Kansas City Chiefs: Best Offensive Players Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
In 1960, Lamar Hunt joined men like Ralph Wilson, Bud Adams and Barron Hilton to start a new football league to compete with the NFL. The American Football League was the name of their league, the fourth league with that name to compete against the NFL.
Despite a rough start, this AFL would become, and still is, the one league that competed with the mighty NFL with success.
Hunt initially started his franchise in Texas, calling them the Dallas Texans. He tried to hire Tom Landry as his head coach, but the future Hall of Famer decided to take the same job title with the expansion Dallas Cowboys of the NFL.
He then tried to hire College Hall of Fame coach Bud Wilkinson, but Wilkinson decided to remain in the college ranks for three more years. He eventually did coach the St. Louis Cardinals for two seasons in 1978.
Then Hunt took a gamble on an assistant coach in the college ranks few knew of. Hank Stram would stay with Hunt until 1974, and the Hall of Famer is still the most successful coach in the history of the Chiefs franchise.
The Texans and Cowboys shared the Cotton Bowl, and the Texans were the AFL's top drawing team. After a rough start, Stram made a move that would turn things around by getting a Hall of Fame quarterback to lead his team.
The Texans had been signing several excellent players out of the grasp of the NFL, thanks to smart and aggressive leadership from Hunt. He recruited heavily in the black colleges of that era, something the NFL did not do.
Stram had been an assistant coach at Purdue University until 1955. While there, he got to work with a youngster named Len Dawson. Dawson was a first-round pick by the NFL in 1957, but was considered a flop by many up until that point.
Stram knew better, plus his team needed a quarterback. He coaxed Dawson to leave the Cleveland Browns and join his Texans in 1962.
The move paid off in spades, because the Texans ended up winning the title that year. Despite their success, Hunt was disappointed with the attendance figures and moved his team to Kansas City before the 1963 season. He renamed them the Chiefs.
The Chiefs remained a strong team, but Hunt knew the AFL needed to merge with the NFL for his team to survive. He and the other AFL owners challenged the NFL to a game between each leagues champions, because the NFL had been calling the AFL inferior.
Not too long later, while watching his kids play with a toy called a "Super Ball," Hunt came up with the idea of calling the championship game the Super Bowl.
The AFL and Chiefs lost the first game, but the leagues agreed to merge. The date set was before the 1970 season.
Yet, before the merger was official, the Chiefs sent the AFL out with a bang by winning Super Bowl V. It was the second time the AFL had won a Super Bowl, and it is still the only one the Chiefs have won. It was also, so far, the last one they have appeared in.
Yet the success of the Chiefs in the 1960s is a big reason why the AFC exists today. The Chiefs have put together many good teams since 1969, yet their 1993 squad has been the only one to reach the AFC Championship game.
The Chiefs have nine players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame so far, though certainly more belong.
Here are the best offensive players in the history of the Chiefs not yet inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For a look at the defense : go here
Quarterback : Bill Kenney
Kenney was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 12th round of the 1978 draft. He was the 333rd player chosen overall, the second from last pick that year.
He actually ended up being Mr. Irrelevant for that draft, because the last pick of the draft never signed with the team due to injury. The Dolphins cut him in training camp, so Kenney tried out for the Washington Redskins the next year and was cut again.
In 1980, he made the Kansas City Chiefs roster as a backup. Kenney ended up starting three games that year due to an injury to the Chiefs starter Steve Fuller. He won two games and tossed five touchdowns.
Kenney started 13 games next year, tossing nine touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and won eight games. In the strike-shortened season of 1982, he tossed seven scores in the seven games he played.
Kansas City then used their first round draft pick of 1983 on Todd Blackledge, another quarterback. Kenney responded by having the best season of his entire career and set career best marks in most areas.
His 603 attempts for 346 completions led the NFL. He also threw for 4,348 yards and 24 touchdowns, as well as rushing for three more scores.
He was named to the Pro Bowl, and is the only Mr. Irrelevant to have done so.
He was on his way to matching those totals the next year, but got injured and missed half of the season. He threw for 2,098 yards on 151 completions and 15 touchdowns. The 1985 season saw Kenney start in ten games and toss 2,536 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He started 16 games over the next two years, getting 28 touchdown passes on 4,029 yards. After starting in five games in 1988 and not throwing a touchdown, the Chiefs waived Kenney.
He joined the Washington Redskins as a third-stringer in 1989, but never saw action. He then retired from the NFL.
Bill Kenney held the Chiefs record for most passing yards in a season for 11 years and still ranks behind Hall Of Famer Len Dawson and former Pro Bowler Trent Green in most categories in Kansas City Chiefs history. He is certainly one to never forget.
Trent Green, Elvis Grbac, Cotton Davidson, Mike Livingston, and Steve Bono deserves mention.
Fullback : Curtis McClinton
McClinton was drafted in the 10th round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He had two years of college eligibility left, so he returned to school and was later a 14th-round pick of the 1961 AFL Draft by the Dallas Texans.
He signed with the Texans at the end of the 1961 season. He became a huge part of the 1962 team, being named AFL Rookie of the Year and to the Pro Bowl after forming a dynamic backfield with halfback Abner Haynes.
McClinton would then be named MVP of the 1962 AFL All-Star game.
Haynes, who also was a Pro Bowler and the first AFL Rookie of the Year ever, would often follow the great blocking of McClinton to pick up big chunks of yards.
The Texans won the AFL title that season, their last in Dallas. McClinton had a game-leading 24 carries, as the Dallas ground game lead the Texans to victory.
The team would relocate to Kansas City after the game. The 1965 season may have been the best of McClinton's career. He led the AFL with six rushing touchdowns, caught a career best 37 passes for three more scores, and led the team with a career best 661 rushing yards.
