I’ve never been a big fan of sports. I only watch baseball and American football (and whatever Olympic Games sports broadcast in English in Thailand). Despite having been born in Dallas, I was never that big of a Cowboys fan. We moved away from Texas before I turned turn years old. Yet, I am a diehard fan of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs; to this day, these are the only two teams I care about. If the Royals or the Chiefs aren’t playing, I’m not in the least bit interested (yes, I do watch the Super Bowl but I’m more involved in the advertisements and the Halftime entertainment than the game). I believe I attended my first Royals game shortly after we moved to the area in August 1977. My first game at Arrowhead Stadium was the following year, November 1978. I’ve suffered the fans’ disappointments and brief glimmers of hope for 40 years. This season of 2018 has been the greatest time to be a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs probably since their last trip to the Super Bowl way back in 1970.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Chiefs compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference (AFC) West division. The team was founded in 1960 as the Dallas Texans by businessman Lamar Hunt and was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). In 1963, the team relocated to Kansas City and assumed their current name. The Chiefs joined the NFL as a result of the merger in 1970. The team is valued at over $2 billion. Hunt’s son, Clark, serves as chairman and CEO. While Hunt’s ownership stakes passed collectively to his widow and children after his death in 2006, Clark represents the Chiefs at all league meetings and has ultimate authority on personnel changes.
The Chiefs have won three AFL championships, in 1962, 1966, and 1969 and became the second AFL team (after the New York Jets) to defeat an NFL team in an AFL–NFL World Championship Game, when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. The team’s victory on January 11, 1970, remains the club’s last championship game victory and appearance to date, and occurred in the final such competition prior to the leagues’ merger coming into full effect. The Chiefs were also the second team, after the Green Bay Packers, to appear in more than one Super Bowl (and the first AFL team to do so) and the first to appear in the championship game in two different decades. Despite post-season success early in the franchise’s history, the team has struggled to find success in the playoffs since. As of the conclusion of the 2017–2018 playoffs, they had lost 11 of their last 12 playoff games including eight straight from 1993–2015. That curse was broken yesterday, January 12, 2019.
In 1959, Lamar Hunt began discussions with other businessmen to establish a professional football league that would rival the National Football League. Hunt’s desire to secure a football team was heightened after watching the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts. After unsuccessful attempts to purchase and relocate the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals to his hometown of Dallas, Texas, Hunt went to the NFL and asked to create an expansion franchise in Dallas. The NFL turned him down, so Hunt then established the American Football League and started his own team, the Dallas Texans, to begin play in 1960. Hunt hired a little-known assistant coach from the University of Miami football team, Hank Stram, to be the team’s head coach after the job offer was declined by Bud Wilkinson and Tom Landry.
After Stram was hired, Don Klosterman was hired as head scout, credited by many for bringing a wealth of talent to the Texans after luring it away from the NFL, often hiding players and using creative means to land them.
The Texans shared the Cotton Bowl with the NFL’s cross-town competition Dallas Cowboys for three seasons. The Texans were to have exclusive access to the stadium until the NFL put an expansion team, the Dallas Cowboys, there. While the team averaged a league-best 24,500 at the Cotton Bowl, the Texans gained less attention due to the AFL’s relatively lower profile compared to the NFL. In the franchise’s first two seasons, the team managed only an 8–6 and 6–8 record, respectively. In their third season, the Texans strolled to an 11–3 record and a berth in the team’s first American Football League Championship Game, against the Houston Oilers. Played on December 23, 1962, the game was broadcast nationally on ABC and the Texans defeated the Oilers 20–17 in double overtime. The game lasted 77 minutes and 54 seconds, which still stands as the longest championship game in professional football history.
It turned out to be the last game the team would play as the Dallas Texans. Despite competing against a Cowboys team that managed only a 9–28–3 record in their first three seasons, Hunt decided that the Dallas–Fort Worth media market could not sustain two professional football franchises. He considered moving the Texans to either Atlanta or Miami for the 1963 season. However, he was ultimately swayed by an offer from Kansas City Mayor Harold Roe Bartle. Bartle promised to triple the franchise’s season ticket sales and expand the seating capacity of Municipal Stadium to accommodate the team.
