NOTE: The first installment of this series is a little bit different and more personal than the others will be. Ed Budde is part of the reason I am with Arrowhead Pride today.
The year was 2001. It was around 4:30 am. I was working the graveyard shift at the Phillips 66 on the corner of Blackbob road and 151st street in Olathe, Kansas. I was standing at the counter with my nose buried in a copy of David Landes’ 658-page book “Wealth and Poverty of Nations.”
The bell over the door chimed — and when I looked up, the first thing I saw was a Super Bowl ring on a bratwurst-sized finger. As it turned out, that finger belonged to seven-time Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl offensive guard — and Ring of Honor member — Ed Budde.
Born November 2, 1940, Budde played college football at Michigan State under the tutelage of the great Duffy Daughtery, who was one of the first college coaches to field a racially integrated team.
According to an interview Budde gave to MSUSpartans.com, while recruiting him, Daughtery got Budde to commit to the Spartans by promising that he could live in married housing. By that time, Ed was already married to his high school sweetheart Carolyn. Two years before, she had given birth to future Chiefs guard Brad Budde.
Due to his speed and athleticism, Budde earned the starting job at tackle almost right out of the gate. In 1962, MSU was ranked second in rushing — and Budde earned All-American honors.
Later that same year, he was selected in the first round of both the NFL and AFL drafts. The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles wanted him to play defense, but the AFL’s Chiefs wanted him to stay on offense. Partially because another future Ring of Honor member — tight end Fred Arbanas — was already in Kansas City, Budde chose the Chiefs over the Eagles. A teammate of Budde’s at Michigan State, Arbanas had convinced him that head coach Hank Stram’s brand of football was exciting — and that he would want to play in the AFL.
Flashing forward to that night 2001, Budde gave me a once-over. “Reading that book for school?” he asked.
Unable to take my eyes off the Super Bowl ring, I muttered something like, “No, I just like to read.”
He noticed I was staring at his ring. “Would you like to try it on?” he asked.
“Are you serious?” I stammered.
Sliding the ring off his massive finger, he handed it to me. I placed it on my hand. It was so loose that I probably could have fit two fingers into the dang thing. I moved the ring to my thumb. Still, it just dangled there.
I was spellbound. The weight... the size... the meaning. It was a Super Bowl ring. And it was on my hand.
In Week 7 of the 1968 season, the Oakland Raiders came into Municipal Stadium. They were nipping at the heels of the Chiefs, who stood in first place of the AFL’s Western Division. Going into the game, the Chiefs found themselves without a single healthy wide receiver. So Stram concocted a smash-mouth game plan built around the T formation, which consisted of three running backs, two tight ends and no wide receivers. (Today, we would call this a 32 personnel package).
The strategy worked. On the backs of Budde and the rest of the big boys up front, Kansas City shoved the pigskin down Oakland’s throat, with 60 rushes for over 300 yards in a 24-10 victory.
After the game, Budde’s fellow lineman Dave Hill told him, “It was the best game an offensive lineman can have.”
For his efforts, Budde was awarded AFL Offensive Player of the Week. He was the first interior lineman to ever receive the honor.
But perhaps Budde’s greatest moment was the following year — during Super Bowl IV. In the second quarter, Budde stuck his helmet into the gut of the Minnesota Vikings’ Paul Dickson (wearing no. 76), opening the hole for running back Mike Garrett to rush into the end zone in the famous “65 Toss Power Trap” play that Stram had sent in from the sidelines. The play sealed the Kansas City victory, earning the franchise its first Super Bowl trophy.
At the gas station, I handed his Super Bowl ring back to Budde. “If you could be anything,” he asked me, “what would you be?”
“A writer,” I replied.
“Well, then I better get your autograph. That way, when you’re famous, I can say I met you.”
Wait — what? I thought to myself. Ed Budde wants my autograph?
I took some receipt paper, scrawled my signature across it, and handed it back to him. About that time, his wife Carolyn walked through the door.
He introduced me to her. “This is Rocky,” he said. “He’s going to be a famous writer, so I got his autograph.”
20 years later, the thing that still sticks with me is that I was the one who should have asked for his autograph — not the other way around. But Ed Budde is the sort of guy who makes a random 20-year-old kid feel important.
I’m not famous — but I am a writer.
Thank you, Mr. Budde, for making me feel like my goals were within my reach.