The Chiefs won the AFL title again in 1966, and McClinton was named to the Pro Bowl after leading all Kansas City running backs in receiving and grabbing a career best five touchdowns.
The Chiefs faced the NFL's Green Bay Packers in now what is referred to as Super Bowl I. McClinton became the first AFL player to ever score in a Super Bowl by catching a seven-yard pass to tie the game early in the second quarter.
After making the Pro Bowl in 1967, he got hurt and was replaced by rookie Robert Holmes in 1968. Kansas City used him as a reserve fullback and tight end the next year, taking advantage of his excellent blocking abilities.
He spent the entire 1969 season blocking, never touching the ball all season. The Chiefs would go on the win Super Bowl III and McClinton retired after the game.
When he retired, he was second on the Chiefs all-time rushing list. He still ranks eighth best. No Chiefs fullback has been to the Pro Bowl as much as McClinton.
Not only is Curtis McClinton a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame, but he is easily the greatest fullback in franchise history.
For those clamoring for the legendary Christian "The Nigerian Nightmare" Okoye at this slot, he did play fullback often. However, his greatest moments happened in one-back sets, making him also eligible as a halfback on this team.
Robert Holmes, Christian Okoye, Mack Lee Hill, and Tony Richardson deserves mention.
Halfback : Priest Holmes
Holmes went undrafted in 1997, so he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. He did not play much as a rookie, returning just one kickoff for 14 yards.
Things changed the next year immensely after the Ravens got rid of their 1996 backfield. Holmes became the primary back and ran for 1,008 yards.
Not only is he the first 1,000-yard back in Ravens history, but his 227 yards on 38 carries in the 11th week against the Cincinnati Bengals was a team record until Jamal Lewis set an then-NFL record with 295 yards in 2003.
Holmes spent 1999 banged up and Errict Rhett got most of the carries. Holmes still piled up 557 yards on just 89 carries, an outstanding 5.7 yards per carry average.
Baltimore drafted Lewis in 2000 and named him the starter. He responded with 1,364 yards, which helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. Holmes was still an important part of the offense, despite the fact Lewis touched the ball primarily.
Holmes ran for 588 yards and caught 32 passes, yet the Ravens rarely used him as they went from a Wild Card team to champions.
Now a free agent and disillusioned with his role, Holmes signed a contract with the Chiefs that was a relatively paltry sum. The move turned out to be a revelation for both Kansas City and Holmes.
He led the NFL with 1,555 yards on a career high 327 carries. He also caught 62 balls, and his 2,169 yards from scrimmage led the league.
While Holmes was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 2001, he would duplicate those honors in each of the next two seasons as well.
The 2002 season may have been the best of Holmes career, despite the fact he missed the final two games because of injury. He was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
He ran for a career best 1,615 yards, averaged a career best 115.4 yards rushing per game, caught 70 passes, and led the NFL with 21 rushing touchdowns and 2,287 yards from scrimmage.
Holmes followed that up with an NFL record 27 rushing touchdowns in 2003, as well as catching a career best 74 balls.
While his record of 27 rushing touchdowns was broken in 2005, Holmes is tied with Emmitt Smith for the record as the only players in NFL history in consecutive season to have 20 or more rushing scores.
Holmes was having perhaps the best season of his career in 2004. In eight games, he had piled up 892 yards, ran for 14 touchdowns, and led the league with an average of 111.5 yards rushing per game. He was given the Ed Block Courage Award for his heroics both on and off the gridiron.
He was hurt during the eighth game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was lost for the season. Holmes came back the next year, but suffered an injury to his spine in the seventh game and was out for the season.
After sitting out of the entire 2006 season, Holmes tried to play in 2007. He appeared in four games, starting two. Averaging a career low three yards a carry and failing to reach the end zone for the first time since his rookie season, he retired.
No other Chief has run for more yards or touchdowns than Holmes. His 86 career rushing scores n the 14th most in NFL history.
While Kimber Anders ties Holmes with the most Pro Bowls by a halfback in Chiefs history, Holmes is the only one with three First Team All-Pro nods.
Despite carrying the ball just three years for the Ravens, he still ranks fourth in franchise history for career rushing yards.
The Chiefs have had a bevy of great running backs in their history, so there really is no wrong selection here. I chose Holmes for his historic four seasons for the Chiefs, something we may never see duplicated again.
Abner Haynes, Mike Garrett, Ed Podolak, Barry Word, Kimble Anders, Larry Johnson, Joe Delaney, Tony Reed, and Christian Okoye deserves mention.
Wide Receiver : Otis Taylor
Taylor was drafted in the fourth round of the 1965 AFL Draft by the Chiefs and the 15th round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
In those days, the NFL would "babysit" drafted players in hopes of keeping them from AFL scouts. However, Taylor crawled out of his hotel window to talk to legendary Chiefs scout Lloyd "Judge" Wells.
Wells ended up signing such great players like Hall of Famers Buck Buchanon, Willie Lanier, and Emmitt Thomas, along with many other great players.
The NFL was behind the times in those days when it came to small predominantly black colleges, something the AFL never was, despite having had several legendary players excel on their fields from those schools in the past.
Philadelphia not only lost Taylor to the AFL, they later cut sixth-round pick Garry "Ghost" Garrison and watched him become a Pro Bowl receiver for the San Diego Chargers. Rick Redman, a tenth-round selection, became a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Chargers.
Now a Chief, Taylor paired up with Pro Bowlers Chris Burford and Frank Jackson to give Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson an exciting trio of receivers.
While he was a reserve his rookie season, he still grabbed 26 passes, was second on the team in touchdown catches, and impressed everyone with his excellent and aggressive blocking.
