Kansas City, Missouri is home to the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium they now play in is called Arrowhead. It holds over 79,000 seats and is the place to be during the fall in Kansas City. However, it wasn’t always like this. Let’s go back in time and look at the humble beginnings of the Chiefs..
The Kansas City Chiefs in the beginning were known as the Dallas Texans. They were part of an “upstart” league known as the American Football League or AFL for short.
Times were tough and some of the Owners were going broke.Owners Lamar Hunt and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders knew they had to do something. They got the Owners together and decided to make the game “more fun” for the fans. There were crazy promotions which gave away cash and gifts and tickets.
Compared to an NFL game the pass happy AFL game looked like a three ring circus. The fans loved this new version of football. The NFL saw the increasing number of fans attending AFL games and decided to do something.
The NFL fought back by putting a new team in Dallas in 1960. The NFL was pretty sure the AFL Texans wouldn’t be able to survive the competition. The Dallas Cowboys were born. They ran Lamar Hunt and the Dallas Texans out of town in 3 years. 1962 was their last year as the Texans. The Texans were also the AFL Champions in 1962 and had the AFL rushing leader in Abner Haynes.
This writer remembers like it was yesterday when word reached Kansas City. We were getting a professional football team!
That winter the Kansas City Star newspaper ran a promotion…name the new football team! You can rest assured that I entered that promotion. And was I ever disappointed when my Team name wasn’t chosen.
Someone had suggested “the Chiefs” which I thought wasn’t near as cool as my name. Which by the way was the “Thunderbirds”. My older brother was in a band and their name was the Thunderbirds.
Later on I heard a rumor that the Chiefs were named after Kansas City Mayor, H. Roe Bartle. His nickname was “chief” and he was a very powerful ally to have on your side.
(1963 Chiefs. Courtesy Shark Throwback & Youtube)
Lamar Hunt liked the name and the Texans were now the Chiefs. That winter the Chiefs Players played basketball games all over greater Kansas City against anyone who wanted to play them. A lot of service groups made good money from the gate receipts of these games. I even went to one in Independence. After the game the Chiefs signed autographs until everyone had an autograph. I still have those autographs today.
All spring and summer Kansas City was anxious to see their new team play. A local Super Market named Milgrams sold tickets for $1 if you bought $5 of their food. Owner Les Milgram was one of the 1st big corporate sponsors the Chiefs had.
The Chiefs played in old Municipal Stadium where the Kansas City Athletics played. The first preseason game was against the San Diego Charges. My family and I had seats behind the 1st base dugout. When the Chargers came out of the dugout my father’s jaw dropped when he saw Ernie Ladd. My dad said he was as big as two men.
The Chiefs lost the coin flip for their very 1st game in Kansas City. Everyone was on their feat screaming when San Diego kicked off. I remember this kickoff like it was yesterday. Abner Haynes took the kickoff on the one foot line…backed up into the end zone…and took a knee! Yep!! On the Chiefs very 1st play as Chiefs they got a Safety. 2 points for the Chargers.
I can’t remember the final score but I think the Chiefs won. I was twelve years old when that game was played. 49 years later I’m writing about it.
The Chiefs became a successful franchise over the years. With Hank Stram they had one of the most creative Head Coaches in all of football including the NFL.They have made the playoffs 14 times. In 1967, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 1. The Chiefs were beaten 35-10 and became part of history.
As an old Chiefs Fan I have to interject a factoid here! The Chiefs top draft choice in 1965 was Gale Sayers. It would have been a perfect fit. “KU boy does good in KC”! Gale Sayers could have been in the Chief’s backfield in 1966. I’ve never forgiven Pappa Bear – George Halas!
Once again in 1970 the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl 4 they “rocked” the football world and beat the Minnesota Vikings. That was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs have had many great players on their roster. Here are a few of the many great players to play in a Kansas City uniform. All are Hall of Famers.
* Len Dawson * Joe Montana * Marcus Allen * Willie Lanier * Buck Buchanan
* Bobby Bell * Jan Stenerud * Hank Stram * Mike Webster
Throughout the Chiefs history they’ve had their tragedies…Mack Lee Hill, a great running back died on the operating table during knee surgery. He was so terrified of hospitals that he died from a heart attack.
*Joe Delaney, another great running back jumped into a pool of water to save some kids. Joe couldn’t swim and drowned.
*Derrick Thomas liked fast cars. On his way to the airport the weather was snowy and icy. He was in a hurry and flipped his car many times. He died shortly after the accident.
The Chiefs moved to Arrowhead Stadium in 1972. Old Municipal Stadium, that held 28,000 fans, became a Parking Lot. Opposing players agree that Arrowhead is one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL to play in.The noise created by the fans is equal to a jumbo jet taking off. And the Chiefs have no equals in the NFL when it comes to Tailgate Partying!
Game time is a “sea” of red jerseys. It’s a beautiful site to behold!