Kansas City Chiefs: Top Defenders Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

JW NixSenior Writer IIMay 11, 2011

Kansas City Chiefs: Top Defenders Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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    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 defensive players in the history of the Chiefs not yet inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Defensive Tackle: Bill Maas

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    Maas was the Chiefs first-round draft pick in 1984, the fifth player taken overall.

    He became an instant star for the team at nose tackle, being named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year despite missing two games. 

    After a career-high seven sacks in 1985, he matched that total the next season and was awarded his first Pro Bowl nod. He went back again in the strike-shortened 1987 season after getting six sacks and scoring a touchdown off of a fumble recovery. 

    Maas got off to a fast start in 1988, getting four sacks and a safety in his first seven games. He then got hurt in the eighth game and missed the rest of the season. 

    The 1989 season was the first year in his career he didn't have a sack, as it was shortened to 10 games because of injury. He did score the last touchdown of his career off of a fumble. 

    Kansas City moved him to defensive end in 1990. He got 5.5 sacks and a safety that season. After an injury-filled 1992 season, he joined the Green Bay Packers

    He spent most of the year backing up John Jurkovic at nose tackle, though he did start three games. After having just the second year of his career without a quarterback sack, he retired. 

    His 40 career sacks is tied with Mike Bell as the seventh most in team history, and is the most by either a defensive tackle or nose tackle. 

    Bill Maas is the only nose tackle in Chiefs history to make the Pro Bowl. He was the first Chief ever to win a Rookie of the Year Award, and he might be the best nose tackle in franchise history.

Defensive Tackle: Curley Culp

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    Culp was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos in 1968, where he was the 31st player picked overall. 

    He was was traded to Kansas City after the 1968 draft for a fourth round pick in the 1969 draft.  That pick turned out to be offensive guard Mike Schnitker, who played with the Broncos from 1969 to 1974.

    Culp found his way into nine games during his rookie year.  He broke out in his second year in the AFL, as he was named to his first Pro Bowl team and helped the Chiefs get to Super Bowl IV.

    It was in that game, the 3-4 defense was born.  

    Hall of Fame Head Coach Hank Stram decided to put Culp right over Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl center Mick Tingelhoff. Culp's immense strength and quickness overwhelmed Tingelhoff to the point where he began to command double, sometimes triple teams.  

    This freed Hall of Famers like Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, along with Pro Bowl safety Johnny Robinson, to make plays as the Chiefs shut down the Vikings and won 23-7.  

    Culp would go on to play the 1971 Pro Bowl. He was twice honored as the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Week during his tenure in Kansas City and led the 1973 Chiefs in sacks with nine. He would play in Kansas City until the beginning of 1974.  

    Culp had signed on to play in the World Football League for 1975, so he was traded four games into the season to the Houston Oilers in one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history.  

    The Oilers also acquired Kansas City's 1975 first-round selection, which turned out to be Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Brazile, for defensive end John Matuszak.

    Culp was the ingredient Houston needed to excel in the Oilers' 3-4 defense. He was named to the 1975 Pro Bowl and was chosen NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.

    Culp also received the George Halas Trophy after accumulating 11.5 sacks, an unheard-of statistic for a nose tackle.  

    Teamed with Hall of Fame defensive end Elvin Bethea and great linebackers like Brazile, Ted Washington Sr., and Gregg Bingham, Culp helped lead some excellent Oilers teams that went to a AFC Championship game.  

    In 1975, he recovered a career-high three fumbles and took one 38 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career. In 1977, Culp snared the only interception of his career and rumbled 25 yards. 

    Culp was named to Pro Bowls from 1975 to 1978 while in Houston. In 1979, he was named Second Team All-Conference by both the UPI and Associated Press.

    By 1980, he was battling injuries and started just five of 10 games in Houston.  The Oilers released him during 1980, and he was claimed by the Detroit Lions.

    He finished that year in Detroit, starting in two of three games. Culp tried to play in 1981, but ended up playing just two games before retiring. 

    Culp was named by the Sporting News to the All-Century Teams of both the Kansas City and Houston/Tennessee franchises.