Kansas City made him a starter in 1966, so Taylor tied Burford for the team lead of 58 receptions and eight catching scores. He also gained 1,297 yards, a whopping 22.4 yards per catch average that led the AFL, and was named a Pro Bowler and honored as a First Team All-Pro.
In the AFL title game that year, the Buffalo Bills did a good job on the Chiefs ground game. So Taylor and Burford became the primary weapons. Taylor caught five balls for 78 yards and a score as the Chiefs prevailed.
The victory propelled them into a Super Bowl I match up with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Taylor caught four balls for 57 yards, but the Chiefs stopped the Chiefs running game cold and ended up winning 35-10.
He caught a career best 59 balls in 1967, leading the AFL with a career best 11 touchdown catches, but was somehow left off the Pro Bowl squad. He next two years were injury filled, causing him to miss three contests each year.
Yet he got healthy in time for the Chiefs playoff run in 1969. He caught just two passes in Kansas City's divisional playoff victory over the New York Jets, but they went for 74 yards and helped set up scoring opportunities.
Dawson completed just seven passes against the Oakland Raiders in the championship game, but Taylor grabbed three for 62 yards and helped set up key scored in the Chiefs 17-7 win.
In Super Bowl V against the Minnesota Vikings, he grabbed six balls for 81 yards. His 46-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter is an NFL Films staple, and it helped the Chiefs seal the franchises only Super Bowl victory.
Taylor went to the Pro Bowl again in 1971 after catching 57 passes for a league leading 1,110 yards. He also led the NFL with an average of 79.3 yards caught per game. He was also honored with his last First Team All-Pro nod.
The 1973 season was his last as a Pro Bowler, where he again caught 57 balls. Dawson began to lose starts to Mike Livingston, and running back Ed Podolak became Livingston's primary pass target.
After missing four games in 1974, he suited up for one game the next year and then retired.
No other Chief had more receptions or touchdown catches when he left the game. Though tight end Tony Gonzales has passed him in receptions and touchdowns caught, Taylor still ranks second and heads the list of all Chiefs wide receivers.
His three Pro Bowls and two First Team All-Pro honors also heads the list amongst all Chiefs receivers.
Ex-Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt often said Taylor deserved induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Not only was Taylor a great blocker with a fiery disposition, he was incredibly acrobatic and had enough speed to stretch the seam of the defense.
His career average of 17.8 yards on 410 receptions shows this. He was an extremely reliable receiver who the running backs depended on as much as his quarterback.
But Taylor was more than just a receiver and blocker. A wonderful athlete, the Chiefs had him carry the ball 30 times for 161 yards and three scores with them over the years.
Many Chiefs fans and observers will agree that Otis Taylor is the best wide receiver in team history.
Wide Receiver : Chris Burford
Burford was a ninth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1960 NFL Draft. He decided to sign with the Dallas Texans in the American Football League.
While having a sturdy build of 6'3" 220, Burford was far from a speedster. He was an incredible possession receiver who ran precision routes.
He caught 46 passes as a rookie while averaging a career best 17.2 yards per reception. Burford made his only Pro Bowl the next year after leading the team with 51 catches and gain a career high 850 yards.
Business began to pick up in 1962 when the Texans signed future Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson. He and Burford showed that they obviously spent several extra hours working on precision and timing.
The Texans won the AFL title in 1962 and Burford was named First Team All-Pro after leading the AFL with a career best 12 touchdown catches.
His 1963 season was his best, catching a career high 68 passes for 824 yards and nine touchdowns.
While having previously teamed up with Pro Bowler Frank Jackson at receiver, Burford was then teamed with Otis Taylor in 1965. While Burford led the team in receptions that season, despite missing three games, he and Taylor shared the title of most receptions in 1966.
The Chiefs won the AFL championship that year, propelling them to face the NFL's Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I. While the Chiefs lost 35-10, Burford did leads the team with four catches for 67 yards.
He played one more season, catching a career low 25 balls, then retired.
His 391 career receptions was a team record until Taylor passed him with 19 more in 1974. Yet he still ranks fourth best to this day, and his 55 receiving touchdowns ranks third best.
Not only was Chris Burford the very first Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro receiver in franchise history, his excellent route running and receptions along the sideline are still legendary.
He is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame. Some say that the Dawson to Burford connection along the sidelines ranks right with the immortal Johnny Unitas to Raymond Berry connection.
Carlos Carson, Andre Rison, Frank Jackson, Stephone Paige, Henry Marshall, Eddie Kennison, and J.T. Smith deserves mention.
Tight End : Fred Arbanas
Before Tony Gonzales came to Kansas City to begin a career that will probably end up in Canton, many Chiefs backers had long been asking the Pro Football Hall of Fame to induct Arbanas.
He was drafted by the Dallas Texans in the seventh round of the 1961 AFL Draft. The Saint Louis Cardinals drafted him in the second round of the NFL Draft, but didn't offer as much money as the Texans did.
Arbanas quickly exploded onto the AFL scene and was the top tight end of the league immediately.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in five of his first six seasons as a player. He was also named First Team All-Pro three times.
He was an outstanding blocker and a big threat in the passing game. While most tight ends in his era were possession receivers, Arbanas could get deep and stretch the seam of the defense.
Not only did this free up receivers from being double-teamed, it opened up the excellent Kansas City ground attack even more.
His finest season may have been in 1964, where he matched his career high mark of 34 receptions. He also had a career best eight touchdowns and 20.2 yards per catch average.
He did not play the Pro Bowl that year because an injury late in the season caused blindness to his left eye for a lengthy period of time.
Besides being a great player, most people associated with the Chiefs in his era speak of what a great teammate and leader Arbanas was.
He was admired for his indomitable drive and will to win. Arbanas also had the propensity to come up huge in the Chiefs biggest games. His 29-yard touchdown catch in the 1966 AFL title game got the Chiefs on the board early in their 31-7 victory.