Hunt agreed to relocate the franchise to Kansas City on May 22, 1963, and on May 26 the team was renamed the Kansas City Chiefs. Hunt and head coach Hank Stram initially planned to retain the Texans name, but a fan contest determined the new “Chiefs” name in honor of Mayor Bartle’s nickname that he acquired in his professional role as Scout Executive of the St. Joseph and Kansas City Boy Scout Councils and founder of the Scouting Society, the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. A total of 4,866 entries were received with 1,020 different names being suggested, including a total of 42 entrants who selected “Chiefs.” The two names that received the most popular votes were “Mules” and “Royals” (which, six years later, would become the name of the city’s Major League Baseball expansion franchise in 1969, after the Athletics left Kansas City for Oakland following the 1967 season).
The franchise became one of the strongest teams in the now thriving American Football League, with the most playoff appearances for an AFL team (tied with the Oakland Raiders), and the most AFL Championships (3). The team’s dominance helped Lamar Hunt become a central figure 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 leagues’ respective 1966 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. While the first few games were designated the “AFL–NFL World Championship Game”, the Super Bowl name became its officially licensed title in years to come.
The Chiefs cruised to an 11–2–1 record in 1966, and defeated the defending AFL Champion Buffalo Bills in the AFL Championship Game. The Chiefs were invited to play the NFL’s league champion Green Bay Packers in the first AFL–NFL World Championship Game on January 15, 1967. 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 gained the respect of several Packers opponents following the game. The Chiefs’ interleague match-up with the Packers was not the last time that they would face an NFL opponent, especially on the championship stage. The following August, Kansas City hosted the NFL’s Chicago Bears in the 1967 preseason 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 AFL Championship Game where Kansas City won 17–7. Backup quarterback Mike Livingston led the team in a six-game winning streak after Len Dawson suffered a leg injury which kept him out of most of the season’s games. While getting plenty of help from the club’s defense, Dawson returned from the injury and led the Chiefs to Super Bowl IV, played on January 11, 1970, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Against the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings, who were favored by 12½, the Chiefs dominated the game 23–7 to claim the team’s first Super Bowl championship. Dawson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after completing 12-of-17 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown, with 1 interception.
The following season, the Chiefs and the rest of the American Football League merged with the National Football League after the AFL–NFL merger became official. The Chiefs were placed in the American Football Conference’s West Division.
From 1960 to 1969, the Chiefs/Texans won 87 games, which is the most in the 10-year history of the AFL. In 1970, the Chiefs won only seven games in their first season in the NFL and missed the playoffs. The following season, the Chiefs tallied a 10–3–1 record and won the AFC West Division. Head coach Hank Stram considered his 1971 Chiefs team as his best, but they failed to capture their championship dominance from 1969. Most of the pieces of the team which won Super Bowl IV two years earlier were still in place for the 1971 season. The Chiefs tied with the Miami Dolphins for the best record in the AFC, and both teams met in a Christmas Day playoff game which the Chiefs lost 27–24 in double overtime. The Dolphins outlasted the Chiefs with a 37-yard field goal. The game surpassed the 1962 AFL Championship Game as the longest ever at 82 minutes and 40 seconds. The game was also the final football game at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium.
Municipal Stadium, built in 1923 and mostly rebuilt in 1955, seated approximately 35,000 for football. As part of the AFL–NFL merger announced in 1966, NFL stadiums would be required to seat no fewer than 50,000 people. The City of Kansas City was unable to find a suitable location for a new stadium, so Jackson County stepped in and offered a location on the eastern edge of Kansas City near the interchange of Interstate 70 and Interstate 435. Voters approved a $102 million bond issue in 1967 to build a new sports complex with two stadiums. The original design called for construction of side-by-side baseball and football stadiums with a common roof that would roll between them. The design proved to be more complicated and expensive than originally thought and so was scrapped in favor of the current open-air configuration. The two-stadium complex concept was the first of its kind. The Chiefs staff, led by team general manager Jack Steadman, helped develop the complex.
Construction began in 1968. The original two-stadium concept was initially designed by Denver architect Charles Deaton and Steadman. Deaton’s design was implemented by the Kansas City architectural firm of Kivett & Myers. Arrowhead is considered by some to have had an influence on the design of several future NFL stadiums. Construction on Arrowhead Stadium in the Truman Sports Complex was completed in time for the 1972 season. On August 12, 1972, the Chiefs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 24–14 in the first preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium. Later on during the 1972 regular season, the largest crowd to see a game in Arrowhead Stadium was 82,094 in a Chiefs game against the Oakland Raiders on November 5.
Linebacker Willie Lanier and quarterback Len Dawson won the NFL Man of the Year Award in 1972 and 1973, respectively. 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. In 1973, Arrowhead Stadium became the first in the NFL to include arrows on the yard markers to indicate the nearer goal line (initially, they resembled little Indian arrowheads). This practice would eventually spread to the other NFL stadiums throughout the 1970s, becoming mandatory league-wide in the 1978 season (after first being used in Super Bowl XII), and become almost near-universal at the lower levels of football.