    He was voted by a panel of former NFL players and coaches to Pro Football Weekly's All-Time 3-4 defensive team.  

    He was be inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame. The Tennessee Titans are said to be working on creating their own team Hall of Fame and Culp will certainly be inducted into it one day as well.

    Trying to summarize Culp's career may be best said by his comrades.  

    Chiefs Pro Bowl center Jack Rudnay said, "Every center in the league should have to go against Curley in order to know what it’s like to go against the very best.”  

    Hall of Fame Center Jim Otto claimed, "Curley Culp was perhaps the strongest man I ever lined up against." 

    Culp was once reported to have broken the helmets of three teammates during a scrimmage at Arizona State University. He had tremendous leverage to go with his massive strength and superior quickness.  

    There was a time some thought he benefited from lining up next to Buchanan, but he showed in Houston that he was still an unstoppable force.  

    Often facing multiple blockers on each snap of the ball, he used his wrestling knowledge to sift through the opponents on his way to the ball.

    I find it amazing Culp hasn't been inducted into Canton. He was the key person who popularized the 3-4 with his intelligence and abilities.  

    Former Oilers head coach Bum Phillips once said, "Curley made the 3-4 defense work. He made me look smart."  

    Well, the Hall of Fame voters certainly look anything but smart. You see politics involved too much in the Canton voting process. I've been told by certain voters that they are disgusted with this process themselves. 

    It is as if some voters don't want too many players from one team. Look how long it took for Chief Emmitt Thomas to get inducted, and how Chiefs legend Johnny Robinson somehow hasn't been yet.  

    He did excel with two teams, so whatever the hold up is by the voters is unacceptable. Curley Culp should have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by now. 

    Dan Saleaumua, Joe Phillips, John Browning and Paul Rochester deserve mention.

Defensive End: Jerry Mays

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    Mays was drafted in the fifth round of the 1961 AFL Draft by the Dallas Texas, as well as in the 11th round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

    Having been born and raised in Dallas, he signed with the Texans. His rookie year saw Mays used as a reserve who played all over the defensive line. He had the only interception of his career that season. 

    The Texans plugged him into the starting lineup at defensive tackle in 1962. He responded with a Pro Bowl season, helping the Texans capture the AFL crown.  He stayed at defensive tackle until 1964, when he again made the Pro Bowl.

    The Chiefs then moved him to defensive end in 1965. Mays would go to the Pro Bowl the next four years and would be named First Team All-Pro twice.

    In the 1966 season, he had a key sack in the AFL title game and shared a sack in Super Bowl I. Though he did not go to the Pro Bowl in 1969, he came up big when his team needed him most.

    Mays had a sack in their AFL Championship win against the Oakland Raiders, and another sack in their Super Bowl V win over the Minnesota Vikings. 

    The 1970 season was his last as a player, one that saw Mays make the Pro Bowl yet again. He then retired. 

    Jerry Mays is a member of the starting unit on the AFL All-Time Team and was the third person to be inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

    He never missed a game in his entire 10 seasons, which covered 140 games. His seven Pro Bowls is only exceeded by the eight of Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan. His five Pro Bowls as a defensive end is only matched by Neil Smith as the most ever in franchise history. 

    Many people believe the only reason Mays is not inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the same reason Johnny Robinson has yet to go in.

    With Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, and Emmitt Thomas inducted from that defense, it is as if Canton put a quota on the unit and a limit has been reached. 

    Yet there is no doubt Mays belongs. Not only is he one of the very best defensive lineman in AFL history, Mays is one of the greatest Chiefs ever.

Defensive End: Neil Smith

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    Smith was drafted by the Chiefs in the first round of the 1988 draft. They had to swap positions in the draft with the Detroit Lions to make Smith the second overall selection. 

    He spent his rookie year sharing starts with Mike Bell, Leonard Griffin and Mike Stensrud, starting in seven of the 13 games he appeared in. Smith was given the starting job full-time the next year, a duty he would hold eight seasons. 

    While Smith was excellent at rushing the passer, he was an all-around athlete that could burn an offense several ways. He picked off four balls in his career, scoring once. Smith also took one of his 12 fumble recoveries in for a touchdown. He was also strong against the run.

