Gridiron Glory: The Legacies of Lamar Hunt and Hank Stram

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Terri had the day off on Monday, so we took some time to do something we've been talking about for a while: visit Gridiron Glory at Kansas City's Union Station. This traveling show from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio - which will be at Union Station through September 7 - features exhibits and memorabilia from the Hall, and is heavily augmented with exhibits centered on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Terri and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there, and found it to be well worth the time - not to mention the $18 ticket. But if money is an object, it's worth noting that many of the Chiefs exhibits can be seen free of charge; tickets aren't taken until you enter the parts of the show that come from the Hall of Fame.

We saw the Chiefs Super Bowl IV trophy, and Lamar Hunt's championship and Hall of Fame rings. We saw film clips of amazing plays in Chiefs history. Noteworthy among these was Noland Smith's 99 yard kickoff return in the Chiefs amazing 66-24 exhibition victory over the NFL's Chicago Bears in 1967. (At first, I didn't recognize "Super Gnat" in the film, because as a rookie who had not yet made the team, he was wearing #46 instead of the familiar #1 jersey he would later wear. Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas are fast, but Smith's speed compared to the players of his era was simply astounding!)

Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas are fast, but Noland Smith's speed compared to the players of his era was simply astounding!

There was also another exhibit of big Chiefs plays where you could put on headphones and listen to the original calls by Kevin Harlan and Bill Grigsby. I admit it: Harlan's call of Joe Montana's TD pass to Willie Davis against Denver on October 17, 1994 (still one of the best birthday presents I ever received) brought tears to my eyes. And Grigsby's call of Otis Taylor's TD reception in Super Bowl IV - the moment we all realized the Chiefs really were going to become World Champions - was amazing.

Much attention is devoted to the formation of the AFL and its eventual merger with the NFL. You can see the piece of airline stationery on which Lamar Hunt sketched out his original vision for the league (the fact that you can barely read the faded notes makes it even more charming) and a film on the subject you can watch while sitting in Arrowhead Stadium seats is simply fascinating.

It is this film that brought up a couple of points I would like to address.

First is the legacy of Lamar Hunt. The film brings up the fact that while NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle largely gets the credit for introducing TV revenue sharing - one of the cornerstones of the league's modern success - it was actually Lamar Hunt who originally introduced this idea with the AFL's television contracts; Rozelle simply recognized this was something the AFL had been doing right all along.

Hunt's revolutionary concept of revenue sharing was right in line with his overall view: what was good for the league was good for his team.

But Hunt's revolutionary concept of revenue sharing was right in line with his overall view: what was good for the league was good for his team. The film makes this point again and again. Kansas City mayor H. Roe Bartle watched the Texans win the 1962 AFL Championship on television and called Hunt out of the blue the very next day, asking if Hunt might consider relocating his franchise. Hunt eventually did so not because he wanted the team to leave Dallas - he had founded the AFL because the NFL wouldn't give him a franchise in his hometown - but because he saw that the AFL needed his franchise to be successful, and it stood a better chance in Kansas City.

The film also relates the story of Hunt's one and only foray into meddling with team operations: the time he traded AFL All-Star quarterback Cotton Davidson to the Raiders for a draft pick. Hunt saw that the Raiders needed Davidson more than the Texans did, so he made the trade without consulting anyone else. (The fact that this draft pick was then used to select Hall of Fame defensive tackle Buck Buchanan - one of the key players on the 1969 World Championship team - was simply icing on the cake!)

Like many others, I am disturbed that the Chiefs are giving up a 2015 home game to play the Lions in London. But we should remember that Clark Hunt is applying one of the lessons his father taught him: what is good for the league is good for his franchise. We can argue about whether the NFL's attempts to popularize American football across the pond make sense, but rightly or wrongly, Clark Hunt thinks it is the right move for the league. So he is making a sacrifice - and setting an example - for the league's benefit. I, for one, am not sure Clark is right. But I cannot argue against following his father's example.

The other point I want to make is about the legacy of Hank Stram. I cannot now remember who said it in the film, but one of those interviewed said that he believed Stram was still the most successful head coach in franchise history. I don't know when the film was made, but I wondered if this was still true.

Well... it is, and it isn't.

One of the things you have to consider is one of the peculiarities of NFL record keeping. Prior to 1972, ties - which were, of course, more common in the days before regular season overtime games - were simply ignored when calculating winning percentages. But beginning in 1972, ties were counted as half a win and half a loss against the whole schedule. So a team (or coach) that had a record of 9-4-1 in 1971 would have a winning percentage of 0.692 - that is, 9 wins divided by 13 non-tie games. But that same record in 1972 would be calculated as 0.679 - 9 1/2 wins divided by 14 total games.

Considering that Stram coached the franchise five years longer than Schottenheimer (and actually won championships) you have to award the tie to Stram.

So when you are comparing Hank Stram's record as the Texans and Chiefs head coach - most of which was before 1972 - to people like Marty Schottenheimer and Dick Vermeil, you have to level the playing field. Using the 1972 standard is more modern and sensible, and using that standard, Schottenhimer's regular season winning percentage of 0.634 tops Stram's 0.614. But as we know, Marty was less successful than Stram in the postseason. When you look at each coach's total W/L record, they're in a dead heat at 0.614. (Well... Marty's number is actually 0.00002698 better than Hank's. But who are we to split hairs?) Considering that Stram coached the franchise five years longer than Schottenheimer (and actually won championships) you have to award the tie to Stram.

But the most surprising thing I found while researching these numbers was something I hadn't realized: Andy Reid already has a regular season winning percentage (0.625) better than The Mentor. Furthermore, if Reid can finish the season at 10-6 - and win two playoff games - his total winning percentage as the Chiefs head coach will eclipse both Hank and Marty's records. A finish of 11-5 - even with a subsequent playoff loss - will still put Reid at the top of the list!

None of this is to say that Reid is a better coach than Stram or Schottenheimer. And until Reid has had a much longer tenure as the Chiefs head coach (and more importantly, has won championships) Hank Stram's legacy as the greatest head coach in franchise history is secure. But since Reid inherited a franchise in shambles, to speak of him - just two seasons later - in the same breath as these Chiefs Hall of Fame coaches should be considered an impressive achievement.

And while this article has been about the glorious past of the Chiefs franchise, it is good to see that there is reason to be excited about where it stands today. Enjoy the ride, my Chiefs brothers and sisters. After much too long, it looks like it could be a good one.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.