Saturday, January 8, 2011

Go Chiefs!

Good luck to my favorite professional football team in the playoffs Sunday! You guys are fun to watch, and you play hard. In your honor, I bestow the following lengthy post.

Coach Schriner asked me tonight who I thought the all time best Kansas City Chief player was. Trevor told him it was Priest Holmes. He was certainly a good one, and absolutely one of my all-time favorites.  It got me thinking about my 'best' and 'favorite' lists - which are two distinct things. So I will list them for you. Not because I'm right (though I am) but because these are fun.

I'll start with the list of the BEST Kansas City Chiefs. I admit a bias toward players that had the majority of their glory days in KC.

The top 7 are all members of the NFL Hall of Fame. And they were easy to put on the list, though difficult to sort. Numbers eight through ten though were very difficult, as I've left off Will Shields (who is the best guard to ever play for the Chiefs), as well as Marcus Allen, Joe Montana, Ed Podalak, Jerrel Wilson, Jonny Robinson, Art Still, Curly Culp, Deron Cherry, Jim Tyrer, Christian Okoye, Willie Roaf, and Joe Delaney. I'm sure any number of those guys would be on other people's lists.

  • 10. Otis Taylor - the best wide receiver to ever wear the red and gold.
  • 9. Tony Gonzalez - he redefined the position of Tight End in the NFL. Now everybody looks for ex-basketball players. He will be in the NFL Hall of Fame.
  • 8. Priest Holmes - the best offensive player from the best offensive teams in the history of the franchise.
  • 7. Emmitt Thomas - the best cornerback to ever wear the red and gold.
  • 6. Jan Stenerud - Redefined the position of place kicker in the NFL.
  • 5. Buck Buchanon - 6' 7", 287 pounds, and the best defensive tackle the Chiefs have ever had. Aside from being an 8-time All AFL or All Pro player, he did two other really amazing things. The first is that he completely changed the Oakland Raiders, because they got Art Shell (another NFL Hall-Of-Famer) specifically to block Buck. The second is, he ran a 10.2 second 100 yard dash at Grambling. That's probably 11 flat for 100 meters. Think about a 6' 7" guy moving that fast just to lay you out... and tremble. 
  • 4. Willie Lanier - Redefined the position of middle linebacker in the NFL.
  • 3 - Derick Thomas - Most thrilling player ever to wear the red and gold. I loved going to the 'military flyover' games. Hardest I ever laughed after a Chiefs loss was the DT-7-Sacks-of-Dave-Kreig game, when Bill Grigsby and Len Dawson were chatting about the devastating last-second loss on the post-game radio show:

G: "Lenny, I'm too old to cry, and not quite sick enough to puke."

D: (chuckling) "So what are you going to do then?"

G: "I'm gonna go home and have a big stiff one. 

D: "Well." (starts laughing)

G: (starts laughing)

D & G: (now they are getting each other going and neither one of them can stop laughing.)

As funny as those guys were, it made it a little better day. And it was the greatest single individual defensive performance I have ever seen. 

  • 2 - Len Dawson - The first and still greatest 'face of the franchise' type guy in this town. Lenny the cool.
  • 1 - Bobby Bell - Redefined the position of outside linebacker in the NFL. 

And now, because first and foremost I'm a FAN, I get to give you my ten FAVORITE players. These are the guys that I loved to watch, and made the game a blast for me.

  • 10. Ed Podalak. Christmas Day, 1971. I WASN'T there for the longest game in NFL history, because my dad gave MY ticket to my great uncle Blair. But I watched the whole thing on TV, and it was the greatest offensive performance I have ever seen. What an incredible player he was, and we were so lucky to watch him play.
  • 9. Super Gnat - Long before Dexter McCluster, ages before Dante Hall, the Chiefs had a diminutive, hold-your-breath-there-he-goes kick returner named Noland Smith. He was good, he was tiny, and he was in the movie MASH. Which is pretty cool.
  • 8. Jerrel Wilson. I know, he was a punter. But so was I in junior high, so it's OK for me to put him on my favorite list. Plus, he was really, really good. He absolutely KILLED the ball. You could hear the WHUMP from the upper deck.
  • 7. Mike Garrett. 65 Toss Power Trap. Enough said.
  • 6. Kevin Ross. I told anybody that would listen, after his rookie season, CUT HIM, he will never be any good. He taught me why I am not a professional football coach, or a general manager. His effort, and attitude, and indomitable willpower made him an incredible team leader. Every other member of that secondary he played in is now a member of the Chiefs Hall Of Fame. He needs to be there too.
  • 5. Dino Hackett. On the day they drafted Hackett, I was watching ESPN. They did a little interview with this backwater hick kid, and they asked him some inane thing about his greatest strength or something. Hacket kind of got this sleepy-eyed assassin look in his eye and drawled, "I just like to hit." Right then and there - favorite. And he did not disappoint.
  • 4. Art Still. He was huge. And he was un-blockable. And he had nine kids and he just ate nuts and berries and really didn't give a darn what anybody thought about it. He was the coolest of the cool.
  • 3. Willie Roaf.  To watch him pull and lead was awe inspiring. He was a devastating and dominant machine. Mind-boggling athlete in a body that large. NFL Hall of Famer for sure.
  • 2. Priest Holmes. Incredible, amazing, unbelievable. Favorite offensive player ever.
  • 1. Derrick Thomas. Incredible, amazing, unbelievable. Favorite defensive player ever. RIP.
Good luck Chiefs!