    But his intelligence set him apart from many of his peers. 

    Smith liked to flinch at opposing linemen, causing them to move and get called for false starts. He was so good at this that the NFL banned it in 1998, dubbing it the "Neil Smith Rule."

    His prime years saw him get named to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons, beginning in 1991. After getting 14.5 sacks in 1992, along with a career-high 77 tackles, he led the NFL with a career-best 15 sacks the next year. It also was the lone time he was honored as a First Team All-Pro.

    He had double-digit sacks for four straight years until 1995. 

    Smith left Kansas City after the 1996 season to play with the Denver Broncos. He shared the team lead of 8.5 sacks with Alfred Williams and Maa Tanuvasa as he made his final Pro Bowl squad that year. 

    Denver got into the playoffs as a Wild Card team that year, eventually facing the Chiefs in a divisional playoff game. Denver won 14-10, thank to two key sacks by Smith. 

    He came up with another important sack in the Chiefs' 24-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Smith then recovered a fumble in the Broncos 31-24 Super Bowl XXXII win over the Green Bay Packers

    Denver repeated as champions the next season as Smith continued to be an important part of their defense. In the Broncos' playoff win over the New York Jets, Smith scored the final points of the game by taking a fumble 79 yards for a touchdown. 

    After becoming a part-time starter in 1999, he joined the San Diego Chargers in 2000. He appeared in 10 games and retired after failing to record a sack for the first time in his career. 

    His 104.5 career sacks still ranks 19th best in NFL history.

    The 85.5 sacks he had with Kansas City is the second most in team history and the most by a defensive lineman. His 12 fumble recoveries is the second most by a Chiefs defensive lineman. 

    Neil Smith is inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame and member of the second unit on the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. He is certainly one of the best defensive ends in franchise history. 

    Mel Branch, Art Still, Gary Stills, Mike Bell, Wilbur Young, Aaron Brown, Jared Allen and Eric Hicks deserve mention.

Outside Linebacker: E.J. Holub

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    After a legendary collegiate career that had Holub inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the native Texan was drafted by the Dallas Texans in the first round of the 1961 AFL Draft, where he was the eighth overall selection. The NFL's Dallas Cowboys made him their second-round pick. 

    He was put at left outside linebacker, where he would go to the Pro Bowl in three of his first four years. He missed the 1963 Pro Bowl because of injury, but earned his second consecutive First Team All-Pro honor that year. 

    It may have been his best year, as he had a career-best five interceptions. But perhaps his career highlight to that point happened when the Texans won the 1962 AFL title. Holub had a key interception and returned it 43 yards to set up a score. 

    He switched to right outside linebacker in 1965 and went to the Pro Bowl the next two years. In the Chiefs' Super Bowl I loss in 1966, Holub collected a quarterback sack. 

    Holub had been playing on wobbly knees heroically the last few seasons. When his knees caused him to miss five games in 1967, Kansas City switched to the offensive side of the ball to play center. 

    Though he never went to the Pro Bowl in his three years at center, his leadership and toughness drew the admiration of both teammates and peers. Holub was the starting center of the 1969 Chiefs team that won Super Bowl V.  

    His balky knees forced to retire after the 1970 season, but he is the only player to have not only started on both sides of the ball in Super Bowl history, he is the only one to have started at two separate positions. 

    Holub's five Pro Bowls are behind Hall of Famers Bobby Bell and Derrick Thomas as the most in franchise history, as is his two First Team All-Pro nods. 

    E.J. Holub is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame and one of their greatest players.

Middle Linebacker: Sherrill Headrick

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    Headrick joined the expansion Dallas Texans as a free agent in 1960. He quickly won a starting job at middle linebacker and was named First Team All-Pro as a rookie. 

    His 1961 season may have been the best of Headrick's career. He returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns and was even asked to return a pair of punts. Headrick was named First Team All-Pro and went to the first AFL All-Star Game. 

    The 1962 season saw the Texans win an AFL title. He once again was named First Team All-Pro and went to the AFL All-Star Game. He was solid the next two years, and Headrick took another interception in for a score in 1963.

