By: Kurtis Seaboldt
There are some iconic numbers in the 60-year history of the Kansas City Chiefs. Ten numbers have been retired by the team, seven of them for players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But, what about the others? Who was the best #7? The best #48? The best #93? Well, I took it upon myself to find out. I applied only one condition. The players are judged only on how they played while wearing that number for the Chiefs (or Texans). Here they are:
Legend: PB (Pro Bowls), AP (All-Pro selections), CHOF (Chiefs Hall of Fame member), HOF (Pro Football Hall of Fame member)
1. Noland Smith (1967-68) “Super Gnat” led the AFL in kickoff return yards in 1967 and ran one back for 106 yards, a Chiefs record that stood until Knile Davis broke it in 2014. Other notables: Bob Grupp, Warren Moon, Lawrence Tynes
2. Dustin Colquitt (2006-current) PB-2. One of the most consistent punters in the NFL for 14 seasons. Other notables: Lin Elliott (I mean, he is “notable”).
3. Jan Stenerud, K (1967-79) PB-6, AP-1. CHOF. HOF. Number retired.
4. Steve Fuller, QB (1979-82) First-round pick started as a rookie. Played 52 games, starting 31.
5. Louis Aguiar, P (1994-98) Popular and reliable punter averaged 42.6 yards per punt. Other notable: Cairo Santos
6. Ryan Succop, K (2009-13) Succop’s five seasons in KC are just good enough to edge Warren McVea, who scored 7 TD’s for the 1969 Chiefs. Other notable: Jim Arnold
7. Harrison Butker (2017-current) If I had done this last year, I’d have gone with Matt Cassel, who’s AFC West title and Pro Bowl nod would have given him the edge. By this time a year from now, there won’t be much doubt that Butker is the pick. Might as well do it now. Other notables: Zenon Andrusyshyn (just for the name), Ron Jaworski
8. Nick Lowery, K (1980-93) PB-4. CHOF. Made 329 field goals for the Chiefs. Other notables: Morten Andersen, Matt Moore (Why not?)
9. Bill Kenney, QB (1979-88) PB-1. The first Chief to pass for 4,000 yards (1983). He started the only playoff game they played from 1972 through 1989. The next highest AV is Jason Baker. Who? Exactly.
10. Tyreek Hill, WR (2016-19) PB-4, AP-2. When I did this six years ago, Trent Green was the easy call. It was close but Hill gets the nod. Other notables: Mike Livingston, Pete Stoyanovich
11. Alex Smith, QB (2013-17) PB-2. Another change from 2014, when Elvis Grbac was the best of an average lot. Smith is now in a class by himself. Other notables: Tony Adams, Damon Huard, Demarcus Robinson
12. Rich Gannon, QB (1995-98) Before winning an MVP with the Raiders, Gannon was 11-8 in 19 games as a Chiefs starter. Other notable: Albert Wilson
13. Steve Bono, QB (1995-96) He wasn’t here long but a 13-win AFC West title in 1995 is more than enough to top De’Anthony Thomas. Even with that Colts playoff game.
14. Ed Podolak, RB (1969-77) CHOF. My brother’s favorite player, Podolak was multi-talented and a fan favorite. His performance against Miami in the 1971 Christmas Day playoff game (349 all-purpose yards) will live forever. Other notables: Todd Blackledge, Sammy Watkins
15. Patrick Mahomes, QB (2017-current) PB-2, AP-1. Mahomes likely moved into first place at halftime of the 2018 Steelers game. Other notables: Kerry Reardon, Mike Mercer
16. Len Dawson, QB (1962-75) PB-6, AP-1. CHOF. HOF. Number retired. The only player to ever wear the number.
17. Steve DeBerg, QB (1988-91) Led the Chiefs to the playoffs in 1990 and 1991, winning the first playoff game ever played at Arrowhead Stadium. Mecole Hardman has a bead on DeBerg and could take this spot in the next few years. Other notables: Elmo Wright, Dave Krieg
