The Kansas City Chiefs are a proud and historic franchise. They do not reside up there among the noblest of NFL royalty such as the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Dallas Cowboys but they are one of the more successful organizations in professional football. They currently sit fourteenth on the all-time winning percentage list with a 52% overall winning percentage and have a single Super Bowl trophy to their name.
The Chiefs are credited for having 20 total Hall of Fame inductees while 11 of them spent the majority of their careers in Kansas City. Four of those 11 make up the most influential people in Kansas City Chiefs history and we will soon find out who those four are.
It can be debated who belongs on the Chiefs edition of Mount Rushmore but for the majority of Chiefs Kingdom, I believe we can all agree whose faces should be chiseled in stone for all eternity.
Mount Rushmore: The Four Most Influential People Of The Kansas City Chiefs
Owner/Founder: Lamar Hunt
Hunt, along with seven others, formed the American Football League in 1959 after failed attempts at buying an NFL franchise. Hunt founded the Dallas Texans as an original AFL team but moved to Kansas City, Missouri after three seasons due to the fact that he couldn’t compete with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys for a fanbase.
Hunt welcomed three AFL Championships as his Texans won the title in 1962 and his rebranded Chiefs brought him two more championships in 1966 and 1969 respectively. Winning the league in 1969 earned the Chiefs the honor of being the AFL representative in the first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game. His Chiefs won the first Super Bowl after the official merger of the two leagues in 1970.
Hunt, or any other Chiefs fan for that matter, never saw the Chiefs compete for the Lombardi Trophy after the 1970 season but Hunt’s fingerprints are all over the Chiefs organization and the NFL. The AFC Championship trophy was named in his honor as the Lamar Hunt Trophy. His son Clark is the current owner of the team and Lamar also founded the Kansas City soccer team in 1995 that has since reached high levels of success.
Head Coach: Hank Stram
Hank Stram has the distinction of being the first coach for the franchise and to this day is the longest-tenured coach in Chiefs history. He coached for 15 total seasons, three in Dallas, 12 in Kansas City.
He won a total of 124 games against only 74 losses. He led the organization to three AFL Championships and two Super Bowls. He lost Super Bowl I to Green Bay and defeated Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
Stram was an innovator on the sidelines. He is credited as being the first professional football coach to use the I-Formation as well as a Two Tight End Set. He was also the first coach to ever be mic’d up during a game. Stram deserves this spot.
Quarterback: Len Dawson
Len Dawson took over for the AFL’s Dallas Texans in 1962 after playing five forgettable seasons in the NFL for Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Dawson led the Texans to an 11-3 record and an AFL Championship. He threw for 29 touchdowns and started a streak of six seasons of at least 21 touchdowns.
Just like his owner and his coach, Dawson was a part of three AFL Championships and the Super Bowl victory. He won 94 games for the Chiefs and leads them in career touchdown passes with 237 and passing yards with 28,507.
Dawson’s influence in Kansas City did not stop on the field. He got into broadcasting while still playing for the Chiefs and eventually became a color commentator for the Chiefs Radio Network. He joined the network in 1984 and just retired in 2017 after 33 years in the booth
Outside Linebacker: Derrick Thomas
The first Chiefs’ selection in the 1989 NFL Draft, Thomas quickly emerged as one of the elite pass rushers in the league. Thomas led the league in 1990 with 20 sacks and for seven out of his 11 seasons, he had double-digit sacks. He never had a season with fewer than seven quarterback takedowns.
Thomas passed away due to injuries suffered in a car accident in 2000. DT was the 1989 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, a nine-time Pro-Bowler, a three-time First Team All-Pro, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. His #58 is retired within the Chiefs organization. He was also a very charitable man within the Kansas City community. He is perhaps the most beloved player to ever don a Chiefs uniform.