    He returned to the Pro Bowl in both 1965 and 1966. The 1967 season was his last with the Chiefs.

    Kansas City had just drafted Willie Lanier that year, a player who would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a middle linebacker. 

    Injuries also began to take a toll on Headrick. Nicknamed "Psycho" by his teammates, Headrick played through a long list of injuries and would take the field never wearing hip pads.

    Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram was quoted in a book titled "The American Football League - A Year-by-Year History, 1960-1969" as saying Headrick played with the highest threshold he had ever seen.  

    Headrick played with a broken neck, an infection in his mouth, and various other ailments. He once was seen with the bone of a finger pierced through the skin, Headrick popped the bone back into place between plays.

    The style of play left him bound to a wheelchair in his final years of life before dying on cancer in 2008. 

    He joined the expansion Cincinnati Bengals in 1968 and retired after being healthy enough to play just eight games. Cincinnati had also just drafted a rookie middle linebacker named Bill Bergey, who would later go to five Pro Bowls. 

    Not only was Headrick one of the first Chiefs to ever go to the Pro Bowl or be named First Team All-Pro, his three First Team All-Pro ties Lanier as the most ever by a Kansas City middle linebacker. His four Pro Bowls are second to Lanier as the most by a Chiefs middle linebacker. 

    Sherrill Headrick is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame and is one of the toughest and best linebackers in the history of their team. 

    Tracey Simien, Marvcus Patton, Gary Spani, and Dino Hackett deserve mention.

Outside Linebacker: Jim Lynch

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    Despite a College Football Hall of Fame career that saw him win the 1966 Maxwell Award, the NFL did not attempt to draft Lynch in 1967.

    The Chiefs made him a second-round pick in the 1967 AFL Draft three picks ahead of Chiefs Hall of Fame middle linebacker Willie Lanier. 

    After starting three games as a rookie, he earned the starting job in 1968 and held it the rest of his career. It was also perhaps the best season of his career. He grabbed a career-best three interceptions, returning one for the only touchdown of his career.

    Lynch was awarded his only Pro Bowl that year. While Lanier and fellow Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell got most of the press, Lynch was a solid all-around linebacker himself. He was a steady and consistent force. 

    In a playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins in 1971, the longest game ever played in NFL history, Lynch had an interception. He never missed a game until his final season in 1977, where he missed three but matched his career best total of three interceptions. 

    Since retiring, he was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame and won the 1992 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.  

    His 14 fumble recoveries is the fifth most by a defender in Chiefs history. The 17 interceptions he had is the third most ever by a Chiefs linebacker. Jim Lynch is one of the best defensive players to ever have played for Kansas City. 

    Walt Corey, Whitney Paul and Donnie Edwards deserve mention.

Strong Safety: Johnny Robinson

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    Robinson was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1960. He was the third player picked overall. He opted to go to the fledgling American Football League, where he was a territorial pick of the Dallas Texans.

    Under Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram, Robinson started his pro football career as a halfback. He rushed for 458 yards in his rookie year, at an average of 4.7 yards per carry, and also caught 41 passes for 611 yards that accrued an impressive 14.9 yards per catch average.  

    Robinson also returned 14 punts for 207 yards at an outstanding 14.8 return average, and returned three kickoffs for 54 yards. He scored four touchdowns rushing, four touchdowns receiving, and returned a punt for a score.  

    In 1961, Robinson rushed the ball less. He had 52 carries for 200 yards and scored twice via the run while catching 35 passes for 601 yards, which is an exceptional yards per catch average of 17.2, for five touchdowns.

    He only returned two punts that year and would only be asked to return four more his entire career.

    In 1962, Robinson was moved to strong safety on defense by Stram. It turned out to be a great move for the Texans.  

    Though he did catch the last pass of his career on offense for 16 yards, he also picked off four passes. Robinson helped the Texans win the AFL Championship by picking off two balls in the title game.  

    The Texans moved to Kansas City after that season and were renamed the Chiefs. In 1965, Robinson picked off 5 passes and returned them for 99 yards.  

    The 1966 season was one of Robinson's best. He set a career high in interceptions with 10, and returned them for 136 yards, while scoring the only defensive touchdown of his career via an interception.

