Note: This article is the fourth in a five part serious counting down the 50 greatest players in team history.
Were getting closer and closer to #1, which makes narrowing down this list even harder. All of these players were great, and their achievements can be measured in many different ways. But, it is my list, so here we go with this week’s countdown.
20. Christian Okoye (RB, 1987-1992): During his six seasons with the Chiefs, Okoye was as dominating a running back as the NFL had ever seen. Okoye was selected by the Chiefs in the second round of the 1987 draft out of tiny Azusa Pacific. The Chiefs all-time leading rusher when he retired, Okoye topped the 1,000 yard mark in a season twice and led the NFL in rushing in 1989 with 1,480 rushing yards. A two-time Pro Bowler, Okoye finished his career with 4,987 yards rushing, 40 touchdowns, and an average of 3.9 yards per carry. Okoye retired following the 1992 season because of knee problems.
19. Jack Rudnay (C, 1970-1982): He was tough and determined, consistent and reliable, manning the snapper’s job for Kansas City for more than a decade. Rudnay was selected in the fourth round of the 1969 draft, and after missing the Super Bowl season due to a back injury, he took over the starting center spot the following season. Rudnay earned four straight Pro Bowl appearances and more importantly, he was a winner, despite playing on some very poor teams. Rudnay played in a total of 178 games for Kansas City, the third most by a Chiefs offensive lineman.
18. Art Still (DE, 1978-1987): Selected in the first round of the 1978 draft, Still more than lived up to expectations and became a defensive force for Kansas City. Although he played on some of the Chiefs lesser teams, Still was selected for the Pro Bowl four times. Still led the Chiefs in sacks six times, twice registering 14.5 in a season. He finished his career with the Chiefs as the team’s No. 3 all-time sack leader with 72.5, and also had 992 tackles and 11 fumble recoveries. Three times Still led the team in tackles. Still was traded to Buffalo in 1988 where he played two seasons before retiring.
17. E. J. Holub (C/LB, 1961-1970): Holub played linebacker from 1961 through 1967, but when his knees had slowed him so much he could no longer play the position, he switched to center and played his final three seasons there. His linebacking play was superb, and he was named to five AFL All-Star teams. He was also the center on the Chiefs 1969 Super Bowl championship team. The price he paid for his long career was steep, though, as Holub endured nine knee operations throughout the course of his playing days. Holub finished his career with nine interceptions and played in 127 games for Kansas City.
16. Sherrill Headrick (LB, 1960-1967): He was tough and wild. His reckless nature and all-out disrespect for his body earned him the nickname “Psycho.” Headrick was selected for five AFL All-Star games and played on the Texans’ 1962 championship team and in Super Bowl I. For his career, Headrick intercepted 14 passes, returning three for touchdowns, and played in 108 games. He played one final season for the expansion Cincinnati Bengals after leaving the Chiefs.
15. Abner Haynes (RB, 1960-1965): The first great superstar of the franchise, Abner Haynes wasn’t just the marquee player on the Texans, he was the best player in the AFL. His first three seasons were nothing short of sensational. He ran for a league leading 875 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 1960 and was selected as the AFL’s first Player of the Year. Haynes gained 841 yards rushing in 1961 and then exploded in the 1962 championship season with 1,049 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. For his career, Haynes scored 56 touchdowns, played in 70 games for the Chiefs, and held nine franchise records. Haynes was traded to the Broncos following the 1964 season and also played for the Jets and the Dolphins before retiring after the 1967 season.
14. Fred Arbanas (TE, 1962-1970): Arbanas was a seventh round pick by the Texans in 1961 following a highly successful career at Michigan State. He missed all of his rookie season following surgery for ruptured disks in his back, and then lost virtually all the sight in his left eye following a mugging incident in 1964. Despite the physical problems, Arbanas was considered one of pro football’s finest tight ends during his nine seasons with the Texans/Chiefs. He caught 198 passes for 3,101 yards and scored 34 touchdowns. He was also a fierce blocker and a big part of the Chiefs running game throughout the 1960s. Arbanas was a five-time All-AFL selection, and was also named to the all-time AFL team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
13. Jerry Mays (DT, 1961-1970): Mays was selected by the Texans in the fifth round of the 1961 AFL draft, and for the next 10 years he was a standout for the Texans/Chiefs on the defensive line. His physical attributes were not overly impressive–he was six-foot-four and 252 pounds–but his desire and skill were overwhelming. Mays was named to the all-time AFL team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was selected to play in the AFL All-Star game six times. Jerry Mays died on July 17, 1994, in Lake Lewisville, Texas.
12. Emmitt Thomas (CB, 1966-1978): One of the finest cornerbacks in the history of the Chiefs, Thomas was stationed in the Chiefs secondary for 13 seasons and consistently displayed the skill, determination, and heart demanded by his position. Thomas came to Kansas City in 1966 as an undrafted free agent from Bishop College in Dallas. After spending some time on special teams, Thomas moved into the starting right cornerback position in 1968 and made his first (of six) AFL All-Star teams that season. His 62-yard interception return against the Raiders in the 1969 AFL championship game set up the game-clinching field goal and he also picked off a pass in Super Bowl IV against the Vikings. He finished his career as the Chiefs all-time interception leader with 58, and is eighth on the NFL’s all-time list. Thomas went into coaching following his career and recently served as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles and Packers.
11. Ed Budde (G, 1963-1976): Budde came to Kansas City as one of the team’s two first round draft picks in 1963 and during his 14 seasons with the Chiefs he was widely recognized as the best guard in the league. Budde was big for a guard, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 260 most of his career. He was quick and strong, but it was his consistency and technique that made him an All-Star. Budde was selected to play in the AFL All-Star game and the Pro Bowl seven times and was a member of both Super Bowl teams. He played in a total of 177 games for the Chiefs. His son Brad, a first round selection in 1980, played for Kansas City too, giving the Chiefs a unique father-son connection.