On January 20, 1974, Arrowhead Stadium hosted the Pro Bowl. Due to an ice storm and brutally cold temperatures the week leading up to the game, the game’s participants worked out at the facilities of the San Diego Chargers. On game day, the temperature soared to 41°, melting most of the ice and snow that accumulated during the week. The AFC defeated the NFC, 15–13.
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. From 1975 to 1988, the Chiefs had become a laughing stock of the NFL and provided Chiefs fans with nothing but futility. Five head coaches struggled to achieve the same success as Stram, compiling an 81–121–1 record.
In 1980, Coach Marv Levy cut future Hall of Fame Kicker Jan Stenerud for little known Nick Lowery, who would become the most accurate kicker in NFL History over the next 14 years. In 1981, 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 for the first time in over a decade. The Chiefs tallied a 3–6 record and in the off-season, Joe Delaney died while trying to save several children from drowning in a pond near his home in Louisiana.
The Chiefs made a mistake in drafting quarterback Todd Blackledge over future greats such as Jim Kelly and Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft. Blackledge never started a full season for Kansas City while Kelly and Marino played Hall of Fame careers. While the Chiefs struggled on offense in the 1980s, the Chiefs had a strong defensive unit consisting of Pro Bowlers such as Bill Maas, Albert Lewis, Art Still and Deron Cherry.
In 1984, the Jackson County Sports Authority re-evaluated the concept of a fabric dome on Arrowhead Stadium. The concept was disregarded as being unnecessary and financially impractical. Arrowhead hosted the Drum Corps International World Championships in 1988 and 1989.
John Mackovic took over head coaching duties for the 1983 season after Marv Levy was fired. Over the next four seasons, Mackovic coached the Chiefs to a 30–34 record, but took the team to its first post-season appearance in 15 years in the 1986 NFL playoffs. They lost to the New York Jets in the wild-card round. Despite leading the Chiefs to only their third winning season and second playoff appearance since the merger, Mackovic was fired for what Hunt described as a lack of chemistry. Frank Gansz served as head coach for the next two seasons, but won only eight of 31 games.
On December 19, 1988, owner Lamar Hunt hired Carl Peterson as the team’s new president, general manager, and chief executive officer. Peterson fired head coach Frank Gansz two weeks after taking over and hired Marty Schottenheimer as the club’s seventh head coach. In the 1988 and 1989 NFL Drafts, the Chiefs selected both defensive end Neil Smith and linebacker Derrick Thomas, respectively. The defense that Thomas and Smith anchored in their seven seasons together was a big reason why the Chiefs reached the postseason in six straight years.
In 1991, two Diamond Vision screens shaped as footballs were installed at Arrowhead Stadium. In 1994, other improvements were made and natural grass playing surface was installed, replacing the original artificial Astroturf playing field.
In Schottenheimer’s tenure as head coach, (1989–1998), the Chiefs became a perennial playoff contender, featuring offensive players including Steve DeBerg, Christian Okoye, Stephone Paige and Barry Word, a strong defense, anchored by Thomas, Smith, Albert Lewis and Deron Cherry, and on special teams, Nick Lowery, then the most accurate kicker in NFL history. The team recorded a 101–58–1 record, and clinched seven playoff berths. 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 Super Bowl champions and MVPs, the Chiefs further strengthened their position in the NFL. The 11–5 Chiefs defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers on their way to the franchise’s first and to date only AFC Championship Game appearance against the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were overwhelmed by the Bills and lost the game by a score of 30–13. The Chiefs’ victory on January 16, 1994, against the Oilers remained the franchise’s last post-season victory for 21 years until their 30–0 victory over the Houston Texans on January 9, 2016.
In the 1995 NFL playoffs, the 13–3 Chiefs hosted the Indianapolis Colts in a cold, damp late afternoon game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City lost the game 10–7 against the underdog Colts, after kicker Lin Elliot missed three field goal attempts and quarterback Steve Bono threw three interceptions. The Chiefs selected tight end Tony Gonzalez with the 13th overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft, a move which some considered to be a gamble being that Gonzalez was primarily a basketball player at California. During a 1997 season full of injuries to starting quarterback Elvis Grbac, backup quarterback Rich Gannon took the reins of the Chiefs’ offense as the team headed to another 13–3 season. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer chose Grbac to start the playoff game against the Denver Broncos despite Gannon’s successes in previous weeks. Grbac’s production in the game was lacking, and the Chiefs lost to the Broncos 14–10. Denver went on to capture their fifth AFC Championship by defeating Pittsburgh, and then defeated the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
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, Gannon had signed with the Oakland Raiders, Neil Smith signed with the Denver Broncos, and Derrick Thomas was paralyzed from a car accident on January 23, 2000. Thomas died from complications of his injury weeks later. After allegedly reading online that he would be relieved of duties, head coach Gunther Cunningham was fired.