Injuries began to take their toll in 1968, which led to a decline in production as a receiver. Yet his blocking and leadership was as valuable as ever.
In his last three seasons, before retiring after the 1970 season, Arbanas caught 35 passes. His final year saw him miss the only eight games of his career.
Arbanas retired with a Super Bowl ring and three AFL Championship rings. His 198 catches for 3,101 yards and 34 touchdowns were all Chiefs records for a tight ends then, as were his five Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro nods.
While Gonzales has passed him in most categories, he still ranks second in those surpassed. Yet his career average of 15.7 yards per catch is easily better than the 11.9 Gonzales averaged.
What makes it much more impressive is the fact Arbanas dealt with a ten-yard chuck rule his whole career, while Gonzales just dealt with the five-yard rule put in place in 1978. His 34 touchdown receptions also rank the fifth best in Chiefs history.
Not only is Arbanas a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame, but he was named the starting tight end on the AFL All-Time Team that was selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.
Fred Arbanas is the greatest tight end in AFL history, yet his numbers also measure up to Hall of Famers John Mackey and Mike Ditka. Those two are considered by many as the best NFL tight ends in the 1960's.
While Gonzales may now be called the best tight end in Chiefs history, Arbanas, a much better blocker, is not far behind.
Walter White and Jonathan Hayes deserve mention.
Tackle : Jim Tyrer
Tyrer was drafted in the third round of the 1961 American Football League draft by the Dallas Texans, the first draft the AFL ever held. He was the 22nd player chosen overall. He was also drafted in the 14th round of the NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.
Tyrer was named the starting left tackle immediately by the Texans, now in their second year of existence under the leadership of future Hall of Fame head coach Hank Stram. The Texans would go on to win the AFL Championship in 1962, as Tyrer was named to his first of nine straight Pro Bowl honors.
Hall of Fame owner Lamar Hunt, a founder of the AFL, was unhappy with attendance despite winning the title. Though he wanted to keep the team in Dallas, he decided to move the team to Kansas City and rename them the Chiefs because he was tired of sharing the same stadium, the Cotton Bowl, with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL and suffering from low attendance figures.
Tyrer was unaffected by the transition, as he received the first of six straight First-Team All-Pro nods in 1965, establishing him as the top left tackle in all of professional football.
The Chiefs would win the 1966 AFL title, but it was also the first season the AFL and NFL decided to hold a championship game between the two leagues. Kansas City faced the Green Bay Packers of the NFL but lost the game 35-10.
In 1967, Hunt was watching his children play with a toy called a Super Ball. He then had the idea of calling the AFL and NFL title game the Super Bowl. The Chiefs would reach this game in 1969, the last one player between AFL and NFL teams before the two leagues merged.
It was also the season where Tyrer was named the AFL Offensive Lineman of the Year. Kansas City would win Super Bowl IV, dismantling the Minnesota Vikings 23-7. It has, so far, been the last Super Bowl in which the Chiefs have appeared in.
Tyrer missed two games in 1973 for the first time in his career. His string of 180 straight games played is the third-longest streak in club history, and he started in each one of them. Kansas City thought the 34-year old was nearing the end of his career because he had finished his second season where he failed to make the Pro Bowl. They traded him to the Washington Redskins.
He played in every game for the Redskins in 1974, though he mainly served as a back up to Ray Schoenke. He did, however, start in one game. Washington won their division, but were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Los Angeles Rams. Tyrer decided to retire at the end of the year.
Despite being the best left tackle in AFL history, he has yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though he was a finalist once in 1981, no player in the history of professional football has more accolades than Tyrer and has failed to be inducted.
One reason may be because of the reason he died in 1980. Suffering from depression, Tyrer committed suicide after killing his wife. Though depression was not much of a subject to speak about in that era, it is as though the Hall of Fame voters have kept him out of Canton due to perhaps their lack of knowledge of this subject.
In recent years, professional football has almost begrudgingly acknowledged depression and the fact that it can occur after severe head trauma over a long period of time. "Post Concussion Syndrome" is the commonly used term and these effects have been brought to light by gridiron legends who have suffered from it following their football careers.
Hall of Famers like John Mackey and Mike Webster are two who have suffered from this type of trauma. A game thought to be so violent that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was seen on television contemplating banning the three-point stance from the game in an attempt to reduce head injuries.
Tyrer played in an era where offensive linemen were instructed to use their heads as weapons. They were told to bury their heads into the chests of defenders first.
This was also an era where offensive linemen were not allowed to use their hands like they do in the current game. They had to put their arms in the shape of a chicken wing, as they relied on quick feet and strong shoulders to take control of their opponents.
Opposing defensive ends were allowed to use their fists back then, and the head slap move was perhaps the most used method to beat blockers. While unable to defend themselves, offensive linemen lead with their heads as they had been taught.
Defenders would attempt to counteract this by dodging blockers, then slapping them upside their heads to get the blocker off balance. In doing so, they were given a clearer path to those who possessed the football.
Though Tyer regularly faced the opposing teams' best pass rushers, he was unflappable and consistent. Men like Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, Rich "Tombstone" Jackson, Larry Eisenhauer, and Ben Davidson were just a few of the stellar defensive ends he faced each week for several seasons.
Davidson is the man who Tyrer admitted was the toughest opponent he faced. The respect was mutual. Davidson called Tyrer a "mountain of a man," though Davidson stood 6'8" and weighed 275 lbs., himself.
"He was easily the best blocker I ever faced," Davidson recalls. "He had power and finesse. He could have made an excellent guard, too. We were friends off the field, as Tyrer was all about good sportsmanship. "We used to go to the AFL All-Star games together on a bus. We would joke if either he or my teammate, Hall of Famer Jim Otto, had the biggest head in football. I often would say at banquets that Tyrer basically wore a big red trash can as a helmet when he played."
