Note: This article is the first in a five part serious counting down the 50 greatest players in team history.
Ok, here it is, the mother of all lists. It’s taken me a lot of time to come up with this list. This list is mine and it’s completely subjective. You’ll find in the coming weeks themes that are unintentional but unavoidable. Because I didn’t witness more than 25 years of games, I’m forced to rely on record books and the written accounts of others.
When you read the rankings, keep in mind that after the first 15 or 20 players, it’s pretty much a toss up. Was Dale Carter a better cornerback than Kevin Ross? No one can say for sure. I know I can’t.
Certainly, I’ve left some players out. Some of you will shake your head and wonder what I was thinking when ranking the players. But that’s what makes this so much fun. #1 on my list might be #20 on yours, and vice versa.
And another thing, to make this list a player must be retired. Thus, no Tony Gonzalez, no Priest Holmes, and no Will Shields.
So don’t sweat it too much. It’s a list, and it means nothing. All that matters is what these men did. And that their names live on.
Derrick Alexander (WR, 1998-2001)
Mike Bell (DE, 1979-1985, 1987-1991)
Joe Delaney (RB, 1981-1982)
Tim Grunhard (C, 1990-2000)
Henry Marshall (WR, 1976-1987)
Joe Montana (QB, 1993-1994)
Noland Smith (KR, 1967-1969)
Gary Spani (LB, 1978-1986)
Dave Szott (G, 1990-1999)
Tamarick Vanover (KR/WR, 1995-1998)
Elmo Wright (WR, 1971-1974)
50. Bill Kenney (QB, 1979-1988): The Chiefs always seemed to be looking for someone to replace Kenney as the starting quarterback, even after he made the Pro Bowl, but Kenney possessed a great arm and a cool persona that led the Chiefs’ offense better than anyone else during his time with the club. Kenney put together one of the most prolific passing seasons in team history in 1983 when he threw for 4,348 yards and 24 touchdowns. The yardage total is still a team record by almost 1,000 yards. For his career, Kenney passed for 17,277 yards and 105 touchdowns. He also scored five rushing touchdowns and had a career 54% completion rate. Kenney played in 123 games for the Chiefs.
49. Frank Pitts (WR, 1965-1971): Pitts came to the Chiefs as a fourth-round draft pick in 1965. He had speed and desire, but throughout his first three seasons in Kansas City, he acquired a “bad hands” label. He worked through the problem, and when Otis Taylor was injured in 1968, Pitts stepped in. He was a starter the next three seasons, and his end-around reverse runs became a big part of the Chiefs’ offense. In 74 games for the Chiefs, Pitts caught 78 passes for 11 touchdowns and ran the ball 24 times for 238 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs traded Pitts to the Browns before the start of the 1971 season.
48. Stephone Paige (WR, 1983-1991): On December 22, 1985, Paige had the game of his life, breaking the NFL record for receiving yards in Kansas City’s 38-34 victory over the Chargers. He caught just eight passes that day, but amassed 309 yards, a performance that broke a forty year old record. But, his best season was in 1990, when he hauled in 65 receptions for 1,021 yards. Paige played nine seasons for the Chiefs, caught 377 passes for 6,341 yards and 49 touchdowns.
47. Marcus Allen (RB, 1993-1997): No longer wanted in Oakland, Allen joined the Chiefs in 1993 and helped lead the team to the AFC Championship game. Allen was named to the Pro Bowl that season, rushing for 764 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns. In his five season with the Chiefs, Allen rushed for 3,698 yards and scored 47 touchdowns. But maybe his most important contribution to Kansas City was his champion heart and drive to win.
46. Dan Saleaumua (DT, 1989-1996): He came to the Chiefs as a free agent in 1989, but Dan Saleaumua proved to be one of the best bargains the franchise ever acquired. The big man dominated offensive lines and was one of the main reasons the Chiefs enjoyed outstanding success in the 1990s. Saleaumua was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Pro team in 1989 and 1990, and also garnered honors from Pro Football Weekly in 1990. He totaled 531 tackles during his career with the Chiefs, made 29 sacks, recorded three interceptions, scored two touchdowns and two safeties, and blocked a field goal. Saleaumua played in 125 games for Kansas City and was selected for one Pro Bowl.
45. Dino Hackett (LB, 1986-1992): A second-round pick out of tiny Appalachian State in 1986, Hackett made the starting lineup immediately and contributed with 140 tackles in his rookie season. Hackett was named to the Pro Bowl in 1988, but was unable to play because of a knee injury. He continued to play for the Chiefs through the 1991 season, until injuries caught up with him. He tried a brief comeback in 1993 with the Seahawks, but played in just three games for them. Hackett played in a total of 85 games for the Chiefs, recorded nine sacks, and grabbed one interception.
44. Mike Livingston (QB, 1968-1979): Livingston was thrust into the limelight of the Chiefs’ offense in 1969 when Len Dawson injured his knee. The second-year quarterback didn’t miss a beat, and neither did the Chiefs. Behind Livingston, the Chiefs maintained a course to the Super Bowl while Dawson recuperated. But after that season it was back to the bench for Livingston. Then in 1976, Livingston finally got his shot. He responded by throwing for 2,682 yards and 12 touchdowns. For his career, Livingston threw for 11,295 yards, ran for 682 yards, and tossed 56 touchdown passes.
43. Jim Kearney (DB, 1967-1975): He was the quiet man on the Chiefs defense; intense, coiled, ready. Surrounded by other players who got more attention. Kearney spoke little and played big. He provided a consistency in the Chiefs secondary for more than eight seasons, playing a big part in the team’s success in the late 60s and early 70s. Kearney put together one of his best seasons in 1972 when he picked off five passes and returned four of them for touchdowns, tying an NFL record. For his career, Kearney had 23 interceptions and five touchdowns in 115 games for the Chiefs.
42. James Hasty (CB, 1995-2000): A tenacious, hard hitter. Hasty’s play was a big reason for the Chiefs division winning teams in 1995 and 1997. Hasty came to the Chiefs via free agency and he immediately provided a missing part to the Chiefs defense. Hasty was named to the Pro Bowl following the 1997 and 1999 seasons. Hasty appeared in 94 games for the Chiefs and recorded five sacks and 21 interceptions.
41. Jim Marsalis (CB, 1969-1975): He was the first cornerback ever taken by the Chiefs in the first round of the draft, and his addition to the team was the final piece Hank Stram was looking for to solidify an already outstanding defense. Marsalis picked off just two passes his rookie season (because nobody threw at him), but he was still selected for the AFL All-Star game. For his career, Marsalis intercepted 14 passes and played in 78 games for Kansas City. And while he never returned to the Pro Bowl, he maintained his high level of play until injuries limited his playing time in 1973 and 1974.