Looking to change the Chiefs’ game plan which relied on a tough defensive strategy for the past decade, Carl Peterson contacted Dick Vermeil about the Chiefs’ head coaching vacancy for the 2001 season. Vermeil previously led the St. Louis Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. Vermeil was hired on January 12. The Chiefs then traded a first-round draft pick in the 2001 NFL Draft to St. Louis for quarterback Trent Green and signed free agent running back Priest Holmes to be the team’s cornerstones on offense.
In 2003, Kansas City began the season with nine consecutive victories, a franchise record. They finished the season with a 13–3 record and the team’s offense led the NFL in several categories under the direction of USA Today’s Offensive Coach of the Year honoree, Al Saunders. Running back Priest Holmes surpassed Marshall Faulk’s single-season touchdown record by scoring his 27th rushing touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the team’s regular season finale. The team clinched the second seed in the 2004 NFL playoffs and hosted the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. In a game where neither team punted, the Chiefs lost the shoot-out 38–31. It was the third time in nine seasons that the Chiefs went 8–0 at home in the regular season, only to lose their post-season opener at Arrowhead.
After a disappointing 7–9 record in 2004, the 2005 Chiefs finished with a 10–6 record but no playoff berth. They were the fourth team since 1990 to miss the playoffs with a 10–6 record. Running back Larry Johnson started in place of the injured Priest Holmes and rushed for 1,750 yards in only nine starts. Prior to the Chiefs’ final game of the season, head coach Dick Vermeil announced his retirement. The Chiefs won the game 37–3 over the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals.
Within two weeks of Vermeil’s resignation, the Chiefs returned to their defensive roots with the selection of its next head coach. The team introduced Herman Edwards, a former Chiefs scout and head coach of the New York Jets, as the team’s tenth head coach after trading a fourth-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft to the Jets. Quarterback Trent Green suffered a severe concussion in the team’s season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals which left him out of play for eight weeks. Backup quarterback Damon Huard took over in Green’s absence and led the Chiefs to a 5–3 record.
Kansas City was awarded a Thanksgiving Day game against the Denver Broncos in response to owner Lamar Hunt’s lobbying for a third Thanksgiving Day game. The Chiefs defeated the Broncos 19–10 in the first Thanksgiving Day game in Kansas City since 1969. Hunt was hospitalized at the time of the game and died weeks later on December 13 due to complications with prostate cancer. The Chiefs honored their owner for the remainder of the season, as did the rest of the league.
Trent Green returned in the middle of the season, but struggled in the final stretch, and running back Larry Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries in a season. Kansas City managed to clinch their first playoff berth in three seasons with a 9–7 record and a bizarre sequence of six losses from other AFC teams on New Year’s Eve, culminating with a Broncos loss to the 49ers. The Indianapolis Colts hosted the Chiefs in the Wild Card playoffs and defeated Kansas City 23–8.
In 2007, Trent Green was traded to the Miami Dolphins leaving the door open for either Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle to become the new starting quarterback. After starting the season with a 4–3 record, the Chiefs lost the remaining nine games when running back Larry Johnson suffered a season-ending foot injury and the quarterback position lacked stability with Huard and Croyle. Despite the team’s 4–12 record, tight end Tony Gonzalez broke Shannon Sharpe’s NFL record for touchdowns at the position (63) and defensive end Jared Allen led the NFL in quarterback sacks with 15.5.
The Chiefs began their 2008 season with the youngest team in the NFL. The starting lineup had an average of 25.5 years of age. By releasing several veteran players such as cornerback Ty Law and wide receiver Eddie Kennison and trading defensive end Jared Allen, the Chiefs began a youth movement. The Chiefs had a league-high thirteen selections in the 2008 NFL Draft and chose defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and offensive lineman Branden Albert in the first round. Analysts quickly called Kansas City’s selections as the best of the entire draft. Entering the season, the Chiefs were unsure if injury-prone quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was the incumbent starter, could be their quarterback in the long-term. Croyle was injured in the team’s first game of the season and Damon Huard started in Croyle’s absence. Tyler Thigpen become the third Chiefs starting quarterback in as many games for a start against the Atlanta Falcons. After a poor performance by Thigpen, in which he threw three interceptions against the Falcons defense, Huard was retained as the starting quarterback. The Chiefs struggled off the field as much as on as tight end Tony Gonzalez demanded a trade and running back Larry Johnson was involved in legal trouble.
