The upcoming season marks the 40th season that the Chiefs have been in Kansas City. Counting replacement players, 777 individuals have played for the Chiefs (another 39 players played only in Dallas) in that span of time. Of course, many of those players were only in KC for one or two seasons. Despite that, it is not an easy task to come up with a list of 40 players who were the cream of the crop.
Several people were kind enough to offer their opinions as to who should make the list. Several others were more inclined to name players who should NOT make the list. I will not blame any of these individuals for the list that follows. I chose players based on their relative value to the team, regardless of the position they played. Players like Joe Montana, Mack Lee Hill, and Joe Delaney were tremendous players, but they didn't play long enough to warrant inclusion. Abner Haynes was a tremendous player and would have easily made the list if his statistics from the Texans had been considered. Unfortunately, Abner did not have the same impact on the team after the move north. That said, let the controversy begin.
1. Len Dawson (QB) - Even Joe Montana had to live under Lenny's shadow.
2. Buck Buchanan (DT) - One of the first big, fast defensive linemen. Al Davis had to draft Art Shell to keep his quarterbacks alive.
3. Bobby Bell (LB) - Bell was a terror on defense. Disruptive against the run and the pass. Also a tremendous special teams player.
4. Willie Lanier (LB) - Butkus was probably better against the run, but only by a hair. Lanier, however, was a great pass defender and Butkus wasn't.
5. Otis Taylor (WR) - No telling what his stats would have been if he had played in a pass-happy offense. That one-handed catch against the Redskins in the 1971 season was unbelievable.
6. Tony Gonzalez (TE) - Potentially the best pass-catching TE in the history of the NFL. He has the potential to climb higher on the list.
7. Jan Stenerud (PK) - He wasn't the first soccer-style kicker, but he revolutionized the kicking game.
8. Nick Lowery (PK) - More accurate than Stenerud, but his kickoffs weren't quite as intimidating.
9. Derrick Thomas (LB) - The heart and soul of the KC defense in the '90s. One of the greatest pass rushers in the history of the league.
10. Jim Tyrer (T) - He excelled at pass protection and opening holes for the running game. He should be in the Hall of Fame.
11. Ed Budde (G) - Unbelievably consistent. The only offensive linemen in the history of the AFL to be named offensive player of the week. Another one who should be in the Hall of Fame.
12. Johnny Robinson (S) - Switched from running back to free safety in his third season. Quarterbacked one of the best secondaries in the history of the league and intercepted 57 passes in the process.
13. Ed Podolak (RB) - An all-purpose back. His 350-yard performance against Miami on Christmas Day, 1971, is one of the greatest performances ever.
14. Albert Lewis (CB) - Usually took the opposing team's top receiver out of the game. Excelled at man-to-man coverage.
15. Mike Garrett (RB) - Without Garrett, it's doubtful that the explosive KC offense of the mid-to-late '60s would have worked so well.
16. Jerry Mays (DE) - Only 6-4, 250, Mays played with an intensity that few players have ever matched. His performance in the AFL championship game against the Raiders was stunning.
17. Deron Cherry (S) - Teamed with Burruss, Lewis and Ross to give KC a great secondary for years. Intercepted 50 passes, which is pretty darned good for a guy who started his career as an undrafted punter.
18. Curtis McClinton (RB) - Hailed as the next Jim Brown when he came out of college, Curtis proved to be a powerful blocker, an excellent receiver, and a nifty runner.
19. Marcus Allen (RB) - Even though he was an ex-Raider, Marcus was a class individual who busted his butt for the five seasons he played in KC.
20. Dan Saleaumua (DT) - Dan's ability to plug the middle of the defense allowed Neil Smith, Derrick Thomas, and the others to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Despite his size, Dan was nimble enough to drop back into pass coverage.
21. Emmitt Thomas (CB) - A steady performer who intercepted 58 passes in his 13-year career. Excellent in man-to-man coverage.
22. Lloyd Burruss (S) - Lloyd had a real nose for the football and had a talent for creating turnovers.
23. Neil Smith (DE) - After a slow start, Smith turned into an excellent pass rusher. He was also effective against the run.
24. Jim Lynch (LB) - Bell and Lanier got the post-season honors and all the publicity. Lynch just did his job of covering the tight end and hammering running backs for 11 years with remarkable consistency.
25. Art Still (DE) - Might have become one of the finest pass rushers ever if he hadn't gone on that vegetarian kick and dropped weight. Despite that, he was capable of double-digit sack seasons and held his own against the run.
26. John Alt (T) - Physically, Alt was a giant. However, he relied more on footwork and technique rather than brute strength to keep his quarterbacks from getting blindsighted. Really did a nice job at pass blocking.
27. Jerrell Wilson (P) - "Thunderfoot" launched 1,014 punts in his 15 seasons in KC. Teamed with Stenerud to give the Chiefs the best kickers in pro football.
28. Jack Rudnay (C) - Only 6-3, 240, Rudnay managed to be named to the Pro Bowl five times in his 13-year career. A tough, tenacious blocker who had the misfortune of playing most of his career on some really bad teams.
29. Dave Szott (G) - Szott was only a 7th round draft pick, and he was a long shot, at best, to make the team. He may not have been real athletic, but he was a real mauler who gave the Chiefs 11 solid seasons at left guard.
30. Kevin Ross (CB) - He was a little on the short side, but he could play man-to-man defense with the best of them. His leaping ability allowed him to cover receivers that were 6-7 inches taller than he was.
31. Tamarick Vanover (KR) - He may have been a jerk as a person, but he had a real talent for returning kicks. He scored 4 tds on punt returns and 4 tds on kickoff returns in his five seasons in KC.
32. Will Shields (G) - A solid, reliable right guard who can, and has, played left tackle (and played it well). A tremendous athlete who can pull and trap block.
33. J.T. Smith (KR) - Unlike Vanover, Smith was a solid citizen. Returned 216 punts and averaged 10.6 yards a return with 4 tds. Also a solid contributor at wide receiver.
34. Stephone Paige (WR) - A solid possession receiver who could burn teams deep. He had a talent for getting the first down and wasn't afraid to run routes over the middle.
35. Tim Grunhard (C) - Few defensive tackles were able to dictate to Grunhard. Grunhard and Szott were the reasons why Schottenheimer was successful playing smashmouth football.
36. Dave Hill (T) - One look at this balding, gaped-toothed guy and you would never believe he was a football player instead of a construction worker. He gave you an honest day's work every game for 12 seasons. If only Victor Riley had Hill's work ethic.
37. E.J. Holub (LB - C) - Knee operations eventually forced EJ to play center full time. He was really too small at 6-4, 236, to play there, but he more than held his own. He was also the spiritual leader of the team.
38. Gary Barbaro (S) - Played on some really bad teams in his seven seasons in KC, but he wasn't the reason the team was bad.
39. Christian Okoye (RB) - Trying to tackle the Nigerian Nightmare was like trying to stop a freight train with a feather.
40. Fred Arbanas (TE) - A tremendous blocker. He was also an excellent receiver until he lost his sight in one eye after being mugged. Still managed to come up with the important catch when Lenny needed him to.