a drowning accident, and the team's hopes for a bright future were once again derailed.
The Chiefs made a big blunder in the 1983 NFL Draft by selecting quarterback Todd Blackledge over future greats such as Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. Blackledge never stayed as the Chiefs' starting quarterback while both Kelly and Marino played Hall of Fame careers. The Chiefs however, did have a great selection of defensive players that were Pro Bowl staples in the 1980s such as Bill Maas, Albert Lewis, Art Still and Deron Cherry.
John Mackovic took over head coaching duties after Marv Levy was fired following the 1982 season. Over the next four seasons, Mackovic coached the Chiefs to a 30-34 record, but the team's first post-season appearance in 15 years. Mackovic himself was relied of his coaching duties, and two short seasons with Frank Gansz as head coach, the franchise began to prepare for a major housecleaning.
On December 19, 1988, Lamar Hunt hired Carl Peterson as the team's new president/general manager. Peterson wasted no time in making changes, and on January 5 he fired head coach Frank Gansz two weeks after taking over. On January 24 he hired Marty Schottenheimer as the club's seventh head coach. The duo began to rebuild the Chiefs' roster and credibility in the NFL by drafting from the bottom up. In the 1989 and 1990 NFL Drafts, the Chiefs selected a player that would serve alongside 1988's top selection, DE Neil Smith as the team's foundation in the next decade—LB Derrick Thomas.
From 1989 to 1998, Schottenheimer's tenure as the Chiefs' head coach, the team recorded a 101-58-1 record, and clinched 7 playoff berths. The Chiefs re-established a strong fan base, and Arrowhead Stadium quickly began to sell out every home game, a streak still alive nearly 20 years later. The Chiefs' popularity rose in the 1990s with their "college football game atmosphere" and strong fanbase. Much of the "college atmosphere" has arrived due to the popularity of local Big 12 college football games, often held at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs used a "Big 12" formula in rebuilding their team with players from the local universities throughout the nineties, such as Neil Smith and Will Shields, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Chiefs' 1993 season was the franchise's most successful in 22 years. With newly-acquired quarterback Joe Montana and running back Marcus Allen—two former superstar Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champions—the Chiefs once again returned to relevance in the NFL. The 11-5 Chiefs defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers on their way to an AFC Championship game appearance against the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were overwhelmed by the Bills in their first league championship game in 24 years, and lost the game 30-13. The team's victory on January 14, 1994 remains the franchise's last post-season victory to date (as of 2008).
In the 1996 post-season, the 13-3 Chiefs hosted the wild card Indianapolis Colts in a cold, damp night game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City lost the game 10-7 against the underdog Colts after kicker Lin Elliot missed three field goal attempts.
Following a 1998 season full of injuries to starting quarterback Elvis Grbac, backup quarterback Rich Gannon took the reins of the Chiefs' offense and led the team to the playoffs. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer controversially chose Grbac to start the playoff game against the Denver Broncos despite Gannon playing in the previous game. The choice to play Grbac over Gannon still remains controversial in the minds of fans to this day, as Grbac's production in the game was lacking.
Coach Schottenheimer announced his resignation from the Chiefs following the 1998 season, and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham took over coaching duties for the next two seasons, compiling a 16-16 record. By the end of the Chiefs' decade of regular-season dominance, Neil Smith departed for the division rival Denver Broncos, which lent a major blow to the Chiefs' run defense.
Kansas City also had no stability at quarterback with Steve Bono, Rich Gannon, and Elvis Grbac attempting to fill the void that Joe Montana left upon his retirement in 1994. The team's offense could not balance out their blooming defense in the playoffs with Schottenheimer's "Marty Ball" offensive scheme.
Another tragedy that the Chiefs endured occurred on January 23, 2000 when the team's Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Thomas was in a severe car accident which left him paralyzed. Thomas died weeks later and the team fell apart in his absence. Coach Cunningham was fired following the 2000 season, and a search began for the team's ninth head coach.
It took two seasons for the Chiefs' offense under Al Saunders to get rolling, and by the time the 2003 season began, the Chiefs began the season untouchable.
Within two weeks of Dick Vermeil's resignation, then-New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards had signed a new 4-year contract to coach the Chiefs. The negotiations with Edwards were controversial, as the Chiefs were deemed to be tampering with the Jets' head coach while he was still under contract. The 2006 Chiefs featured a weak outline of their previous offensive dominance, and the departure of left tackle Willie Roaf left a hole in the Chiefs' solid running game. Quarterback Trent Green suffered a severe concussion in the team's season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals which left him out of play for 8 weeks, leaving an even bigger blow to Kansas City's offense. No matter how much worry consumed Chiefs fans, backup quarterback Damon Huard took over in Green's absence and led the Chiefs to a winning record. Green returned by the end of the season, but struggled in the final stretch. Running back Larry Johnson still thrived in coach Edwards' offense which relied on a stiff running game and solid defensive ball control.