Croyle returned for the Chiefs’ game against the Tennessee Titans, but both he and Damon Huard suffered season-ending injuries in the game. The Chiefs reorganized their offense to a new spread offense game plan focused around Tyler Thigpen. The Chiefs’ new offense was implemented to help Thigpen play to the best of his abilities and also following the absence of Larry Johnson, who was suspended for his off-field conduct. The Chiefs made a huge gamble by using the spread offense, as most in the NFL believe that it cannot work in professional football, and also head coach Herman Edwards was traditionally in favor of more conservative, run-oriented game plans.
The 2008 season ended with a franchise worst 2–14 record, where the team suffered historic blowout defeats nearly week-in and week-out. a 34–0 shut-out to the Carolina Panthers, and allowed a franchise-high 54 points against the Buffalo Bills. The team’s general manager, chief executive officer, and team president Carl Peterson resigned at the end of the season, and former New England Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli was hired as his replacement for 2009.
On January 23, 2009, Herman Edwards was fired as head coach, and two weeks later Todd Haley signed a four-year contract to become Edwards’ successor. Haley had a background with Pioli, which made him an attractive hire for Pioli’s first coach in Kansas City. In April 2009, Tony Gonzalez was traded to the Atlanta Falcons after failed trade attempts over the previous two seasons. Notably, head coach Todd Haley fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey just weeks before the start of the 2009 season and chose to take on the coordinator duties himself. Throughout 2009 the Chiefs acquired veterans to supplement the Chiefs’ young talent including Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, Bobby Engram, Mike Brown, Chris Chambers, and Andy Alleman. The team finished with a 4–12 record, just a two-game improvement upon their record from the 2008 season.
For the 2010 season, the Chiefs made significant hires for their coaching staff, bringing on former Patriots assistant coaches Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to coach the offense and defense, respectively. The coaching additions proved to be very successful, as the Chiefs would go on to secure their first AFC West title since 2003. Their ten victories in the 2010 season combined for as many as the team had won in their previous three seasons combined.
On January 9, 2011, the Chiefs lost their home Wild Card playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens 30–7. Six players were chosen for the Pro Bowl: Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Brian Waters, Tamba Hali, Matt Cassel, and rookie safety Eric Berry. Jamaal Charles won the FEDEX ground player of the year award and Dwayne Bowe led the NFL in Touchdown Receptions.
For their first pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and 26th overall, the team selected Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver from Pitt. After a poor start, Haley was relieved of duties as Head Coach on December 12. Clark Hunt made note of “bright spots at different points this season”, but felt that overall the Chiefs were not progressing. The highest point of the 2011 season was an upset win against the Packers, who at that time, were undefeated with a 13–0 record.
The 2012 Chiefs became the first team since the 1929 Buffalo Bisons to not lead in regulation through any of their first nine games. The Chiefs tied their franchise worst record of 2–14 and clinched the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It is the first time in since the merger they have held the first overall pick.
Following the 2012 season, the Chiefs fired head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid was brought in as head coach to work with new general manager John Dorsey, a former Green Bay Packers head scout. The Chiefs acquired quarterback Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers for the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, in the 2013 draft and a conditional pick in 2014 draft. Matt Cassel was released shortly after. The Chiefs selected Eric Fisher with the first overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs started 9–0 for the second time in team history. They would lead their wildcard game against the Indianapolis Colts 38–10 shortly after halftime, but they would collapse late and lose, 45–44. In 2014, the Chiefs attempted to make the playoffs for the second straight season for the first time since 1995, however, they finished 9–7 and were eliminated in Week 17.
After a promising win for the Chiefs against Houston in Week 1 of the 2015 season, Kansas City went on a five-game losing streak culminating in a 16–10 loss to Minnesota and the loss of Jamaal Charles to a torn ACL. However, they managed one of the most improbable season comebacks in the NFL and won ten straight to improve their record from 1–5 to 11–5. The team clinched a playoff berth after a 17–13 win over Cleveland in Week 16 to become only the second NFL team to do so after the merger.
