For the first time since 2012, a first-time eligible finalist was not selected for enshrinement, four of the five modern-era enshrinees are on the defensive side of the ball and four of the five were eligible for at least 10 years.
Tackle Tony Boselli, safety LeRoy Butler, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive tackle/end Richard Seymour and defensive tackle Bryant Young are the modern-era enshrinees. Wide receiver Cliff Branch, who was the seniors finalist, former NFL director of officiating Art McNally (contributor finalist) and former Rams, Eagles and Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil were also selected for enshrinement.
The class will be formally honored in early August in Canton, Ohio.
“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization, I would like to congratulate Dick Vermeil on being selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt. “Coach Vermeil led the Chiefs for five seasons on the final stop of his Hall of Fame career. His knowledge, humility, and passion for the game of football reflects the values of our franchise, and Chiefs Kingdom is proud to call him one of our own. We are excited for Dick and Carol and their family, and we look forward to his formal induction in Canton later this year.”
Vermeil was named the ninth head coach in franchise history on January 12, 2001, spending five seasons (2001-05) at the helm of the Chiefs. He compiled a regular season record of 44-36 (.550), making him the fourth-winningest head coach in franchise history. In 2003, Vermeil was named the Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year after leading the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and an AFC West title.
Vermeil’s tenure in Kansas City came after previous stints as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (1976-82) and as head coach of the St. Louis Rams (1997-99). In Philadelphia, Vermeil led the Eagles to the club’s first Super Bowl appearance in 1980, and he was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 1999 when he won Super Bowl XXIV with the Rams.
But the scene of Mahomes’ first meeting with Hunt surely at least reflected the desire of Steinberg and Chris Cabott, the CEO of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment with whom Steinberg co-represents Mahomes, to further engage the Chiefs.
With good reason.
“A marriage made in heaven,” Steinberg said. Especially after all the mirages made, uh, elsewhere over the decades.
And it’s a point that bears reminding amid lingering anguish from the AFC Championship Game collapse against Cincinnati, a wound that will feel to some like it’s festering all the more when the Bengals meet the Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
It’s crushing, yes, for the Chiefs not to be in their third straight Super Bowl, particularly since we know the window of opportunity isn’t infinite. But it’s also true that this rates as what you could call a first-world problem in the context of franchise history.
Simply put, everything about the perception and capacity of the Chiefs has changed since the advent of Mahomes, who in his first full season became the franchise’s first NFL most valuable player winner.
Mahomes offered up a hilarious description of what it’s like to play for Reid.
“He’s super cool,” Mahomes said. “I mean, yeah. It’s almost like your uncle, you know what I mean? He’s like cool, cool, cool, but you like — don’t disappoint him because he’ll get mad at you. But he’s going to give you your freedom to do what you want to do.”
So Reid is the cool uncle as a head coach, I wonder what that makes the rest of the members of the coaching staff? Crosby seemed to understand exactly the type of coach that Reid is.
“You just can’t take advantage,” Crosby said.
“Yeah, exactly,” Mahomes responded.
Afterward, the two spoke about Tennessee Titans HC Mike Vrabel, who coached the AFC at the Pro Bowl.
“I bet (Mike) Vrabel would be an awesome coach,” Mahomes explained.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah,” Crosby agreed.
“He’s like, he was a player so he understands,” Mahomes continued. “But he’s going to make sure you get your s*** done.”
Astute assessments on Mahomes’ part for both Reid and Vrabel.
Clayton Funk made a gutsy call at halftime during the AFC Championship Game last month.
With the Kansas City Chiefs up 21-10, the Missouri-based investment banker and ardent Chiefs fan bought three front-row, end zone seats for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, along with passes to the champions’ pre-party and a three-night stay in a Beverly Hills hotel — a package valued at $52,000.
Then his beloved team lost to a Cincinnati Bengals comeback, courtesy of quarterback Joe Burrow.
“My first inclination was to sell them,” Funk said, admitting his purchase was a little foolhardy after colleagues at a work conference made fun of him the next day.
But after chatting with Cincinnati firm Arcadia Towers, long-time clients with whom Funk had bet barbecue that the Chiefs would win (if the Bengals had lost, Arcadia would have sent Fun Skyline Chili), he was inspired to donate his Super Bowl package — tickets, party and hotel combined — to a local charity.
Around the NFL
The Packers quarterback became just the second player in NFL history to earn four AP NFL Most Valuable Player honors in a career Thursday night at NFL Honors when he was named the 2021 NFL MVP for a second year in a row.
Rodgers took 39 of the votes with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady taking second with 10 tallies. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp received the remaining vote.
“What a year, huh?” Rodgers said Thursday night after accepting the award.
No wide receiver has ever won NFL MVP, but Cooper Kupp couldn’t have had a more valuable season at his position.
The proof is in the productivity — from both him and the Rams.
After claiming the first receiving triple crown in more than a decade, and just the fifth in history, Kupp was voted the 2021 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year on Thursday during NFL Honors. He’s only the third wideout to earn the award.
Kupp tallied 35 of a possible 50 votes with Colts running back Jonathan Taylor finishing runner-up with 10 votes. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (three) and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (two) received votes, as well.
After Evans scored, he tossed the ball into the crowd, not knowing at the time that it would be the last touchdown pass Brady would throw. Evans also had given away the ball Brady threw to complete his 600th touchdown pass earlier in the season.
The Bucs’ staff retrieved the 600 ball and rewarded the fan, but no one from the staff asked for the ball back this time around.
“We stayed for the whole game and I just kind of held it like a baby and we watched them come back and lose,” the seller told ESPN. “We stood around for a while while the players walked off the field, then I tucked it in my jacket and we just walked out like normal. Nobody came up to us or anything.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Hardman acknowledged that the second half was a repeat of the offensive problems the team had struggled to overcome at different points through the regular season — and in the 31-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.
“It comes from defenses changing their schemes up — you know, just giving different looks — [and] figuring things out that give us problems,” he explained. “Tampa Bay kind of thought of that last year in the Super Bowl with the kind of defense they played.
“I think it was the ‘adjustment factor’ of just trying to figure out the different looks all the defenses were throwing at us. So there were definitely times where we couldn’t get anything going. When we started figuring things out? That’s when we started rolling. As you know, we went on an eight-game winning streak. So I feel like that’s when things started rolling in: when we started figuring everything out.”
But despite the offensive shutdown that took place in the last half of the 2021 season’s final game, Hardman believes the Chiefs have learned enough from the past season to get back on track in 2022.
“First, we’ve got to figure out the team — make sure we get the right pieces back,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of guys we need to sign [and] a couple of guys we need to extend and everything. So after that — when we get all the pieces together — just get to training camp and get right. It shouldn’t be too hard, because we’ve got nothing to do that we don’t know how to do. Just take it one game at a time.”