18. Emmitt Thomas, CB (1966-78) PB-5, AP-1. CHOF. HOF. Number retired.
19. Joe Montana, QB (1993-94) As the second of four players to wear #19 for the Chiefs, it didn’t take much. Last Chiefs QB to win a playoff game until Alex Smith in January of 2016. Other notables: Cotton Davidson, Jeremy Maclin
20. Deron Cherry, S (1981-91) PB-6, AP-3. CHOF. His 50 interceptions were third-most during the years he played. Other notables: Bobby Hunt
21. Mike Garrett, RB (1966-70) PB-2, AP-1. CHOF. Scored the most famous TD in Chiefs history (65 Toss Power Trap). Other notables: Jerome Woods
22. Marcus Peters, CB (2015-17) PB-2, AP-1. Peters was a lightning rod for controversy but his 19 INTs from 2015-17 were 5 more than anyone else in the NFL. He also forced 5 fumbles and recovered 5, returning one for a TD. Other notables: Ted McKnight, Juan Thornhill
23. Barry Word, RB (1990-92) Rushed for 1,000 yards in 1990 and once held the Chiefs’ record for rushing yards in a game (200). Other notables: Pat Surtain, Kendrick Lewis
24. Gary Green, CB (1977-83) PB-3. Picked off 24 passes for the Chiefs. Other notables: Fred Williamson, Brandon Flowers
25. Jamaal Charles, RB (2008-13) PB-4, AP-2. Holds Chiefs records for rushing yards in a game (259) and career (7,260). Other notables: Frank Pitts, Reggie Tongue, Greg Wesley
26. Gary Barbaro, S (1976-82) PB-3. CHOF. Picked off 10 passes in 1980. His 39 interceptions were the most in the NFL during his career. Other notable: Damien Williams, Frank Jackson
27. Larry Johnson, RB (2004-09) PB-2, AP-1. The only Chief to rush for 1,700 yards in a season and he did it twice with a combined 37 TDs. Other notables: Kareem Hunt
28. Abner Haynes, RB (1960-65) PB-3, AP-2. CHOF. Number retired. It’s unfortunate that he’s most widely known for his coin toss gaffe in the 1962 AFL Championship Game. It was his career rushing TD record that Christian Okoye broke in 1992. He’s the only player to wear the number.
29. Albert Lewis, CB (1983-93) PB-4, AP-2. CHOF. Eric Berry had one more Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod, but Lewis played a more premium position and was an ace on special teams. One of the closes calls on this list.
30. Gloster Richardson, WR (1967-70) Tough call between Richardson and Donnell Bennett, who played seven seasons with the Chiefs. But he has a slightly better AV (18-14). And he carried in “65 Toss Power Trap”. Other notable: Jack Spikes
31. Priest Holmes, RB (2001-07) PB-3, AP-3. Best RB not named Marshall Faulk during his career. Once held the team career record for rushing yards and still does for TD’s (76) Other notables: Kevin Ross
32. Marcus Allen, RB (1993-97) PB-1. Rushed for 44 TD’s as a Chief, 12 in 1993. Tyrann Mathieu will shoot up this list quickly. Other notables: Curtis McClinton (CHOF), Tony Reed
33. Stone Johnson, RB (1963) Number retired. A sprinter on the 1960 USA Olympic team, he fractured a vertebra in a pre-season game against Houston and died ten days later. No player has worn the number since. As Johnson never technically played for the Chiefs, some may object to this selection. I don’t care.
34. Dale Carter, CB (1992-98) PB-4. Picked off 21 passes as a Chief, one less than Lloyd Burruss, who also wore the number. It was a tough call as Burruss played 11 years in KC and is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame but Carter was better.
35. Christian Okoye, RB (1987-92) PB-2, AP-1. CHOF. “The Nigerian Nightmare” led the NFL in rushing in 1989 (1,480 yards). Other notables: Charvarius Ward
36. Mack Lee Hill, RB (1964-65) PB-1. CHOF. Number retired. He injured his knee against Buffalo on December 12, 1965. He died undergoing surgery two days later. The Chiefs’ Rookie of the Year award is named for him.
37. Joe Delaney, RB (1981-82) PB-1. CHOF. Delaney was the AFC Rookie of the Year in 1981. On June 29, 1983, Delaney drowned while attempting to save two boys who went under in a pond in Monroe, Louisiana.
38. Kimble Anders, RB (1991-2000) PB-3. Three times he caught 60 passes in a season. Other notables: Wendell Hayes
39. Brandon Carr, CB (2008-11) Best of an average group. Husain Abdullah is the only other player to wear the number for more than two years.
