Kansas City Chiefs: The 7 Biggest Heroes in Franchise History
According to the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus a hero is a) a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; b) an illustrious warrior; c) a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; d) one who shows great courage.
While the men on this list are not mythological, they are all certainly legendary in their own right. As far as being illustrious warriors, men admired for achievement and men who show great courage, these men certainly portray these characteristics.
The seven players on these slides are ranked in order, and the rankings are certainly up for debate. I hope you enjoy, and of course give me your two cents on where I went wrong in the rankings.
7: Will Shields
Will Shields was a third-round pick out of Nebraska in 1993. Shields is arguably the best offensive lineman ever to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Shields started 223 consecutive games, and was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection. Shields is a lock to get into the Hall of Fame.
Shields led a Chiefs offensive line that blocked for Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. Shields blocked for 1,000-yard rushers and for 4,000-yard passers five different times during his career.
Shields was the personification of class off the field. Shields’ “Will to Succeed Foundation” has helped thousands of children throughout the greater Kansas City area. Shields won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his off-field charitable work in 2003.
6: Priest Holmes
In 2001, Priest Holmes left the Baltimore Ravens and joined the Kansas City Chiefs in an effort to gain more playing time. That proved to be a career defining move by Holmes. That season, Priest’s speed, running ability and strength made him the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,555 yards and 10 touchdowns.
From 2001 through 2003 Priest had more touchdowns than any other player in the NFL. In 2003 Priest scored 27 touchdowns, which broke Marshall Faulk’s NFL record for individual touchdowns in a season.
Due to his dominating performances, Priest was selected to the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Pro Bowl rosters. Priest also was awarded the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award in 2002.
When Priest retired in November of 2007, he held Chiefs records for career rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. Priest also retired as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader among undrafted players.
5: Marcus Allen
Marcus Allen is considered to be one of the game’s best goal line and short-yardage running backs of all time. Allen began his career with the hated Oakland Raiders, but because of the greatness of Al Davis, Allen was traded to the Chiefs. With the Chiefs, Allen would become one of the greatest running backs in the history of the franchise.
In 1995, while a member of the Chiefs, Allen made NFL history when he became the first player in league history to rush for over 10,000 yards and catch passes for 5,000 yards.
At the time of his retirement following the 1997 season, he held the single-season record for most rushing and receiving yards combined (2,314), second in consecutive 100-yard games and was third in career-combined yardage. In other words, Marcus Allen was a beast for the Kansas City Chiefs!
4: Len Dawson
Len Dawson’s name has to come up in the argument when it comes to the biggest heroes in Kansas City Chiefs history. As far as impacting the team, the community of Kansas City and the NFL, maybe only Derrick Thomas has done more than Dawson.
Dawson played 14 seasons for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs. In that time he compiled 28,500 yards passing, 237 touchdown passes and a QB rating of 83.2.
During his first season for the Texans, in 1962, Dawson led the league in touchdowns, yards per attempt and was named the AFL MVP. Dawson threw more touchdown passes from 1962 through 1969 than any other quarterback in the AFL or NFL.
Dawson led the Chiefs to AFL tiles in 1966 and 1969, which led to the Chiefs playing in Super Bowl I and IV. After winning Super Bowl IV, the only Super Bowl in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs, Dawson was named the game’s MVP.
3: Hank Stram
Hank Stram’s success as the Chiefs head coach has been unmatched in Kansas City since his departure in 1971. Stram had amazing success in both the AFL and the NFL, and is the only Chiefs coach to have a winning playoff record.
During the AFL’s 10-year history, Stram lead the Texans/Chiefs to more wins and championships than any other AFL team. Stram was the only coach in AFL history to take his team to two Super Bowls, losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I and defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Stram was one of the first coaches to recognize the importance of television to the NFL and was frequently caught playing to the cameras. Stram was the first to wear a microphone on the sidelines. While in Kansas City, Stram was the innovator of the two tight end offense, the stack defense and the moving pocket.
During his time with the Texans/Chiefs, Stram became known as one of the best evaluators of talent and innovators of the game. Stram left the Chiefs with two Coach of the Year honors, six AFL Championships, and the one and only Superbowl Championship in franchise history.
2: Tony Gonzalez
One of, if not the most, popular Chiefs of all time. Tony Gonzalez has been labeled by many as the greatest tight end to ever play the game. Gonzalez went to 10 Pro Bowls in his 12 years in Kansas City, and caught 76 touchdown passes. Gonzalez will not only go down as the best Chiefs tight end ever, but is in the argument for best receiver along with Dawson.
Gonzalez is the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, yardage and touchdowns for a tight end. Gonzalez currently has 1,069 receptions, 12,463 receiving yards and 88 touchdowns.
Gonzalez will be a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sadly, it appears that Gonzalez will conclude his career in Atlanta as a Falcon with the only thing missing from his resume being a Super Bowl ring. Probably a mistake in the eyes of many, seeing how the Chiefs became contenders last season.
1: Derrick Thomas
Derrick Thomas began his career with the Chiefs in 1989 when he was drafted out of the University of Alabama. In 1989, Thomas started his career off with a bang recording 10 sacks as a rookie and doubling it up with 20 the next season. Also in his second season, Thomas recorded a NFL record seven sacks in one game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Derrick Thomas ranks right up there with all the great linebackers and pass rushers in NFL history. Over a career that spanned 11 seasons Thomas only missed six games due to injury. During those 11 seasons, Thomas racked up career totals of 524 tackles, 127 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, one interception and four safeties. Thomas’ 127 sacks are the ninth most all-time in NFL history.
Thomas was a community-minded person and was one of the NFL's most active players off the field during his playing days. Thomas was honored with various charitable awards during his NFL career, none more important than NFL Man of the Year in 1993.
After his death the flags at Arrowhead Stadium were lowered to half staff. Later that week Missouri Legislature paused for a moment of silence. Thomas' death was announced by former Chiefs quarterback and State Senator Bill Kenney.
“He will be missed by football fans around the nation, but we will miss him in Kansas City for his attitude and his efforts he put forth in our community," Kenney said during the announcement. "Derrick Thomas was a true hero."