The streak achieved by the Chiefs broke a franchise record for 9 straight (2003, 2013) and second 9 plus game win streak under Reid. After a Week 17 win over Oakland 23–17, the Chiefs achieved their longest winning streak in franchise history at ten games. They qualified for the playoffs, playing in the 2015 AFC Wild-Card playoff game, held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on January 9, 2016. The Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans 30–0 to earn their first NFL playoff win in 23 seasons, dating back to the 1993–94 NFL playoffs, a win that also came in Houston. The Chiefs’ Wild-Card playoff victory ended what was at the time the third-longest drought in the NFL, and it also ended a then NFL record eight-game playoff losing streak. Riddled with injuries, they were defeated by the New England Patriots 27–20 in the AFC Divisional Round.
After facing a 24–3 deficit with six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Chiefs engineered a 33–27 comeback win against the San Diego Chargers ending with a two-yard touchdown run by Alex Smith in overtime to give the Chiefs their largest regular season comeback to start the 2016 season at 1–0. On Christmas Day, the Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos 33–10 to give Kansas City their tenth straight win against divisional opponents. On January 1, 2017, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West and the second seed going into the playoffs that year. They clinched the 2nd seed in the AFC but fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 18-16 as Chris Boswell hit 6 field goals.
The Chiefs finished 2017 with a 10–6 record, and won the AFC West. This was the first time in Chiefs history to win the AFC West in back to back years. In the Wild Card round, the Chiefs lost a tight game to the Tennessee Titans 22-21, allowing Derrick Henry to rush for 156 yards. The loss extended their NFL record for most consecutive home playoff losses to six. The game marked the end of Alex Smith’s five-year tenure with the Chiefs, as he was subsequently traded to the Washington Redskins a few weeks later.
The Chiefs began the 2018 season with first-year starter Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback and finished the regular season with a record of 12–4, clinching the AFC West for the third year in a row and the AFC’s top seed. This included victories over division rivals Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos (twice), along with important conference victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Their first loss of the season came at the hands of the New England Patriots with a last-second field goal. In their second loss of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs made history by becoming the first NFL team to lose a game after scoring more than fifty points. On January 12, 2019, The Chiefs defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 in the AFC Divisional round to move on to the AFC Championship game.
When the Texans began playing in 1960, the team’s logo consisted of the state of Texas in white with a yellow star marking the location of the city of Dallas. Originally, Hunt chose Columbia blue and orange for the Texans’ uniforms, but Bud Adams chose Columbia blue and scarlet for his Houston Oilers franchise. Hunt reverted to red and gold for the Texans’ uniforms, which even after the team relocated to Kansas City, remain as the franchise’s colors to this day.
The state of Texas on the team’s helmet was replaced by an arrowhead design originally sketched by Lamar Hunt on a napkin. Hunt’s inspiration for the interlocking “KC” design was the “SF” inside of an oval on the San Francisco 49ers helmets. Unlike the 49ers’ logo, Kansas City’s overlapping initials appear inside a white arrowhead instead of an oval and are surrounded by a thin black outline. From 1960 to 1973, the Chiefs had grey facemask bars on their helmets, but changed to white bars in 1974, making them one of the first teams in the NFL to use a non-gray facemask.
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 from 1960 to 1967 and 1989 to 1999. Beginning in 2009, during the Pioli/Haley era, the team has alternated between white and red pants for road games during the season. Prior to September 15, 2013, the Chiefs always wore white pants with their red jerseys. The Chiefs have never worn an alternate jersey in a game, although custom jerseys are sold for retail. The Chiefs wore their white jerseys with white pants at home for the 2006 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. The logic behind the uniform selection that day was that the Bengals would be forced to wear their black uniforms on a day that forecasted for steamy temperatures. The only other time the Chiefs wore white at home was throughout the 1980 season under Marv Levy.
In 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs honored Lamar Hunt and the AFL with a special patch. It features the AFL’s logo from the 1960s with Hunt’s “LH” initials inside the football. In 2008, the patch became permanently affixed to the left chest of both Kansas City’s home and away jerseys. In select games for the 2009 season, the Chiefs, as well as the other founding teams of the American Football League, wore “throwback” uniforms to celebrate the AFL’s 50th anniversary. For the first time in team history, the Chiefs wore their red jersey with red pants forming an all red combo in their home opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 15, 2013.
Arrowhead Stadium has been the Chiefs’ home field since 1972 and has a capacity of 76,416, which makes it the sixth-largest stadium in the NFL. The stadium underwent a $375 million renovation, completed in mid-2010, which included new luxury boxes, wider concourses and enhanced amenities. The stadium renovation was paid for by $250 million in taxpayer money and $125 million from the Hunt Family. The stadium cost $53 million to build in 1972, and an average ticket in 2009 cost $81. Centerplate serves as the stadium’s concession provider and Sprint, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola are major corporate sponsors.
