In 1963, there were very few, if any, Chiefs’ fans outside the borders of Kansas and Missouri. With early success in the 1960s, the franchise began to grow its footprint. Led by the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, the Chiefs were a powerhouse. Like most successful teams, they tend to be as good as the play of their quarterback.
Unfortunately, all players begin to digress as they get older, and this was the case for Dawson, as well. He retired from the NFL after the 1974 season. Lenny, the cool,” Dawson held on as long as he could hoping that the Chiefs would eventually draft his successor. In the last two seasons of Dawson’s career, the Chiefs went 7-5-2 and 5-9. Between 1975 and 1989, the Chiefs had a total of two winning seasons. Yes, I said two winning seasons in fifteen years.
All the momentum that the Chiefs had built up in the early years, methodically diminished in one and a half decades. Being the bottom dwellers for most of those seasons, the Chiefs’ fan base was starving for any hint of success. That success came with a new and defensive-minded coach by the name of Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer was old-school in his approach and a believer in smash-mouth football. This style made an immediate impact on the franchise as Marty Schottenheimer rendered an 8-7-1 winning record in his first year as head coach.
There was no doubt that Marty was a defense-first-minded coach, and that was evident with the first draft pick as the Commander-in-chief. With the fourth overall selection in the 1989 NFL draft, Marty and the Chiefs selected future hall-of-fame linebacker, Derrick Thomas. Thomas would be paired with another defensive menace in Neil Smith. They would become the most feared pass-rushing duo in the 1990s.
The defense not only turned the tides for the franchise, but it opened the door to a monster. That monster is the loudest outdoor stadium in the entire world. Arrowhead became the most intimidating home-field advantage in the NFL and the Red Kingdom was born. From 1989 to 1999, the Chiefs had a top-10 defense on six different occasions and finished as the top overall defense in 1995 and 1997. Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith are the third-best duos of pass rushers in NFL history.
Marty-ball and the Chiefs’ success on defense spread the love for the Red Kingdom further than it’s ever been previously. Fans from all over the Midwest began to claim the Chiefs. As I drove through Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, and even Oklahoma, Chiefs’ gear was popping up everywhere. For the first time in the franchise’s history, the arrowhead on the side of the Chiefs’ helmet was recognizable beyond the borders of Kansas and Missouri.
With such a great rise of recognition that the 1990s brought the Kansas City Chiefs; the team would soon find themselves back into the realm of mediocracy. There were glimpses of success from 2000 to 2012, but the franchise appeared to be spinning its wheels. Whether it was personnel or coaches, the franchise was unable to put it all together to sustain a legitimate level of success. The Red Kingdom hadn’t seen a playoff win since 1993. Even though times were dark, the sunrise was on its way to Kansas City.
Arguably, the greatest hire in Chiefs’ franchise history came in the way of head coach Andy Reid. Reid spent the previous thirteen years as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. There, he led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, five NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl appearance. The city of brotherly love can be a city of no love. With Reid not being able to win the big game in Philly, they were quick to run him out of town despite taking the franchise to its highest levels of success.
Understanding the greatness of Andy Reid, Clark Hunt wasted no time in pursuing the ex-Eagles coach. Thank you, Clark Hunt!!! Knowing Reid would be an instant upgrade and change in the current culture, Hunt presented Reid as the thirteenth head coach in the franchise’s history in 2013. Finally, what the Chiefs’ franchise had been wanting over 40 years for, sustained success had arrived.
In the ten years with Andy Reid in Kansas City, he has led the Chiefs to seven consecutive AFC West titles, nine playoff appearances, five consecutive AFC Championship games, three Super Bowl appearances, and two Super Bowl victories. He did not do this alone. He had some help from a guy that was drafted tenth overall in the 2017 NFL draft, Patrick Mahomes. Together, they have created a magical machine that is pumping out win after win.
The success of the Reid and Mahomes pairing has taken the Red Kingdom to places we could have never imagined. From two fly-over states in the middle of the U.S., the Kingdom now expands the entire United States. There are Chiefs’ bars all over the country like Don’s Club Tavern in Denver, The Boardwalk in San Diego, Fade Away Sports Bar & Grill in Ft. Myers, Village Pourhouse in New York, Fat Daddy’s Pub in Tulsa, Rudino’s Sports Deck in North Carolina, and Big Charlie’s Saloon in Philadelphia.
It doesn’t stop there. The Red Kingdom has gone global. The Chiefs will play a game in Germany during the 2023 season. This may surprise you, but there is a huge fanbase established in Germany and many other countries outside of North American. Patrick Mahomes is a megastar, and he carries the Chiefs’ brand. With the expansion of the Red Kingdom laying on the shoulders of Mahomes, there are no limits to where it could expand to.