Davidson believes that Tyrer has long deserved his induction into Canton, as does Bethea. Bethea was inducted himself in 2003.
"Tyrer was the pioneer of big offensive tackles. He was the best blocker I ever faced" Bethea said. "I used to try to run as fast as I could upfield to get around him, but it rarely worked. It pissed me off that I couldn't defeat him, as I could with other left tackles regularly."
Bethea also admits he feared facing Tyrer. "He was THE preeminent left tackle in all of football. All other blockers I faced in the NFL were mediocre compared to him. He would just swamp me each game to where I would be lucky to beat him even once in a game," he said.
Paul Zimmerman, a Hall of Fame voter and writer for Sports Illustrated, has often said Rich "Tombstone" Jackson was the greatest pass rusher in pro football history and has long lobbied for his induction into Canton. Jackson, though he would like to be inducted himself, also has a tremendous amount of respect for Tyrer.
"It is a travesty that Jim Tyrer has yet to be inducted into Canton," he said. "He was one of the first big offensive linemen with quick feet to play pro football. Besides having good feet, he was crafty and smart. "You had to be prepared facing him, as the Chiefs won-loss record was proof of how excellent their players were. Tyrer was the top offensive lineman I ever faced, and that included the AFL and NFL."
Larry Eisenhauer, whose four Pro Bowls are tied with Bob Dee and Richard Seymour as the most in Patriots franchise history, also echoes Davidson, Bethea, and Jackson in thinking that Tyrer should have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame long ago.
"He was the best I ever faced," Eisenhauer recalls. "He was equally excellent run blocking and pass blocking. He was a very strong man, and I never looked forward to facing him. I really cannot believe he has not been inducted into Canton yet. He was the best left tackle in AFL history."
Tom Keating was a two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who played on two AFL Championship teams.
"Jim Tyrer was one of the most dominant tackles in all football," he said. "When I was with the Raiders, Ben and I rarely ran stunts against Ed Budde and Tyrer. If I went first in the stunt, Jim would close down and I was faced with 6'6" and closer to 300 lbs. I was 6'2" and weighed 247 lbs."
"If Ben went first (took an inside rush), I had to loop way outside and by the time I got outside, Lenny Dawson was throwing the ball. Ben and I had much better luck one-on-one with Ed and Jim."
"Jim was a excellent drive blocker and was good at hooking the defensive players," said Keating. “He deserves induction into Canton."
If Tyrer has the respect of his peers, many who are amongst the finest to ever play, then it adds to further confusion as to why he has yet been given his long awaited induction.
One theory is a lingering disrespect to the American Football League itself. NFL players were told back then that the AFL was an inferior brand of football, full of players who lacked the skills to play in the NFL.
Homer Jones, a Pro Bowl wide receiver of the New York Giants, is known as the man who invented spiking the football after a touchdown and holds the record for most yards per catch for a career.
"We were told the AFL was a Mickey Mouse organization yearly to keep us from wanting to play there, even for more money. When we finally faced those guys, we realized that they were as good as us. Maybe even better in some areas," he said.
Jackson recalls his Denver Broncos played the first preseason contests between the two leagues.
"We played against both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings," he said. "We weren't always the best team in the AFL, never winning more than seven games in a season in the entire time we spent in the AFL. We were told we had no chance against the NFL, but we won both games."
The AFL has just 30 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who once played in their league. Several joined the league just before the merger, having played the majority of their careers under the NFL umbrella. Only one, Billy Shaw, was inducted despite having played his entire career in only the AFL. At his ceremony, he was forced to wear a jacket that had the NFL logo emblazoned on it.
"There may be a lingering AFL disrespect when it comes to voters," said Ed Budde, an offensive guard also on the AFL's All-Time First Team and teammate of Tyrer for eleven years. He played alongside Tyrer and went to seven Pro Bowls himself.
"Jim played at a top level with great skill for a long time. His body of work is proof of his excellence, and he should be inducted into Canton," he said.
Many football fans and his peers believe Budde should also be inducted, but he has somehow not yet been given this honor.
For some reason, Canton has become the NFL Hall of Fame, instead of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though several players spent time in other leagues, the Hall of Fame seems to make sure these contributors' biographies concentrate mostly on their NFL exploits.
The Cleveland Browns, who dominated the All-American Football Conference, never get their true respect as a dynasty because they came from another league initially.
There is a long list of AFL players awaiting induction into Canton to this day, as inferior modern players go in ahead of them. One theory for this is that the NFL still is upset at being forced to merge with the AFL, because the upstart league was taking viewers and money away from them.
Voters living in the wallets of the NFL have chosen to ignore gridiron excellence for fear of losing their positions. Positions they no longer sit in with the pure intentions they once held.
Though many feel the way Tyrer's life ended was the reason for his exclusion from the Hall of Fame thus far, it also points out another hypocrisy of Canton. When Michael Irvin was inducted in 2007, it was met by a huge backlash from NFL fans who couldn't understand his induction ahead of Art Monk and others, because of his notorious lifestyle as opposed to the squeaky clean lifestyle of others.
The official reason given for Irvin's induction is that garnering the honor is based on a player's body of work on the field, not off of it. If this truly is the case, then it shows the flaw in logic for omitting Tyrer thus far.
"It is time to wipe the slate clean and induct him," says Davidson. "Life goes on. These types of events happen daily. We are turning him into a Pete Rose by excluding him, though everyone knows he should be in."
Depression was an issue people in Tyrer's era dealt with internally; it was not as acceptable to seek help for it as it is today. He battled it as his business ventures failed and he struggled to keep his four children enrolled in private schools.