40. Jim Marsalis, CB (1969-75) PB-2, AP-1. James Hasty was also a two-time Pro Bowler but Marsalis gets a slight nod.
41. Herb Christopher, CB (1979-82) Yep. Reggie Tongue wore the number but for only one year. Other notables: David Whitmore
42. Johnny Robinson, S (1960-71) PB-7, AP-6. CHOF. HOF. Robinson twice picked off ten passes in a season. His Hall of Fame induction finally righted one of the great wrongs. Other notables: MacArthur Lane
43. Billy Jackson, RB (1981-84) Rushed for 1,365 yards and 16 TDs. Other notables: Bill Jones
44. Jerrel Wilson, P (1963-77) PB-3. CHOF. “Thunderfoot” led the AFL/AFC in punting average five times. Other notables: Herman Heard, Eric Warfield
45. Dave Grayson, CB (1961-64) PB-3. Other notables: Robert Holmes
46. Jim Kearney, CB (1967-75) Picked off 23 passes as a Chief, returning five for TD’s.
47. Jon McGraw, S (2007-11) Chris Smith, a 1987 replacement player, is the only Chief to wear the number in multiple seasons.
48. Todd McNair, RB (1989-93, 1996) Caught 186 passes as a Chief, seemingly all of them on third down. Other notables: James Hadnot, Brian Washington
49. Tony Richardson, RB (1995-2005) PB-2. Scored 24 TD’s for the Chiefs. Other notable: Daniel Sorenson
50. Justin Houston, LB (2011-2018) PB-4. AP-1. Houston had 78.5 sacks in eight seasons with the Chiefs, including a franchise-record 22 in 2014. Other notable: Anthony Davis
51. Jim Lynch, LB (1967-77) PB-1. CHOF. Other notables: Greg Manusky, Frank Zombo
52. Thomas Howard, LB (1977-83) Started 83 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Tracy Rogers
53. Marvcus Patton, LB (1999-2002) Started 61 games for the Chiefs. Had Whitney Paul (one of my favorite names) not played three of his seven seasons in #64, he would have gotten the nod.
54. Brian Waters, G (2000-10) PB-6, AP-2. Waters will eventually be a Chiefs Hall of Famer. Other notables: Tracy Simien
55. E.J. Holub, C/LB (1961-70) PB-5, AP-2. CHOF. He earned his honors as a linebacker before moving to center. Started one Super Bowl at each spot. Other notable: Dee Ford
56. Derrick Johnson, LB (2005-17) PB-4, AP-1. Deadbolt lock for the Chiefs Hall of Fame. Other notables: Dino Hackett
57. Chris Martin, LB (1988-92) Started 59 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Jerry Blanton, Mike Maslowski
58. Derrick Thomas, LB (1989-99) PB-9, AP-2. CHOF. HOF. Number retired. Jack Rudnay also wore #58 to the Chiefs Hall of Fame but DT was one of a kind.
59. Gary Spani, LB (1978-86) CHOF. Chiefs’ career leader in tackles just beats out Donnie Edwards for the spot.
60. Matt Herkenhoff, T (1976-85) Started 122 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: George Daney
61. Tim Grunhard (1990-2000) PB-1. No one played in more postseason games for the Chiefs than Grunhard, the anchor of one of the best OLs in the NFL in the 1990s. Curley Culp is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame but most of his individual awards came after the disastrous 1975 trade that sent him to Houston for John Matuszak.
62. Casey Wiegmann, C (2001-07, 2010-11) Started 143 straight games for the Chiefs.
63. Willie Lanier, LB (1967-77) PB-8, AP-3. CHOF. HOF. Number retired. One of the best MLBs in NFL history. Other notables: Bill Maas
64. Curt Merz, DE/G (1962-68) Best of an average group. Played in 92 games for the Chiefs.
65. Tom Condon, G (1974-84) Started 131 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Ryan Lilja
66. Brad Budde, G (1980-86) Started 79 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Ricky Siglar
67. Art Still, DE (1978-87) PB-4. CHOF. Started 148 games for the Chiefs and logged 48.5 sacks.
68. Will Shields, G (1993-2006) PB-12, AP-2. CHOF. HOF. Arguably the best guard in NFL history. That it took him four years to get in the Hall was a joke.
69. Sherrill Headrick, LB (1960-67) PB-4, AP-2. CHOF. I know what you’re thinking. As a Chief, Headrick was better. Most of Jared Allen’s honors have come since he went to Minnesota.
