The Kansas City Chiefs franchise has a storied history. Today’s Chiefs weren’t always the Chiefs. Originally, they were the Dallas Texans. Founded in 1959 by Lamar Hunt, the then, “Dallas Texans,” were members of the American Football League. American Football League??? Yes. The National Football League denied Lamar Hunt and other businesspeople the opportunity of expansion into the NFL at this time. Lucky for us, Lamar Hunt wasn’t the type to give up when others told him no.
Lamar’s team would remain the Dallas Texans for the 1960 to 1962 seasons in the American Football League. Before the start of the 1963 season, the Dallas Texans would be changing in more ways than one. Wanting a community that would fully support his franchise, Lamar Hunt jumped on the chance to move his team to a Midwest town starving for professional football. It just so happened that Kansas City was indeed that town.
Early in the franchise’s history, Lamar Hunt’s teams experienced a great deal of success. In the three seasons of existence, the Dallas Texans recorded two winning seasons. In 1960, the Dallas Texas finished 8-6, in 1961 6-8, and in 1962 they finished 11-3 winning their first American Football League championship. Before the first Super Bowl, Lamar Hunt’s franchise would win a total of three AFL championships.
In 1963, the new era for Lamar’s franchise began by changing its name to the Kansas City Chiefs. At that time, the Chiefs were not pounding opponents over the head in the loudest outdoor arena in the world or better known as Arrowhead stadium. It hadn’t even been thought of yet. They were punishing foes at Municipal stadium. They would not change venues until Arrowhead came into existence at the beginning of the 1972 season. Since merging into the NFL, the Chiefs have won 13 AFC West titles. To date, the Chiefs have won three Super Bowls (IV, LIV, and LVII), and have appeared in five total.
In the 60-plus years of combined football for the Texans/Chiefs, there have been a lot of great moments for the franchise. Those great moments began with a great owner believing in building a successful team when no one else wanted to give him a chance. Those great moments began with the players that were told they were not good enough for the NFL. Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson spent his first three years of professional football as a bench warmer with the Pittsburg Steelers. He only started one game in three years while in Pittsburg. The next two seasons Dawson road the bench in Cleveland for the Browns and only started one game. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Out of all the great players, offenses, and defenses in franchise history, who is the best? That is up for debate. One must take into consideration the era in that each player’s career exists or existed. When we are talking about the best offenses and defenses, it will be era related, as well. With that said, let’s make a case for who is the greatest of the Chiefs.
Let us start on the Defensive side of the ball. Many of us remember the great Chiefs’ defenses of the 1990s under coach Mary Schottenheimer that featured players like the late great Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Albert Lewis, and Kevin Ross. They were good, really good, but not better than the “Redwood Forrest.” This was the moniker given to the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense from 1966 to 1971 due to their vicious and impenetrable front seven. Hands down, this was the greatest defense constructed thus far in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. Why? There are only eleven starters on defense. Out of those eleven, there were six that would be inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame. They were defensive linemen Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, Linebackers Willie Lanier, and Bobby Bell, and defensive backs Jonny Robinson, and Emmitt Thomas. At no other point in franchise history have the Kansas City Chiefs had this many Hall of Fame players on a single team.
Now we will look at most fans’ favorite side of the ball, offense. I will admit that the Chiefs had some great offenses in the early 2000s under Dick Vermeil. First, let’s start with the best offensive line in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. The line consisted of left tackle Willie Roaf, left guard Brian Waters, center Casey Wiegmann, right guard Will Shields, and right tackle Johan Tait. Three of these guys were all-pro in 2004. Also, they had some guy playing tight end named Tony Gonzalez. This offense was electric with Priest Holmes running the rock, and Trent Green lighting up secondaries with endless amounts of time to throw the ball.
Again, that offense was great, but it wasn’t the greatest in franchise history. That accolade belongs to the 2018 offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. The 2018 offense finished first in total yardage (6,810) in the NFL, first in points scored (565), and first in points per game (35.3). Oh yeah, Patrick Mahomes became the second player in NFL history to throw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns with a passer rating of 113.8. Some will argue that the 2022 offense was better, but they had a seventeen-game regular season schedule and did not put up as many points per game.
Now that we know which defensive and offensive teams are the best in the franchise’s history, who are the top three greatest players? I have full confidence in who the #1 player is, Patrick Mahomes. If Mahomes can stay relevantly free of major injuries, he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day, but who is #2? It’s Bobby Bell. One of the greatest linebackers to step on the gridiron, Bell intercepted 26 passes as linebacker and returned six of those for touchdowns. What? You do know that this was not the pass-happy league of today’s NFL? The main form of offense was the ground game. Just think about that for a moment! So, who is the #3 all-time greatest Chief, no other than Lenny, “the cool,” Dawson? Dawson led the Chiefs to three AFL championships and two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl IV. Any person that leads you to four league titles is on the Mount Rushmore for the Kansas City Chief franchise.