"We didn't make a lot of money," Davidson remembers, "so we worked extra jobs to make ends meet. I worked with several teammates as valets at a race track. We would park the customers' cars, then sprint back as a way to keep in shape. I remember one time I was riding a bus to an AFL All-Star game with Jim. I was telling him of my post-career plans of being a landlord. He proceeded to tell me of all of these plans he had. He kind of made me feel inadequate, my owning apartment buildings. I also thought perhaps he was too spread out in his interests and might be too aggressive."
As his financial situation suffered, his depression worsened to the point it led to his death.Though none of his family members saw it coming, most acknowledged that he was depressed at the time.
"I felt my dad's mental state at the end of his life must have been impaired and that very well could have been as a result of the trauma his brain experienced during his football career", says Brad Tyrer, the oldest son of Jim and Martha.
One thing all of his children have done is forgive him for that fateful day. They still love their father and hope to see Canton finally give him his long overdue earned respect. "Dad belongs there, but I am unsure if the voters will ever put him in," says Brad.
Pete Duranko was a defensive end for seven seasons with the Denver Broncos. Not only was he a friend, having had dinner with Tyrer and their wives, but he faced him several times on the field.
"He was the best offensive tackle ever, and one of the best to ever have played football," Duranko says enthusiastically. "He didn't get his full recognition because he was on those excellent Chiefs teams, but he was load to deal with."
Duranko has spent his post-football career working with players who suffer from depression and also deals with his own health issues and depression.
"It creeps up on you" he said. "People, especially the voters, do not understand mental illness. Jim was a strong man who did his best to hide his disease. He didn't want people to know he was depressed and preferred to try to deal with it himself. "When we were in the game, if you didn't play, you'd go highway. Meaning you got released. This made you play through all sorts of injuries, especially concussions."
Duranko is yet another of a long line of players who feel Tyrer deserves induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A list that includes Hall of Famer Willie Lanier and Fred Arbanas. Arbanas, a six-time Pro Bowler and member of the AFL All-Time Team and Chiefs Hall of Fame, was Tyrer's roommate for ten years and perhaps his best friend on the team.
While many of those close to Tyrer feel head injuries suffered while playing football contributed to his depression, there are some who are unsure. Al Lundstrom is Tyrer's brother-in-law and played football with him at Ohio State University.
"Jim was smart, hard to move, was fast on his feet, and was also very big. Many players were unable to use the head slap on him because of his height. Though he was depressed about his financial situation, I am not convinced his depression was brought on by post-concussion syndrome," he said.
Even if he did not suffer from a head injury after his career, his accolades speak loudly for a long overdue respect that should be attained now. The voters really have no excuse nor reason not to bestow it.
If it is AFL disrespect, the building clearly has a sign that says PRO FOOTBALL Hall of Fame, NOT the NFL Hall of Fame. The American Football League certainly played pro football, as their two Super Bowl wins in four meetings with the NFL prove.
No player in the history of professional football, who is able to be voted into Canton, has attained more accolades than Tyrer and has failed to be inducted by the voters yet. He was named All-AFL in each of the eight seasons he played in the league
Canton is full of players with much less accomplishment and respect. Many defensive ends who faced him state he was the best offensive tackle ever in AFL history. Even better than Hall of Famer Ron Mix or eight-time Pro Bowler Winston Hill, who also awaits his induction.
If the excuse of the voters is that they have not forgiven him for how his life ended 30 years ago, they fail to realize it has been three decades and it is time to forgive...especially having hurriedly inducted a questionable character like Michael Irvin.
If an induction into Canton truly is about what a player does on the gridiron alone, their exclusion of Tyrer becomes more ludicrous and has to bring into question what reasons the voters have used to prevent his induction.
Tyrer, himself, once described what playing offensive tackle was like. “You have to have a certain personality to be an offensive lineman. You have to be orderly, disciplined. You have to take the shots like a hockey goalie. It's a passive violence. You build up anxiety. But when you finally get a clear shot at a guy, you say, 'Take this for all of those.' ”
Not only did his opponents "Take it for all of those," but he gave it better than anyone who ever played his position in the entire history of the American Football League. He had no peer at his position.
Quite simply, he was the best to ever suit up at left offensive tackle for the Chiefs or the AFL. Tyrer is a member of the Chiefs Ring of Honor and Hall of Fame.
As time passes, not only do we tend to forget the life of Jim Tyrer and how it ended, but we also tend to forget all of his excellence attained in the game of football. The voters of Canton can be held guilty of this, especially the Seniors Committee. A committee whose sole job is not to forget greats.
All you have to do is look at the career of Tyrer to see how great he was, because it is in plain black and white print. There are few who ever played his position in the history of pro football to succeed on his level.
Of the 11 men who were voted into Canton so far as offensive tackles, nine have fewer accolades than Tyrer. Only Lou "The Toe" Groza has appeared in as many Pro Bowls, though he was named to two less First-Team All-Pro Teams. Anthony Munoz is the only offensive tackle in Canton who has more combined Pro Bowls and First-Team All-Pro honors than Tyrer.
"A travesty," as Rich Jackson states, might be too light a word for Tyrer's exclusion from Canton. Utterly disgusting, distasteful, and disrespectful may be more apt.
If his own family can forgive him and move on, it is time the voters do so as well. There is no player right now in the entire history of professional football more deserving of induction into the Pro Hall of Fame than Jim Tyrer
Tackle : Willie Roaf
Roaf was drafted in the first round of the 1994 draft by the New Orleans Saints, where he was the eighth overall selection. The Saints immediately installed him as their starting right offensive tackle.
Over the next eight seasons, Roaf played left offensive tackle, missed just three games, and went to the Pro Bowl seven times. He was also named First Team All-Pro twice.
He was named to the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team as a starter, but suffered an injury seven games into the 2001 season and missed the rest of the season.