    He helped lead the Chiefs to the first Super Bowl ever against the Green Bay Packers.  He followed that with 11 interceptions the next two seasons.

    In 1969, Robinson set a career high with 158 yards off eight interceptions. The Chiefs would go on to beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.  

    Robinson would intercept a pass and recover a fumble that game while playing with broken ribs, which helped keep the Vikings from scoring more than seven points.  

    He then had a great year in 1970, when the AFL merged with the NFL. He tied his career high with 10 interceptions. He also had 155 interception return yards and took a fumble 46 yards for the last touchdown of his professional career.  

    In 1971, Robinson had four interceptions. His last game came on Christmas Day, when the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins played the the longest game in NFL history. It was also the Chiefs' last home game in Municipal Stadium. Robinson retired during the off season.

    Johnny Robinson hold the Chiefs franchise record for a safety with 57 interceptions for his career. He ranks second overall in interceptions behind Hall of Fame cornerback Emmitt Thomas in Chiefs history. 

    He is still ranked tenth all-time in NFL history in career interceptions, tied with four other players.

    His 43 interceptions in the AFL ranks third all-time in the league's history.  He led his team in interceptions five times in his career.

    He is a member of the All-Time All-AFL Team and one of only 20 players who were in the AFL for its entire 10-year existence.  

    Robinson was a six-time American Football League All-Star selection and is credited by many to have redefined the role of the strong safety in professional football.

    His career was more than spectacular.  He was the consummate team player who did whatever it took to help his team win, whether it was on offense, defense or special teams.

    His stats do not lie, and his impact on the game is immeasurable. He belongs in Canton.

    Lloyd Burris, Jim Kearney and Greg Wesley deserve mention.

Free Safety: Deron Cherry

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    Cherry went undrafted in 1981, so he signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent punter, but was cut at the conclusion of the preseason. Cherry was signed by the Chiefs in late September as a safety after injuries hit the position.

    Cherry has been often called one of the top free safeties in NFL history. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler in his 11-year career.

    Cherry's 15 career fumble recoveries place him in a three-way tie for the Chiefs record.  He ranks third on the Chiefs list of most interceptions, and is only the 26th player in the history of the NFL to reach the 50 interception plateau.

    In 1987, he was selected to the Chiefs 25-year All-Time Team, and named the Chiefs NFL Man of the Year.  In 1988, Cherry won the Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award. When the NFL named the 1980s All-Decade Team, Cherry was amongst those selected.

    Cherry picked off a pass early into his rookie year, then waited until his third season to get another. That year, he picked off seven passes.  He would pick off seven passes in each of his next two seasons as well.

    He scored the only touchdown of his career in his fifth season.  Cherry then picked off nine passes in his sixth season, which led the entire NFL that year. He followed that up with three interceptions in the strike-shortened season of 1987.  

    He picked off seven passes, once again, the following season. His final NFL season saw him pick off four passes. Though he was never asked to punt in the NFL, Cherry did return seven kickoffs for 145 yards in his first four seasons.  

    Cherry topped 100 tackles six times in his career and accumulated 927 unofficial tackles in his career. Cherry led Chiefs in tackles four times and in interceptions on six occasions.

    When Cherry joined the Chiefs, they had an exceptional defense. The secondary was led by Gary Barbaro, who played Cherry's position. Lloyd Burris was a newly drafted strong safety who started right away.

    Teamed with cornerbacks Eric Harris and Gary Green, the Chiefs often picked off passes.  Barbaro, a three-time Pro Bowler in his seven seasons, bolted for the United States Football League in 1983.

    Cherry and Burress would form one of the NFL's best safety tandems until they retired together in 1991. The pair picked off 72 passes for five touchdowns, recovered 24 fumbles, and went to eight Pro Bowls in the 145 games they played together.

    Cherry is a class act. His play on the gridiron was spectacular, but he never was one to blow his own horn.  

    He preferred to donate his free time to charities and is still active with many organizations. He became a part-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 1995 expansion year also.  