Dating back to the Chiefs’ home opener in 1991 to mid-2009, the Chiefs had 155 consecutive sellout games. The streak ended with the final home game of the 2009 season against the Cleveland Browns, resulting in the first local TV blackout in over 19 years. Arrowhead has been called one of the world’s finest stadiums and has long held a reputation for being one of the toughest and loudest outdoor stadiums for opposing players to play in. All noise is directly attributed to its fans and was once measured at 116 decibels by the Acoustical Design Group of Mission, Kansas. By way of comparison, take-off of aircraft may lead to a sound level of 106 decibels at the ground. Sports Illustrated named Arrowhead Stadium the “toughest place to play” for opposing teams in 2005. The tailgate party environment outside the stadium on game day has been compared to a “college football” atmosphere. Arrowhead Stadium features frequent fly-overs from a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base. Since the 1994 NFL season, the stadium has had a natural grass playing surface. From 1972 to 1993, the stadium had an artificial AstroTurf surface.
During the game against the Oakland Raiders on October 13, 2013, Arrowhead Stadium once again became the loudest stadium in the world when the fans set the Guinness Book of World Records record for loudest crowd in an outdoor stadium (137.5 dB), breaking the record set by the Seattle Seahawks just four weeks prior. A few weeks after, Seattle re-gained the record by reaching a noise level of 137.6 decibels. Chiefs fans have reclaimed the record once again; on September 29, 2014, on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots, the fans recorded a sound reading of 142.2 decibels.
The Chiefs’ first mascot was Warpaint, a nickname given to several different breeds of pinto horse. Warpaint served as the team’s mascot from 1963 to 1988. The first Warpaint (born in 1955, died in 1992) 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. On September 20, 2009, a new Warpaint horse was unveiled at the Chiefs’ home opener which was won by Oakland Raiders. Warpaint is now ridden by a cheerleader, Susie.
In the mid-1980s, the Chiefs featured a short-lived unnamed “Indian man” mascot which was later scrapped in 1988. Since 1989 the cartoon-like K. C. Wolf, portrayed by Dan Meers in a wolf costume, has served as the team’s mascot. The mascot was named after the Chiefs’ “Wolfpack”, a group of rabid 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. In addition to the cheerleaders, in the early 1970s, there was also a dance/drill team that performed for pre-game and halftime. From 1986 to 1992, the cheerleader squad featured a mix of men and women. Since 1993, the all-female squad has been known as the Chiefs Cheerleaders.
The Chiefs boast one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL. Kansas City is the sixth-smallest media market with an NFL team, but they have had the second-highest attendance average over the last decade. Studies by Bizjournals in 2006 gave the Chiefs high marks for consistently drawing capacity crowds in both good seasons and bad. The Chiefs averaged 77,300 fans per game from 1996 to 2006, second in the NFL behind the Washington Redskins. The franchise has an official fan club called Chiefs Kingdom which gives members opportunities to ticket priority benefits and VIP treatment.
At the end of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games, many Chiefs fans intentionally yell out “CHIEFS!” rather than singing “brave” as the final word. In 1996, general manager Carl Peterson said “We all look forward, not only at Arrowhead, but on the road, too, to when we get to that stanza of the National Anthem… Our players love it.” After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Chiefs fans refrained from doing so in honor of those who lost their lives in the tragedy and continued to do so for the remainder of the 2001 season. At the Chiefs’ September 23, 2001, home game against the New York Giants, fans gave the opposing Giants a standing ovation.
After every Chiefs touchdown at home games, fans chant while pointing in the direction of the visiting team and fans, “We’re gonna beat the hell outta you…you…you, you, you, you!” over the song “Rock and Roll Part 2.” The chant starts after the third “hey!” in the song. The original version of the song by Gary Glitter was previously used until the NFL banned his music from its facilities in 2006 following the British rocker’s conviction on sexual abuse charges in Vietnam. A cover version of the song played by Tube Tops 2000 has been played since 2006 at every home game.
Chiefs fans also carry on a tradition that began at Florida State University in the mid 1980s by using the Seminole WarChant as a rallying cry during key moments in their football games. Prior to each home game, a former Chiefs player, called the honorary drum leader, bangs on a drum with a large drum stick to start the Tomahawk chop.