Kansas City was awarded a Thanksgiving night game against the Denver Broncos in response to owner Lamar Hunt's lobbying for the game to be held at Arrowhead Stadium. Hunt was hospitalized at the time of the game and died weeks later on December 13, 2006 due to complications brought on by a ten-year battle with prostate cancer. The Chiefs honored their owner for the remainder of the season, as did the rest of the league.
Kansas City managed to clinch their first playoff berth in 3 seasons with a 9-7 record following their owner's death. Entering the post-season, Kansas City's running game featuring Larry Johnson was matched up against the Indianapolis Colts' weak run defense and from the regular season. No matter how weak the Colts' defense was in the regular season, they shut down Johnson with under 100 yards rushing, and defeated Kansas City 23-8 in the wild card round.
The team is committed to giving the third-year player the first crack at the job. Following the Chiefs' dismal 2007 season, head coach Herman Edwards and general manager Carl Peterson could be on the hot seat. Peterson and Edwards should be safe unless absolutely zero progress is made this season. However, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt has expressed his intent for a winning team in 2008.
Coming into the season, Kansas City had been dealt nine consecutive losses, dating back to the 2007 season. Their losing streak would expand to a franchise record twelve with three straight losses to the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, and division rivals the Oakland Raiders. However, their losing streak would end on September 28, 2008 with a 33–19 win against the Denver Broncos.
Note: The Finish, Wins, Losses, and Ties columns list regular season results and exclude any postseason play.
|Super Bowl Champions (1970–present)||Conference Champions||Division Champions||Wild Card Berth|
|Season||Team||League||Conference||Division||Regular season||Post Season Results||Awards|
|2003||2003||NFL||AFC||West||1st||13||3||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 38–31|| Will Shields (MOY)|
Dick Vermeil (MFC COY)
|2006||2006||NFL||AFC||West||2nd||9||7||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Colts) 23–8|
|2007||2007||NFL||AFC||West||3rd||4||12||0||Dwayne Bowe (ROTW x2)|
|Total||379||333||12||(1960–2007, includes only regular season)|
|8||13||0||(1960–2007, includes only playoffs)|
|387||346||12||(1960–2007, includes both regular season and playoffs; 3 AFL Championships, 1 Super Bowl Championship)|
Unlike several NFL franchises, the Chiefs' uniform design has essentially remained the same throughout the club's history. It consists of a red helmet, and either red or white jerseys with the opposite color numbers and names. White pants were used with both jerseys until 1969, when red pants were used with the white jerseys.
Even though many NFL teams in recent years have worn their dark jerseys with their dark pants, the Chiefs have to yet to unveil an all-red combination. When the Chiefs wear their red uniforms, they always wear white pants. The Chiefs have never worn an alternate jersey in a game, although gold jerseys with red numbers trimmed in white, and black jerseys with red numbers trimmed in gold, are sold for retail. Since 2006, the Chiefs have alternatively worn an all-white uniform combination, as it was owner Lamar Hunt's favorite design.
In 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs honored the late Lamar Hunt and the AFL with a special patch. Starting in 2008, the patch will be permanently affixed to the left chest of both Kansas City's home and away jerseys.
As of the end of the 2007 season, Arrowhead Stadium has a consecutive sell-out record of 149 games (18 seasons) dating back to the home opener in 1990.
Arrowhead has long held a reputation for being one of the loudest outdoor stadiums in the NFL due to the exuberance of the Chiefs' fans. Noise generated from the fans was once measured at 116 decibels by the Acoustical Design Group of Mission, KS. This contributes to the unique "atmosphere" of the stadium, for which Sports Illustrated in 2005 gave the Chiefs' home field, Arrowhead Stadium, the title of being the "toughest place to play" for opposing teams.
Arrowhead Stadium's tailgating environment is often compared to a "college football" atmosphere. Fans arrive hours before gametime and even stay in the parking lot hours after the game has ended. Some Chiefs fans are so devoted that some sit in the parking lot and listen to the game even without tickets. Arrowhead Stadium features frequent fly-bys from a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base.
At the end of the "Star Spangled Banner," Chiefs fans intentionally yell "and the home of the CHIEFS!" where traditionally "the brave" is sung. This has led to some controversy, especially when Chiefs fans attend away games and continue the tradition. Only after the September 11, 2001 attacks did Chiefs fans refrain from doing so in honor of those who lost their lives, and continued to do so for the remainder of the 2001 season. The September 23, 2001 home game versus the New York Giants was one of the few known times in Chiefs history where the home crowd welcomed an opposing team onto the field without booing.
For numerous years up through the 2005 season after every Chiefs touchdown the crowd would chant "We're gonna beat the hell outta you...you...you, you, you, you" over Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2." The chant has been said to have originated from a similar chant (excluding profanity) from Wichita State University's fans at their now-defunct football program's games. Beginning with the 2006 season, the Chiefs organization has opted to honor the NFL's request that this song no longer be played at games following Glitter's criminal activity.