    When you look at his career, it can be lauded for several areas of excellence. If you just stick to his gridiron play, you see him on the 1980s All-Decade team, as well as seven Pro Bowls, to go with 50 interceptions.  

    Whatever the hold up for his induction has been, there can be no excuses nor reasoning. Deron Cherry epitomizes the definition of what a football player should strive to attain to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Gary Barbaro, Dave Webster, Jerome Woods, Mike Sensibaugh and Bobby Hunt deserve mention

Cornerback: Albert Lewis

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    Lewis was drafted in the third round of the 1983 draft by Kansas City. He spent his rookie year as a reserve, but still managed four interceptions. 

    Three-time Pro Bowler Gary Green then joined the Los Angeles Rams after the season, elevating Lewis into the starting lineup. He was soon joined by rookie Kevin Ross to help safeties Deron Cherry and Lloyd Burruss form the best secondary in football for many years. 

    His 1985 season may have been his best. Lewis had a career-high eight interceptions and 74 tackles, while scoring a touchdown off of a fumble recovery. 

    Starting in the strike-shortened 1987 year, Lewis began a run of four straight Pro Bowls. He would be named First Team All-Pro in his final two Pro Bowl years.  

    But Lewis was much more than a shut-down cornerback. He also was magnificent on special teams. He blocked 11 kicks or punts in his career, and scored a touchdown off of one in 1993. He also recorded a safety in 1988. 

    Yet, despite all of his greatness, the Chiefs thought his career was winding down after an injury filled 1991 season. They drafted Dale Carter in the first round in 1992, and had him split time with the 33-year old Lewis. 

    Ross played a lot of free safety in 1993, so Lewis started in 13 of the 14 games he played and led the team with six interceptions.

    He then left the team to become a member of the Oakland Raiders, who were in their last season at Los Angeles in 1994.

    Teamed with Pro Bowler Terry McDaniel, and joined by Lionel Washington, the Raiders had a very experienced and effective secondary that season.

    Washington then retired, but Lewis and McDaniel remained a solid tandem until 1997. Now 38 years old, Oakland moved Lewis to free safety in 1998. He responded by taking one of his two interceptions 74 yards for the final touchdown of his career and the only one to come off of a pick. 

    He retired after the season with 42 career swipes, 38 of which happened with the Chiefs. It is the second most by a cornerback in team history, and it ranks fifth best overall. 

    His four Pro Bowls is only exceed by the five Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas had as a cornerback for the Chiefs. Yet his two First Team All-Pro nods are the most ever by a Kansas City cornerback. 

    Lewis is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is one of many wide receivers to have said Lewis was the toughest cornerback they ever faced.

    In 2008, the NFL Network listed the duo of Lewis and Ross as one of the greatest cornerback tandems in NFL history. 

    There is no question that Albert Lewis is one of the greatest cornerbacks in Chiefs history.

Cornerback: Kevin Ross

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    Ross was the Chiefs seventh-round pick in 1984, and he quickly impressed the team so much that he earned a starting job in training camp.

    His inclusion helped make a young secondary perhaps the best in the NFL. All four members of the secondary, Albert Lewis, Deron Cherry, Lloyd Burruss, and Ross, would go on and be named to the Pro Bowl in their careers.

    Besides being exceptional thieves in the passing game, they were incredibly stout against the run. Ross had a career-best six swipes in his rookie campaign, returning one 71-yards for a touchdown. He also had 98 tackles, which led the secondary. 

    Though he was just 5'9" 185, Ross was a very physical player who thrived in bump-and-run coverage. His excellent athleticism allowed for this, because playing bump-and-run defense in the offensive friendly five-yard chuck rule is very difficult. 

    He racked up a career-high 111 tackles in his second season. Ross would pile up 90 or more tackles seven times in his career, getting to the century mark three times and missing it two more times by three tackles total. 

    The Chiefs also started to use him in blitz packages. He had two sacks in 1986, while scooping up a fumble and running it in for a touchdown. Ross was also a tough guy, missing just five games in his first 13 seasons.

    Despite missing the first game of his career in 1988, he still had 99 tackles.  Ross would go to his only two Pro Bowls the next two seasons, a reward for being one of the best cornerbacks in football in his first seven seasons.

