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50 years of Chiefs history in 49 names

Looking back on the last five decades through a list of some of the Chiefs players in each season.

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

A week from this Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers in the team’s first Super Bowl appearance since the 1969 season.

Many fans and media personalities are talking about Chiefs players from the last 50 years they would have liked to see play for a championship. Names like Derrick Thomas, Derrick Johnson, Joe Delaney — and many more — certainly belong in that conversation.

But I thought it would be interesting to highlight a Chiefs player for each season since the team won Super Bowl IV. Each of the players on this list was not on the 1969 roster that won a championship — and aren’t on the current one, either.

I did make one exception, however: Ed Podolak

Podolak was an unheralded rookie on the 1969 roster whose main contribution for the season was to fumble three punts. But in the 1971 Christmas Day playoff game against the Miami Dolphins, Podolak had one of the most memorable games in franchise history, gaining 350 total yards in rushing, receiving and kick returns. He has a ring from 1969 — but to me, he deserves much more than that.

So these players all distinguished themselves as members of the Chiefs. Sometimes it was just for a season or two. Sometimes it was for many years. I’ve tried to list each one in a year when they made a significant impact — but sometimes that wasn’t possible; there are many years where multiple players deserved recognition.

  • 1970 Jack Rudnay
  • 1971 Ed Podolak
  • 1972 Mike Sensibaugh
  • 1973 Marvin Upshaw
  • 1974 Tom Condon
  • 1975 Walter White
  • 1976 MacArthur Lane
  • 1977 Gary Green
  • 1978 Gary Spani
  • 1979 Gary Barbaro
  • 1980 Art Still
  • 1981 Joe Delaney
  • 1982 Henry Marshall
  • 1983 Carlos Carson
  • 1984 Kevin Ross
  • 1985 Nick Lowery
  • 1986 Deron Cherry
  • 1987 Stephone Paige
  • 1988 Albert Lewis
  • 1989 Christian Okoye
  • 1990 John Alt
  • 1991 Derrick Thomas
  • 1992 Neil Smith
  • 1993 Tim Grunhard
  • 1994 Dale Carter
  • 1995 Dan Saleaumua
  • 1996 Marcus Allen
  • 1997 Dave Szott
  • 1998 Will Shields
  • 1999 James Hasty
  • 2000 Tony Gonzalez
  • 2001 Priest Holmes
  • 2002 Eddie Kennison
  • 2003 Trent Green
  • 2004 Willie Roaf
  • 2005 Jared Allen
  • 2006 Larry Johnson
  • 2007 Donnie Edwards
  • 2008 Brian Waters
  • 2009 Dwayne Bowe
  • 2010 Jamaal Charles
  • 2011 Tamba Hali
  • 2012 Eric Berry
  • 2013 Dontari Poe
  • 2014 Justin Houston
  • 2015 Jeremy Maclin
  • 2016 Derrick Johnson
  • 2017 Alex Smith
  • 2018 Mitch Morse

Other players arguably deserved to be on the list, but there just wasn’t room for everyone. Players like Kimble Anders and Tony Richardson — to name just two of many — each made big contributions to the team over a long period of time. But it was just too hard to find a playing year in which there was room for them.

Joe Montana isn’t here, either. But there were so many impactful Chiefs players in the early 1990s it was difficult to find a place for all of them. Besides... Montana already has a fistful of Super Bowl rings.

So this isn’t my own Chiefs Hall of Fame. Instead, it is an effort to create a list of players that can tell the story of the five decades the team has spent without a championship — and now deserve a moment of recognition as the team prepares to win the next one.

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