Then and Now: 50 Years of Kansas City Chiefs History, Moments and Players
It’s been 50 years since the Chiefs last played for a world championship. Since the fourth edition of that monumental game, countless players, coaches, memories and more have taken the field at Arrowhead Stadium, adding chapter after chapter to the legendary franchise’s storied legacy.
Relive some of the most memorable moments of the last five decades, from Len Dawson and K.C. Wolf to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes—plus plenty in between.
The Kansas City Chiefs football organization was founded in 1960 by Lamar Hunt, a businessman from Dallas, Texas. The club, originally established as the Dallas Texans, made its debut as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), another brainchild of Hunt’s. In fact, Hunt played such an influential role in the founding of the AFL (and its eventual merger with the National Football League in 1970), that the AFC trophy—awarded to the team that wins the AFC Championship—is named after him.
After a three-year stint in Dallas, the club relocated to Kansas City and changed its name. The move made an impact. Energized by a fanatic fanbase and a team full of future Hall of Famers, the Chiefs qualified for both the first and the fourth world championship games, eventually besting the Minnesota Vikings to claim the club’s only Super Bowl title—which, not coincidentally, was also named by Hunt.
Decades of Fanhood
Nearly 60 years have passed since the Chiefs moved to Kansas City, and one could argue that the fanbase is stronger than ever. The club has racked up almost 500 total wins, retired 10 numbers, qualified for three Super Bowls and won a world championship.
In the 1980s, the Chiefs retooled its roster after the glory days of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Eventually, the Chiefs Kingdom experienced a renaissance in the 1990s—overseen by Head Coach Marty Shottenheimer and a stout defense spearheaded by all-timers Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. Dick Vermeil then ushered in an era of high-flying offense during the mid-2000s, followed by Andy Reid’s hire in 2013, which returned the organization to prominence.
Between Hall of Fame players and fan favorites, countless unforgettable athletes have lined up on both sides of the ball for the Chiefs. Players with their numbers retired include Len Dawson, Jan Stenerud, Emmitt Thomas, Abner Haynes, Stone Johnson, Mack Lee Hill, Derrick Thomas, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan. Other popular team members from the past include Christian Okoye, Joe Montana, Neil Smith, Will Shields, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Green, Brian Waters, Dante Hall, Priest Holmes, Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson, among countless others.
In 2020, the Chiefs are making their long-awaited return to the big game, exactly 50 years after winning their first championship. Led behind all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the dangerous passing attack of Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman, the “Legion of Zoom” looks to finish the job with a victory in Miami.
- Before Arrowhead Stadium was constructed, the Chiefs first played at Municipal Stadium. During the club’s inaugural season, box seats could be purchased for $7 and reserved seats for just $6.
- Arrowhead Stadium is the loudest outdoor stadium in the world, having recorded a reading of 142.2 decibels during a 2014 Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots.
- In 1989, running back Christian Okoye became the first Chief to ever lead the NFL in rushing, with 1,480 yards.
- Kicker Nick Lowery, who’d previously been cut 11 times by eight different teams, was signed by the Chiefs in 1980. Lowery went on to become the Chiefs’ all-time leading scorer.
- K.C. Wolf, the Chiefs’ current mascot, debuted in 1989. In 2006, K.C. Wolf became the first NFL mascot to be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame.
- In sum, there are 36 players, coaches and executives in the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
- The winningest head coach in team history is Pro Football Hall of Famer Hank Stram, who led the Texans/Chiefs to a record of 124-76-10 from 1960 to 1974.
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