After a vote was taken for the new touchdown song, Chiefs fans chose "Boom" by P.O.D. as the song to replace Glitter's song. "Red" by Sammy Hagar came in second in voting, and "Elevation" by U2 finished third. Though to satisfy fans not willing to lose a tradition, in the first game of the 2006 NFL season, a cover rendition of "Rock and Roll Part 2" performed by Tube Tops 2000 was played, complete with the fan's chant. The song has been played at every home game since.
DiPardo performed "Taps" on his trumpet at the December 31, 2006 Chiefs game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in tribute to Lamar Hunt, owner and founder of the Chiefs who had died weeks before. DiPardo suffered a wrist injury in December 2007 and his health has declined since. In March 2008 Tony was admitted to a Kansas City hospital and is in serious condition. DiPardo's daughter, Patti DiPardo-Livergood, has directed the "TD Pack Band" since 1989, although Tony still plays his signature red lacquer trumpet in the band. Livergood sings the National Anthem at select Chiefs games throughout the season. Outside of Arrowhead Stadium, the main stage live band on gamedays is "The Kansas City All Stars."
Since the 1989 NFL season, KCFX, a.k.a "101 The Fox", has broadcast all Chiefs games under the moniker of The Chiefs Radio Network. Since 1994, Mitch Holthus has served as play-by-play announcer as Super Bowl IV MVP Len Dawson serves as color commentator. Former Chiefs longsnapper Kendall Gammon serves as the field reporter. Former Chiefs broadcaster Bill Grigsby adds memories and perspective on game day.
KCFX holds rights to Chiefs games through the 2009 season, and the Chiefs and KCFX hold the distinction of being the longest FM radio broadcast partnering tenure in the NFL. The Chiefs Radio Network extends throughout the six-state region of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, with 61 affiliate stations.
The Chiefs' mascot at Municipal Stadium from 1963 until 1989 was Warpaint, a nickname given to two different breeds of pinto horse. The first Warpaint (born 1955) was ridden bareback by rider Bob Johnson who wore a full Native American headdress. Warpaint circled the field at the beginning of each Chiefs home game and performed victory laps following each Chiefs touchdown. The Chiefs have considered reviving the Warpaint mascot in the near future.
In the mid-1980s, the Chiefs featured a short-lived unnamed "Indian man" mascot which was scrapped when general manager Carl Peterson arrived in 1988. In 1989, Warpaint and the short-lived unnamed "Indian man" mascot were replaced by K. C. Wolf, portrayed by Dan Meers in a wolf costume. The mascot was named after the Chiefs' "Wolfpack," a group of rapid fans from the team's days at Municipal Stadium. K. C. Wolf is one of the most popular NFL mascots and was the league's first mascot inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Chiefs have employed a cheerleading squad since the team's inception in 1960. In the team's early days, the all-female squad was referred to as the "Chiefettes." A brief period in the 1980s featured male cheerleaders for the Chiefs, but the move did not last, and the team now features an all-female team now simply known as the "Chiefs Cheerleaders."
When the team was based in Dallas, the team conducted their inaugural training camp at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. They moved camp to Southern Methodist University, owner Lamar Hunt's alma mater, for 1961 and continued to practice there until 1965. From 1966 to 1971, the Chiefs practiced in downtown Kansas City, and from 1972 to 1991 the Chiefs held camp at William Jewell College in Clay County, Missouri—where Lamar Hunt had extensive business dealings including Worlds of Fun, Oceans of Fun and SubTropolis.
The Kansas City Chiefs feature thirty-nine former players and franchise contributors in their team hall of fame. Several of the team's names are featured at Arrowhead Stadium in a "ring of honor." A new member has been inducted in an annual ceremony, with the exception of the 1983 season.
1970 Lamar Hunt, team founder and owner
1971 #36 Mack Lee Hill, Running back
1972 #75 Jerry Mays, Defensive tackle
1973 #84 Fred Arbanas, Tight end
1974 #42 Johnny Robinson, Safety
1975 #88 Chris Burford, Wide receiver
1976 #55 E.J. Holub, Center/Linebacker
1977 #77 Jim Tyrer, Offensive tackle
1978 #21 Mike Garrett, Running back
1979 #16 Len Dawson, Quarterback 1980s
1980 #78 Bobby Bell, Linebacker
1981 #86 Buck Buchanan, Defensive tackle
1982 #89 Otis Taylor, Wide receiver
1983 No induction
1984 #71 Ed Budde, Guard
1985 #63 Willie Lanier, Linebacker
1986 #18 Emmitt Thomas, Cornerback
1987 Hank Stram, Coach
1988 #44 Jerrel Wilson, Punter
1989 #14 Ed Podolak, Running back