    He continued to excel in a Chiefs wonderful secondary that would lose Cherry and Burruss to retirement after the 1991 season. Kansas City drafted Dale Carter in the first round of the 1992 draft, so they moved Ross from the right cornerback to the left side for the first time in his career.

    He had a career-low 58 tackles there, but did take his lone interception 99 yards for the last touchdown of his career. Lewis left the team after that year, and the secondary was now in disarray. Ross had to split time at cornerback and free safety to try and help the defense that year.

    He then left the Chiefs to join the Atlanta FalconsAtlanta decided to line Ross up at strong safety, even though his size was not conducive to the position. Yet he responded with six interceptions and 190 tackles in his two seasons with the Falcons

    He then joined the San Diego Chargers for the 1996 season to play free safety. The 34-year-old had a respectable season, getting 88 tackles, while forcing two fumbles and picking off a pair of passes. 

    Ross went back to the Chiefs in 1997. Kansas City had a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks in Carter and James Hasty, as well as a Pro Bowl free safety in Jerome Woods. Ross appeared in just five games, the only year of his career he failed to pick off a ball. 

    He retired after that year with 38 career interceptions, five sacks, and three touchdowns. Ross had 30 interceptions with the Chiefs, which ranks seventh best overall in team history and third best amongst all Kansas City cornerbacks. 

    His 827 official tackles are the most in franchise history, exceeding Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas by 185 tackles. The 12 fumbles he recovered is tied with Lewis as the most ever by a Chiefs cornerback. 

    When you look at the history of the Chiefs, it is filled with excellent cornerbacks. Kevin Ross is one of the very best to have ever donned their uniform. 

    Gary Green, Dale Carter, James Hasty, Eric Warfield, Dave Grayson, Duane Wood and Fred Williamson deserve mention.

Punter: Jerrel Wilson

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    Wilson was drafted in the 11th round of the 1963 AFL Draft by the Chiefs, and in the 17th round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He was listed as a running back on draft day. 

    He was an all-around great athlete who hailed from Southern Mississippi University. A decade later, that school would produce another great athlete named Ray Guy. Guy was the first punter drafted in the first round and is considered the best in NFL history. 

    While Hank Stram did hand Wilson the ball 22 times in his career, and well as have him catch five balls and throw three passes, the Hall of Fame coach decided Wilson would best help the Chiefs as a punter. 

    Wilson also returned a kickoff as a rookie, one of the few full-time punters in football history to be asked to perform this duty. Yet his high and booming punts is where he garnered most notice. 

    Nicknamed "Thunderfoot" by his teammates, he led the AFL in punting average twice and the NFL three times. He also led both leagues in total yards punted once, and his 72-yard punt as a rookie led the AFL. He also ran in a pair of two-point conversions in his career.

    Stram often said Wilson was the best punter he ever saw play and was, in his opinion, the best kicker in NFL history. 

    Wilson was named the first-string punter on the AFL All-Time Team, but he made his first Pro Bowl after the two leagues merged. From 1970 to 1973, he represented the Chiefs as the AFC punter in the Pro Bowl. 

    He played 15 seasons with the Chiefs, amassing 203 games. It was a team record at the time, and still ranks third most in franchise history. He averaged over 41 yards per punt in 14 seasons, and over 44 yards seven times. 

    After Wilson averaged a then-career low 39.9 yard per punt on a career high 88 attempts in 1977, the Chiefs let him go and sign with the New England Patriots.

    He played one year, averaging a career worst 35.6 yards per punt. He also attempted the only extra point of his career that season, but missed. Wilson then retired, holding virtually every punting record in Chiefs history.

    He was the first Pro Bowl punter in team history. The Chiefs have had just one other, Bob Grupp, who made it once in 1979. 

    No other Kansas City player has ever punted the ball more or for more yards than Wilson. He is so high on the list that it will take a very long time to be supplanted. 

    Not only is Jerrel Wilson the greatest punter in Chiefs and AFL history, but he truly is right up there with fellow alumni Guy as perhaps the best ever to have played the position. 

    Bob Grupp deserves mention.


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