LARNED — Hey Chiefs’ fans, I know it seems like 50 years since the guys with the arrowheads on their hashelmets had a winning season but it’s not quite that bad.
Actually, it was 50 years ago about now that owner Lamar Hunt, general manager Jack Steadman and coach Hank Stram packed up what little they had and left Dallas as the Texans and showed up in Kansas City, Mo., and and became our beloved Chiefs.
What a trio. Lamar Hunt would go on to distinguish himself as one of the NFL’s classiest and shrewdest owners. Jack Steadman managed the Chiefs through this name change and city change and put together some of the best football clubs in NFL history. Two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory put a stamp of outstanding on Steadman’s work.
Who can forget Hank Stram? The barrel-chested Stram could have made a living in Hollywood just as well. He was the biggest ham in the NFL! He loved to be hooked up to a microphone and have the camera on him as he strutted up and down the sidelines in his three-piece suits.
Has any head coach ever been more sartorially splendored than Stram? Still, the guy COULD coach! He put together some of the NFL’s all-time best defenses. He created his famous “Triple Stack Defense” in 1969, and that defense was recently ranked as the seventh-best of all time in NFL history.
All of this almost didn’t happen as Hunt came within a whisker of moving his team to New Orleans instead. He was losing money by the fistful in Texas and knew he had to go somewhere. His general manager, Steadman, convinced him that Kansas City was the best choice.
It wasn’t a popular choice with a lot of the players and coaches.Stram thought it was the worst decision they could have made and only after the Kansas City fans showered him with worship and adoration, which he loved, did Stram buy into the deal.
The Kansas City Star ran a contest “Rename the Dallas Texans Contest.” A lot of fans liked the name “Royals,” but once again, Steadman had the right thought. He liked “Chiefs,” so Chiefs it was and a legend began to grow.
Forbes says the Chiefs are worth a cool $Billion dollars. They have one of the sports world’s most recognizable emblems and certainly one of the most rabid fan bases even though the Chiefs had struggled in recent years. The last division championship for the Chiefs was in 2010, and that now seems to be an aberration as the Chiefs were big losers for several seasons before and following that lone championship.
The last appearance in a Super Bowl was following the 1969 season when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings. That was the second win for the upstart American Football League, with the New York Jets upset of the Baltimore Colts being the first. Many NFL observers feel those two wins by the Jets and Chiefs, more than anything else, caused the merger of the two warring leagues.
Now our Chiefs have a new general manager, a new head coach and a new quarterback in Alex Smith. Who’s to say that, some 44 years later, our heroes in red can’t stroll down from the Plaza to Arrowhead Stadium and make it all happen again? They’ve been in the cellar so long they are beginning to have mold growing on their helmets. It’s time for a change.
Bring back the Chiefs!
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.