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Five unforeseen and irrational fan favorites from Chiefs history

Looking back at five Chiefs who never became NFL stars, but certainly captured the hearts of the team’s fans.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ campaign to run it back in 2020 is in full force. So far, the offseason has consisted of minor free-agent signings and transactions to promote roster continuity. This — combined with the absence of any live sports — make it a great time to embrace nostalgia.

I went through the modern history of the Chiefs to find players that you won’t find in the team’s Ring of Honor or even a Pro Bowl — but had moments that gave fans reasons to always remember them.

Tyler Thigpen

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I can’t lie. The motivation to write this article was to confess my irrational fandom for former Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen.

I was 10 years old when the 24-year-old third-string quarterback was thrown into the fire in 2008. During the first half of the season, he had periodically filled in while Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard had been injured. But starting in Week 8, Thigpen became the starter. He may have only won one of his 11 starts with the Chiefs — but there were some fun memories.

My favorite was in the Week 8 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the second quarter, a trick play sent Thigpen streaking down the field. Wide open, he caught a beautifully thrown ball from wide receiver Mark Bradley for a 37-yard touchdown that put the Chiefs up 21-3.

To my knowledge, he is still the only Chiefs quarterback to throw and catch a touchdown in the same game. But in 2008 Chiefs fashion, the team squandered a 21-point first-half lead and ultimately lost the game 30-27.

His best stat line came in Week 16 against the 9-5 Miami Dolphins. The freezing temperatures didn’t stop him from putting up 377 total yards and three touchdowns — including one rushing. Of course, the Chiefs lost the shootout 38-31 — and I’ll choose to ignore Thigpen’s three interceptions.

Maybe 10-year old me was just excited to finally have a quarterback I could run with in Madden, but Thigpen will always have a place in my Chiefs fandom. He made that 2-14 2008 season as exciting as he could.

Boomer Grigsby

Kansas City Chiefs v.St. Louis Rams

Former Chiefs linebacker and fullback James “Boomer” Grigsby’s journey to professional football is a story worth telling. After his senior year of high school, Grigsby was not recruited for college football at all — that is, until he caught the eye of an Illinois State coach while weightlifting at his school.

That led to Grigsby becoming one of the most prolific defensive players in Division 1-AA during his college career, with three seasons as an All-American. He was named a finalist for the national Defensive Player of the Year award three times — and was the Gateway Football Conference Player of the Year in all three of those seasons.

The Chiefs picked him in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He was instantly one of the team’s best special teams players — and his underdog story immediately made him popular among Chiefs fans. Realizing it was likely he wouldn’t see the field on defense, he successfully transitioned to fullback during the 2007 offseason — as documented on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

Unfortunately, his career as the team’s fullback lasted only one season. The team let him walk after 2007.

Mike Maslowski

Jaguars v Chiefs Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Another great special teams player who will bring back some memories — former Chiefs linebacker Mike Maslowski made it very easy for fans to root for him.

After a decorated career as a Division III linebacker (and a season in the Arena Football League), the Chiefs signed him in 1999, immediately designating him to play in NFL Europe. He earned the league’s Defensive Player of the Year during his one season overseas when he set the league’s single-season record for tackles.

Maslowski’s performance earned him a spot with the Chiefs in 1999 — and he played well enough to earn the Mack Lee Hill award for the team’s rookie of the year. After a few more seasons with limited defensive snaps, Maslowski was given a starting role on the defense in 2002. That season, he set the Chiefs’ single-season tackle record with 162. While former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson has since surpassed that mark, it still stands as the second-most in franchise history.

What made Maslowski easy to root for was his persistence through serious knee injuries that plagued him throughout his short career. After the 2003 season, he underwent a surgical procedure from which no professional football player had ever attempted to recover. He tried to make it work in the training camps of 2004 and 2005 — but unable to recover fully, he ultimately decided to retire.

Jason Dunn

Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs

We all remember tight end Tony Gonzalez — but his long-time partner at that position deserves some recognition here. Tight end Jason Dunn spent eight seasons in Kansas City — coming to the Chiefs at a perfect time to utilize his strength as a run blocker.

Dunn could be considered the sixth member of that dominant offensive line in the early 2000s. He was there for the entirety of running back Priest Holmes’ run — and the peak of running back Larry Johnson’s career. He may have been best-known for his part in Johnson’s signature touchdown celebration; Johnson would jump into Dunn’s arms and Dunn would hold him up after every score.

He won’t be remembered for his receiving ability, but Dunn did see a bigger role in the passing game in 2004 when he caught 17 passes for 120 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

Marc Boerigter

Marc Boerigter #85 Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Sometimes, all it takes is one play. That’s what it took for former Chiefs wide receiver Marc Boerigter to be remembered fondly in Kansas City.

Boerigter excelled at Hastings College, an NAIA school in his hometown of Hastings, Nebraska. His play there led him to an opportunity in the Canadian Football League — which eventually gave him a path to enter the NFL with Kansas City in 2002. That season, he scored eight touchdowns on only 20 catches — including his most memorable play.

Boerigter hauled in this 99-yard touchdown reception in Week 16. The play still stands as the longest reception in Chiefs history — one of only 13 99-yard receptions in NFL history. Out of all Chiefs players with 30 or more catches, Boerigter’s career mark of 17.9 yards per reception is the fifth-most in franchise history.

Who is your unforeseen and irrational favorite Chief? Weigh in below.

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