The Saints organization made the mistake of thinking the injury would affect his play, because they traded him to the Chiefs before the 2002 season for just a conditional draft choice.
Roaf proved New Orleans woefully wrong by playing four seasons for the Chiefs and being named to the Pro Bowl each year. He was named First Team All-Pro after the 2004 season as well.
The 2005 seasons was his last. Even though he went to the Pro Bowl, Roaf missed six games because of injury. He then decided to retire, having gone to the Pro Bowl in 11 of his 13 seasons played.
Even though he played just half of the decade, his excellence had him named to the second team of the NFL's 2000's All-Decade Team.
His seven Pro Bowl games as a Saint in the most in that franchises history. His four Pro Bowls with the Chiefs is second only to the legendary Jim Tyrer as the most by an offensive tackle for the team.
Willie Roaf will soon be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he wins a spot on this team until then.
John Alt, Dave Hill, Jeff Cornilison, Matt Herkenhoff, and Irv Eatman deserve mention.
Guard :Ed Budde
Budde was the first-round draft pick of the American Football League's Dallas Texans in 1963. He was the ninth player picked overall. He was also a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL, where he was the fourth player picked overall.
The Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs before the 1963 season began. Budde's impact was immediate. He was named to the AFL All Star team in his rookie year.
Budde went on to have the second longest tenure in Chiefs franchise history, behind Chiefs Pro Bowl punter Jerrel Wilson.
Budde was fast and explosive. He would pancake most of his opponents with regular proficiency. He had the quickness to get to the next level to clear even a wider path for his team mates.
He was also technically sound and rarely let his opponent sack the Chiefs quarterback.
Budde went to seven Pro Bowls in his first nine seasons. He was hurt in 1975 and only played one game. After returning the next year to play 11 games, Budde retired after the 1976 season. He is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
He played in six AFL All-Star games. He was named to the Sporting News AFL All-League team in 1969.
Budde was the first offensive lineman to be selected by the Associated Press as an Offensive Player of the Week. He is considered to be one of the greatest guards to have ever have played in the AFL by many.
Budde helped lead the Chiefs to two American Football League Championships wins and a victory in Super Bowl IV. He was named to the AFL’s All-Time Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His son, Brad Budde, also played guard with the Chiefs for six seasons.
Ed Budde may be the greatest offensive lineman to have ever played for the Chiefs. That is quite a statement when you recall the long list of NFL greats who have been Chiefs.
He was very athletic and strong. He did not miss a game his first nine seasons, and missed just three games in his first 12 years.
He was the anchor of a great Chiefs offensive line that featured such greats as Pro Bowl center Jack Rudnay, perennial Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jim Tyrer, offensive tackle Dave Hill, guard George Daney and Pro Bowl tight end Fred Arbanas. All, except Daney, are members of the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame.
Tyrer and Arbanas are also members of the AFL All-Time Team team.
Perhaps, due to all of the great Chiefs players during Budde's era, Canton has overlooked his place in history? If you look at all of his accomplishments on the gridiron, it should be a fairly easy decision to induct him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Guard : Dave Szott
Szott was drafted by the Chiefs in the seventh round of the 1990 draft. He impressed the coaches quickly and ended up starting 11 games in his rookie year.
He remained a constant force in the Chiefs offense the next eight years, missing just two games over that time.
He was named First Team All-Pro after the 1997 season, the first Chiefs guard to get this honor since Ed Budde in 1969. He got hurt in the first game of the 1998 season and missed the rest of the year.
After playing in 14 games the next year, he got hurt in the first game of the 2000 season and missed the rest of the year.
Szott joined the Washington Redskins the next year and started every game. He then went to the New York Jets in 2002 and got hurt in the fourth game, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.
After starting 15 games in 2003, the 36-year old Szott retired. In 2006, he became the Jets team chaplain.
Szott's humanitarian work with those afflicted with cerebral palsy had him win the Ed Block Courage Award twice in his career. He was a tough player who is amongst the finest guards in Chiefs history.
Billy Krisher, Marvin Terrell, and Tom Condon, now a famous players agent, deserve mention.
Center : Jack Rudnay
Rudnay was drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 draft. He did not join the Chiefs until the 1970 season because he hurt his back in the 1969 College All-Star game and had to sit out the entire year.
He began to take starts from incumbent starter E.J. Holub as a rookie, quickly meshing in with Chiefs legends Jim Tyrer, Ed Budde, and Dave Hill.
Rudnay was named the starter the next year, an honor he help the rest of his career. He missed one game that season, the only game he missed until 1980.
Rudnay was quickly recognized as one of the top centers in the NFL, but Hall of Famer Jim Otto and Bill Curry blocked his path to the Pro Bowl. That changed in 1973 when Rudnay made the first of four straight Pro Bowls.
Hall of Famers Mike Webster and Jim Langer then went to go to the Pro Bowl instead. He missed four games in 1980, the last games he missed in his career. It ended a streak of 144 games.
He retired after the 1982 season having played 178 games, the third most ever by a Chiefs offensive linemen and the most ever by a Chiefs center.
Jack Rudnay is inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame and he is certainly the best center in franchise history.
Jon Gilliam, E.J. Holub, Kendall Gammon, and Terry Grunhard deserve mention.
Kicker : Nick Lowery
Lowery came to the NFL as an undrafted player, but he would soon become the first professional athlete who graduate from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Raised in Washington D.C., he tried out for the Washington Redskins but was cut. He then got a job with the New England Patriots for two games in 1978.
While he made all seven extra points, Lowery missed his two field goal attempts. The Patriots cut him and he was out of football until 1980.
The Chiefs had just parted ways with Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud after the 1979 season. Stenerud signed with the Green Bay Packers and lasted four years there. He then played two years with the Minnesota Vikings before retiring.