70. Jim Nicholson, T (1974-79) Started 62 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Jim Rourke, Marcus Spears
71. Ed Budde, G (1963-76) PB-7, AP-2. CHOF. Replaces Johnny Robinson as the biggest Hall of Fame slight. Other notable: Mitchell Schwartz
72. Eric Fisher (2013-current) PB-1. Solid starter at the most important spot on the OL. His value was apparent during his eight-game absence in 2019. Other notable: David Lutz
73. Dave Hill, T (1963-74) CHOF. Played 150 games for the Chiefs and started in two Super Bowls. Other notables: Bob Simmons, Joe Valerio
74. Jerry Cornelison, T (1960-65) Started 70 games for the Texans/Chiefs.
75. Jerry Mays, DE (1961-70) PB-7, AP-2. CHOF. Started an AFL Championship Game for the Texans and two Super Bowls for the Chiefs. Other notables: Joe Phillips
76. John Alt, T, (1984-96) PB-2. CHOF. Started 149 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: Mo Moorman, Branden Albert
77. Jim Tyrer, T (1961-73) PB-9, AP-6. CHOF. I’d like to amend my earlier statement (see Ed Budde). THIS is the biggest Hall of Fame slight. The best of a very good group. Other notables: Charlie Getty, Rich Baldinger, Willie Roaf
78. Bobby Bell, LB (1963-74) PB-9, AP-6. CHOF. HOF. Number retired. Maybe the best OLB in history, undoubtedly the most athletic.
79. Dave Szott, G (1990-2000) PB-1. Started 136 games for the Chiefs.
80. Johnny Morton, WR (2002-04) Caught 134 passes for the Chiefs. Twenty-three different players wore #80; Morton was the best. Other notables: Fred Jones, Lake Dawson
81. Tommy Brooker, E/K (1962-66) Best of an average bunch. His overtime FG won the 1962 AFL Championship Game. Good enough for me. Other notables: Marvin Upshaw, Robb Thomas, Kevin Lockett
82. Dwayne Bowe, WR (2007-14) PB-1. Closest call of the bunch. Dante Hall had one more Pro Bowl and one more All-Pro nod but Bowe’s 15 TDs in 2010 and his overall production just edge Hall’s scintillating 2002-04 run.
83. Stephone Paige, WR (1983-91) Caught 377 passes and scored 49 TD’s for the Chiefs. His 307 yards against San Diego was the NFL record for a game. It’s still the record for a non-OT game. Other notables: Kendall Gammon
84. Fred Arbanas, TE (1961-70) PB-5, AP-3. CHOF. Caught 34 TD passes for the Chiefs. Other notables: Willie Davis
85. Jonathan Hayes, TE (1985-93) Played 184 games for the Chiefs, starting 114. Other notables: Chuck Hurston, Marc Boerigter
86. Buck Buchanan, DT (1963-75) PB-8, AP-4. CHOF. HOF. Number retired. Played 182 games for the Chiefs. Other notables: J.T. Smith
87. Travis Kelce, TE (2013-current) PB-5. AP-2. The only TE to have four straight 1,000-yard seasons. He’s bound for the Chiefs Hall of Fame and likely the Hall of Fame. Other notables: Eddie Kennison, Aaron Brown, Tamarick Vanover
88. Tony Gonzalez, TE (1997-2008) PB-10, AP-5. CHOF. HOF. Greatest TE in NFL history. Other notables: Chris Burford, Walter White, Carlos Carson
89. Otis Taylor, WR (1965-75) PB-3, AP-2. CHOF. Game-breaking wideout, his 46-yard score put Super Bowl IV on ice. Should get more Hall of Fame consideration. Other notables: Henry Marshall
90. Neil Smith, DE (1988-96) PB-5, AP-1. CHOF. Credited with 85.5 sacks in nine years as a Chief.
91. Tamba Hali, DE/LB (2006-17) PB-5. Credited with 73.5 sacks in eight years as a Chief.
92. Dontari Poe, DT (2012-16) PB-2. Faded after a promising start but he’s still easily the best of this lot.
93. John Browning, DE (1996-05) It’s hard to believe he played ten years for the Chiefs. Started 96 games.
94. Tyson Jackson, DE (2009-13) This group is so bad that Terrell Suggs is pushing Jackson just off winning a Super Bowl ring. Other notables: Keith Traylor
95. Chris Jones, DT (2016-current) PB-1. If he never plays another down for the Chiefs, he wins this one going away.
96. Jaye Howard, DT (2013-16) Look at the list. You find one better.
97. Dan Saleaumua, DT (1989-96) PB-1. Best ball-hawking DT ever. Played 125 games for the Chiefs and recovered 17 fumbles, just two fewer than Derrick Thomas.
98. Eric Hicks, DE (1998-2006) 44.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Chiefs. He had 14 sacks in 2000. Other notables: Leonard Griffin
99. Mike Bell, DE (1979-85, 87-91) Played 135 games for the Chiefs, logging 40 sacks. Other notables: Wilbur Young, Vaughn Booker