The Chiefs’ fan base has expanded across the world like many other NFL teams. However, there is a Twitter account dedicated to Chiefs fans in the UK and has been recognized by the Kansas City Chiefs and is their official UK fan page. They have many dedicated fans writing articles and interviewing players of the team such as Tamba Hali.
Arrowhead Stadium is also recognized by Guinness World Records as having the loudest outdoor stadium in the world. This was achieved on September 29, 2014, in a Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots when the crowd achieved a roar of 142.2 decibels which is comparable to standing 100 feet from a jet engine, which even with short term exposure, can cause permanent damage.
There haven’t been very many stamps released by the United States with an American football theme, particularly when compared to those issued featuring baseball. Personally, I would love to see a sheet of stamps portraying different NFL stadiums. The first U.S. stamp picturing the sport was released on September 26, 1969, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Scott #1382 is a 6-cent stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the first intercollegiate football game which was played in New Brunswick on November 6, 1869. Rutgers University defeated the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, 6-4.
Jim Thorpe was honored on a single 20-cent stamp issued on May 24, 1984, at Shawnee, Oklahoma (Scott #2089). A versatile athlete who excelled in many sports, Jim Thorpe became the first athlete to win the pentathlon and decathlon, at the 1912 Summer Olympics. However, he was stripped of his medals when it was learned he had violated Olympic rules by playing semi-pro baseball in 1910. In 1982, the International Olympic Committee reversed its decision and returned the medals to Thorpe’s family.
Coach Knute Rockne received his stamp on March 9, 1988, a 22-cent commemorative issued in Notre Dame, Indiana (Scott #2376). During his 13-year career as football coach at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, Knute Rockne proved it was possible to maintain the highest standards and still play championship football.
On September 9, 1990, a 25-cent stamped envelope was released in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to commemorate the Vince Lombardi Trophy and featured a holographic image in the stamp indicia (Scott #U618). The Lombardi trophy is awarded each year to the winning team of the National Football League’s championship game, the Super Bowl. The trophy is named in honor of NFL coach Vince Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowl games.
Four additional coaches were remembered on a set of stamps issued in a block of four stamps on July 25, 1997, in Canton, Ohio (Scott #3143-3146). Each of the 32-cent stamps were then re-released in individual sheets of 50 with a red bar added under the coach’s name — Bear Bryant on August 7, 1997 (Scott #3147); Pop Warner on August 7 (Scott #3148); Vince Lombardi on August 8 (Scott #3149); and George Halas on August 16 (Scott #3150).
The Celebrate the Century series, issued in sheets of 15 between 1998 and 2000, included several football stamps: the 1960s set issued on September 17, 1997, included commemorations of the Green Bay Packers (Scott #3188d) and Super Bowl I (Scott #3188l); the 1970s sheet had stamps to mark the Pittsburgh Steelers winning four Super Bowls (Scott #3189e) and Monday Night Football broadcasts (Scott #3189l) released on November 18, 1999; while the 1980s set called attention to the San Francisco 49ers (Scott #3190c) issued on January 12, 2000.
A set of four 33-cent stamps was released on May 27, 2000 commemorating youth team sports with football portrayed on Scott #3400. Four early football heroes — Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, Walter Camp, and Red Grange — were honored with a set of 37-cent stamps issued on August 8, 2003 (Scott #3808-3811).
On June 14, 2017, the United States Postal Service released a set of eight different round 49-cent self-adhesive stamps under the title Let’s Have A Ball! (Scott #5203-5210), Each of these depicts a different ball used in sports: football,, volleyball, soccer, golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, and kick ball. Offset printed by Ashton Potter Ltd., the pane of 16 includes a special coating applied only to selected areas giving the stamps a textured feel. Mike Ryan was the designer while Greg Breeding served as the art director for these stamps. Ten million copies of each stamp were printed.
In addition to the stamps, many NFL events such as playoff and championship games, including the Super Bowl, often have special pictorial postmarks available at a mobile post office near (and sometimes within) the stadium where the game is being played. Sometimes these can be found on eBay and I have a small but growing collection of these. I used to own several covers marking the 1972 dedication of Arrowhead Stadium but those remained in the U.S. when I moved to Thailand. I wouldn’t mind finding another example someday. I also live in hope that the Chiefs will someday find themselves on a stamp. I also wish that a stamp honoring Kansas City would be released. In it’s role as headquarters of the USPS Philatelic Sales Division, Kansas City has it’s fair share of first day postmarks on stamps but the last time the city has been specifically commemorated was back in 1950 with Scott #994, nearly 70 years ago!