Lowery won the job in camp, and held it the next 14 seasons. His teammates called him "Nick the Kick".
Consistency and excellent accuracy was his calling card, no matter where on the field Kansas City asked him to perform. He led the NFL in field goal percentage three times with them, and led the league in field goal attempts and makes once as well.
The 10 field goals he missed in 1981 and 1984 was the most he ever had with the team. Yet he made his first Pro Bowl in 1981.
Lowery had at least 100 points 11 times with the Chiefs. He had 97 in another season, and had 83 and 74 in the two strike-shortened seasons.
The 1990 season was probably his best. He made an NFL-leading 34 field goals on a career high 37 attempts. His 139 points led the NFL, and he was honored as First Team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl that year.
The Chiefs let him leave after the 1993 season, the year he won the Byron "Whizzer" White Award for his humanitarian work, so he signed with the New York Jets.
Lowery kicked three seasons for the Jets before retiring after the 1996 season. When he retired, Lowery held several NFL records for a kicker.
He still ranks in the top 13 in points scored and extra points and field goals made. He ranks 29th in career extra point percentage, and 33rd in field goal percentage.
Lowery is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and he was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
While he attempted 26 fewer field goals as a Chief than Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud, he made 50 more than the Chiefs legend. Lowery missed four extra points in 483 attempt, while Stenerud missed 15 in 409 attempts.
He made eight more kicks from 50 or more yards than Stenerud, even though he had 11 less attempts. He also made more field goals at a higher percentage than the Hall of Famer on 26 less attempts.
The three Pro Bowls Lowery accrued as a Chief are two less than Stenerud, but his two First Team All-Pro nods are one more than the Hall of Famer.
His 212 games with Kansas City is the second most in team history. Of his 1,711 career points, 1,466 came as a Chief. It is the most in team history, as 1,231 of Stenerud's 1,699 career points was with Kansas City.
It is hard to say Lowery is the best kicker in team history, considering Stenerud is the only pure placekicker inducted into Canton. Also, the playing conditions were extremely different in both players eras.
But is is not hard to say he had a career at least equal. That, along with all of the team records he holds, puts him on this Chiefs team.
Tommy Brooker deserves mention.
Return Specialist : Dante Hall
As most Chiefs fan know, this franchise has been blessed with a ton of utterly fantastic return specialists. Yet Dante Hall was so good at returning either punts or kicks, he will own this spot all by himself.
Hall was selected in the fifth round of the 2000 draft by Kansas City. He played just five games as a rookie, handling special teams duties in a part-time fashion.
The Chiefs sent him to NFL Europe to refine his skills. Hall led the league in kickoff returns was was second in all-purpose yards. When the 2001 season began, he was Kansas City's full-time return specialist.
Kansas City did not just have him return kicks. Hall, a wide receiver, also ran the football a lot in the beginning of his career. He had 11 attempts in 2001, then 16 the next year. He had 54 attempts in his career.
Hall was a possession receiver whose 40 catches in 2003 was his best. He caught 162 passes for nine scores in his career, at an average of 10.8 yards per catch.
Yet it was his return ability that cemented his place in NFL history as one of the greatest ever. He had several nicknames like "The Human Torch", or "The Human Joystick", or "The X-Factor".
He exploded on the NFL in 2002, his first Pro Bowl season. He led the NFL with two touchdowns off punt returns and scored another one off a kickoff return.
The 2003 saw him make the Pro Bowl for the final time, as well as garner his only First Team All-Pro honor. It also may have been the finest season of his career.
Hall led the NFL with a career best 2,446 all-purpose yards. He again led the NFL with two punt return scores, which included a league leading 93-yard return that was the longest of his career. He also led the NFL with a career best 16.3 yards per punt return.
Hall also led the NFL with two kickoffs returned for touchdowns. This includes a career long 100-yard return that led the league.
He somehow did not make the Pro Bowl in 2004 after leading the NFL in all-purpose yards, kickoff attempts and yards, and scoring twice off of kick returns.
Hall was second in the NFL in all-purpose yards the next year, while scoring once off a kick return. The 2006 season was his last with the Chiefs, where he took a punt return in for a touchdown.
He then was traded to the Saint Louis Rams for a pair of draft picks. Injuries curtailed his Rams career, forcing him to miss 17 games over two seasons.
He was able to return a punt 85-yards for a score and a kickoff 84-yards to set up a score in his time with the team. Hall retired after the 2008 season, but he still holds several Chiefs records.
His two years with two punt and kickoff returns for scores in a season is the most in team history. He holds the top four spots for most kickoff returns in a season and four of the top five in all-purpose yards. Jamaal Charles' 2009 season ranks second.
Hall's 16.3 average on punt returns is the best in Chiefs history by anyone with nine or more returns. Hall ranks first in Chiefs history in kickoff returns, kickoff return yards, and kickoff returns for touchdowns.
His five punt returns for touchdowns is the most in team history, and he ranks third in total punt return yards. The six punt returns for scores in his career is the eighth most in NFL history. His six off of kickoffs is the third most ever.
He ranks fifth in NFL history with kick and punt returns and yardage. His 12 non-offensive scores ranks ninth best ever, and his 10,136 career kickoff return yards ranks fourth best.
He also ranks in the top-34 in all-purpose yards, career punt return yards, yards per touch, and longest punt return ever.
Hall was a special player despite having just six healthy seasons. His place in the history of professional football is securely placed amongst the greatest ever.
He is a member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team and should one day soon be inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
Tamarick Vanover, whose eight career touchdown returns would place him at the top of most teams lists, J.T. Smith, Johnny Robinson, Willie Mitchell, Dale Carter, Noland Smith, Abner Haynes, Ed Podolak, Paul Palmer, and Dave Grayson deserve mention.
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