Chiefs’ Franchise Four starts with Len Dawson


SEPTEMBER 2015 – This year Major League Baseball came up with the franchise four idea and asked what four players you would have on your team’s Mount Rushmore.  Radio, TV and social media all joined in on the debate on who would be worthy of the honor.

For Royal’s fans, the final vote went to George Brett, Dan Quisenberry, Bret Saberhagen and Frank White.  George and Frank were shoo-ins, while others felt Hal McRae, Willie Wilson, Dennis Leonard or Amos Otis deserved the recognition.  The challenge had to be even greater for New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or Cincinnati Reds fans, since their franchises have been around for more than 100 years.

Recently, I was approached about who would make the Kansas City Chiefs superfecta.  I came up with a few names quickly and others were soon added that required serious consideration. I shared the list with colleagues and friends, and then the discussion began.

Through the great years of the late 1960s to today, many stars graced the field at Municipal and Arrowhead Stadium, leaving a permanent impression on the minds of many fans.  I listened to arguments for and against, and since it’s not just about stats, but what the individual players did for the team, community and overall franchise. Let’s start with my four nominees that fell just shy on my list before announcing the four winners.Sponsor-Chiefs

TONY GONZALEZ: 1997-2008. Considered by many to be the greatest tight end ever to play in the NFL, Tony G. redefined the position.  After a slow start to his career, Gonzalez would eventually dominate the position and holds most of the career tight end records, as well as other receiving records. A 10 time pro bowler with KC, Gonzalez provided KC fans with highlights for many years.  Maybe his departure in 2009 keeps him off the Franchise Four.

PRIEST HOLMES: 2001-2007.  A three-time pro bowler who broke the touchdown record in 2003 with 27,  while on his way to be one of two running backs to have back-to-back 20 or more TD seasons.  He amassed 6,070 yards with Kansas City, which was recently surpassed by Jamaal Charles.  He definitely was mentioned by many as worthy of the honor, but his time spent with KC was injury shortened, and without any playoff wins, kept Holmes from making the four.

WILLIE LANIER: 1967-1977. Making the Pro Bowl eight consecutive years (1968-1975), No. 63 dominated and redefined the middle linebacker position.  Lanier was a pivotal player in solidifying the defense after Super Bowl I.  He was known as “contact” by teammates and accumulated 27 interceptions in his career.  He was yet another great component of Kansas City’s defense worthy of the honor. Many could simply state that his face should be on the mountain.

BUCK BUCHANAN:  1963-1975.  Picked first in the 1963 AFL draft by KC, while Green Bay drafted him in the 19th round, Buck endured 13 seasons in the trenches.  Elected to the NFL Hall Of Fame in 1990, Buchanan was known for his size (6’7” 290 pounds), speed (4.9 seconds in the 40 yard dash and 10.2 seconds in the 100) and bear hug tackles, which corralled running backs and sacked quarterbacks.  Passing away from lung cancer in 1992, No. 86 definitely belongs in the mentioning of the top four.

LEN DAWSON: 1962-1975.  Hall of Famer in 1987, Super Bowl MVP in 1970 and the best quarterback Kansas City ever had, Len Dawson graces a spot on our Mount Rushmore.  Dawson still holds the record for leading the league in completion percentage, eight seasons with six of them consecutive.   Even without the 1969 season, it would be hard NOT to have Len Dawson on the Franchise Four.

BOBBY BELL: 1963-1974.  A nine time Pro Bowler is considered one of the most athletic players of all time.  He was the first Chiefs player elected to Canton in 1983.  One of the best open field tacklers with amazing speed, Bell dominated as a linebacker and as a defensive end.  He returned a kick-off for a touchdown and was considered a great long-snapper for punting.  Hank Stram said Bell could play all 22 positions if we needed him. No. 78 makes a lot of fans top four and deserves the honor.

WILL SHIELDS: 1993-2006. Simply put, 12 straight Pro Bowls, NFL Hall Of Fame induction this August and one of the best offensive guards of all time.  Shields never missed a game and paved the way for Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson and Marcus Allen as well as protecting Elvis Grbac and Trent Green.  Shields is truly deserving of being on the Franchise Four.

DERRICK THOMAS: 1989-1999.  DT is surely missed and was one of the most exciting players to watch in the 1990s.  A nine-time Pro Bowler, No. 56 brought down quarterbacks from behind like no other linebacker.  His seven sacks in a game will probably stand forever.  Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, Derrick Thomas, who died in 2000 from injuries after a vehicle accident, was one of the best ever at rushing the quarterback and will always be remembered in the hearts of Kansas City fans.

There you have it. I am sure there are many arguments for and against my list. Joe Delaney, who gave his life in 1983 trying to rescue three swimming children who were screaming for help in a Monroe, Louisiana pond, Emmitt Thomas, Deron Cherry, E.J. Holub, Ed Budde, Otis Taylor and Charles are all worthy of recognition, but we could only choose four. I’ve limited my list to players only, but one could claim Lamar Hunt and Stram should be included.

Let me know your thoughts. Let the debate begin!

Article by James Peuster.

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