"It was my senior year,
I just turned eighteen.
I was a Friday night hero,
With Division One dreams.
I had an offer on the table,
A four year ride,
'Til that fourth and two,
And twenty-four dive.
I left on a stretcher,
Wound up on a crutch!
Walked on that next summer,
Wound up getting cut.
I flipped off that coach,
Left that school in the dust
For letting my dreams go bust.
But I thank God I ain't ...
What I almost was ..."
-- "What I Almost Was" by Eric Church.
Well, Pro Football Talk has finally -- finally! -- gotten around to the AFC West franchise Mount Rushmore's. You can click on this handy dandy link to see what the fuss is all about, and vote for who you think should be on the Chiefs Mount Rushmore.
As you might expect, I have my opinion. And as you might expect, I am going to write my opinion below. What you might not expect ... is that two of my franchise faces, are not amongst PFT's voting options.
First, here are the twelve nominees from PFT, and my initial thoughts on each. Listed in alphabetical order:
* Bobby Bell. One of ten officially retired numbers (78), and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Buck Buchanan. One of ten officially retired numbers (86), and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Len Dawson. One of ten officially retired numbers (16), and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Tony Gonzalez. Arguably the greatest tight end to ever play the game. Still an active players with the Atlanta Falcons. I'm guessing 88 will be the next number to be officially retired ... and I'm guessing once again, I'll be mad as holy hell at the one number that hasn't been retired, that should be. And yeah, without question, worthy of consideration ... especially for one magical, amazing day that is Arrowhead at its finest.
* Lamar Hunt. Arguably amongst the three most influential owners in professional football history (along with Wellington Mara, and (ugh) al davis). The first member of the AFL inducted into the Hall of Fame. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Willie Lanier. One of ten officially retired numbers (63), and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Johnny Robinson. One of the best safeties of the 1960s / early 1970s, and a member of the team's Hall of Fame. Probably not worthy of consideration.
* Hank Stram. The most successful coach the AFL had, and a member of the Hall of Fame. I'm torn on this, because be honest -- if Marty wins at Buffalo in the 1993 AFC Title Game, or he beats denver here in the 1997 Divisional round (the de-facto Super Bowl)? Marty goes down as the greatest coach in franchise history. Tough call ... but probably worthy of consideration.
* Will Shields. One of the greatest third round picks ever. A ten year Pro Bowler, and future Hall of Famer (he made the final cut in 2013, but did not gain enshrinement). Worthy of consideration.
* Otis Taylor. One of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history. His lack of inclusion in the Hall of Fame is a criminal outrage. Absolutely worthy of consideration, if only because that scene in "The Replacements" where Martel and his boys jack up Shane Falco and his ride? Is based on what Jack Del Rio did to Otis Taylor's vehicle during the 1987 strike.
* Derrick Thomas. One of ten officially retired numbers (58), and a member of the Hall of Fame. Without question, worthy of consideration.
* Emmitt Thomas. One of ten officially retired numbers (22), and a member of the Hall of Fame. Definitely a worthy inclusion to the discussion for consideration.
Those are the twelve PFT nominated. I would toss four more into the mix they forgot ...
* Marty Schottenheimer. Head coach from 1989-1998. Won 100 games in his ten years here, posting 9 winning seasons, 7 playoff berths, and the first three division championships (1993, 1995, 1997) since 1971. Won the Chiefs first playoff game (1991 wildcard vs raiders) not just since Super Bowl IV, but in Arrowhead Stadium's history. Combined with the next nominee, literally saved the franchise from moving to (pick a relocation / expansion destination from the mid 1990s): Nashville, St. Louis, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Baltimore, (gulp) oakland ...
* Carl Peterson. General Manager (and other titles) from 1989-2008. Quite literally, the single biggest reason I still spend $800 / year on tickets, plus toss in a few hundred bucks more on parking, booze, and food for tailgating. Because if Carl Peterson doesn't agree to take on this dead-end job in December 1988 (and more specifically, if (somehow, someway) the Frank Gansz coached Chiefs don't upset the soon-to-be AFC Champion Bengals that November afternoon Carl checked the franchise out, the Chiefs ain't here anymore.
* Joe Delaney. NFL Rookie of the Year in 1981. Injury and strike plagued season in 1982. Died on June 29, 1983, attempting to save three kids drowning in a swimming hole.
Mr. Delaney did not know how to swim.
Again -- Clark Hunt, Hunt Family, John Dorsey, "Fat" Andy Reid, Mark Donovan, and any and all Chiefs employees and/or related family members to the previously stated individuals who somehow stumble upon this: IT. IS. TIME. Remedy the greatest wrong in franchise history. Officially Retire Number Thirty Seven!
* Priest Holmes. I get that with the passage of time, you forget just how incredible, how freaking unbelievable, Priest's 2001-2003 statistics were. You probably forget he is the leading rusher in franchise history, for example. (He is, by 55 yards over Larry Johnson.) You probably forget that Priest was an afterthought until the second half of a lost season in 2001. From the Chargers game in week eight 2001, through the Bears game to end the 2003 regular season, here are his stats:
* 38 games (out of 40); 38 starts (out of 40).
* 960 attempts, 4,590 yards (4.8 yds / carry).
* 56 rushing touchdowns (set NFL record with 27 in 2003).
* 2001 rushing title.
* 206 receptions, 1,976 yards (9.6 yds / catch).
* 5 receiving touchdowns (including game winners in 2001 at Jags, 2002 at Jets).
The man SINGLE HANDEDLY accounted for 6,566 yards of offense in 2 1/2 seasons! To put this in perspective -- Priest does that SINGLE HANDEDLY. Care to guess how many yards of offense the ENTIRE 2012 Chiefs roster managed to generate?
Priest accounted for 61 touchdowns by himself over 2 1/2 seasons. Care to guess how many touchdowns the entire 2012 Chiefs offense managed to generate?
And again -- that's just Priest by himself! We aren't even accounting for Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Green, Dante Hall, Johnny Morton, (the criminally underrated) Derrick Blaylock, or (dick vermeil voice) "Take the Diapers Off" Larry Johnson in this stretch!
So, let's narrow this down to my Mount Rushmore. I'm gonna do this Pro Football Hall of Fame voting style: narrow it down from (sixteen) to ten ... and then to seven ... and then your winners.
Your first casualties:
* Tony Gonzalez. The easiest cut, to be honest, because he's still playing ... and isn't producing for the Chiefs. Your Mount Rushmore ideally offers the best the franchise has ever had ... from past product.
* Johnny Robinson. The second easiest cut. He's not amongst the four greatest players / coaches / owners / employees in franchise history.
* Emmitt Thomas. Now it starts getting tougher ... but is Emmitt Thomas amongst the four best remaining candidates? Nope. And I say this as someone who not only loves this guy, and is beyond thrilled he was one of only two coaches (along with defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs) that "Fat" Andy Reid kept ... I argued he should have been the interim head coach last year had Romeo been poop-canned.
* Will Shields. This one hurts ... but I ask you this: can you argue Will Shields mattered more than Willie Roaf? Than Tim Grunhard? Neither of whom were nominated for said Chiefs Mount Rushmore (although both have a legitimate argument)?
* Derrick Thomas. Oh God, I can hear the tomatoes and empty beer cans being hurled from here. So again -- can you argue Derrick Thomas was better than Art Still? Than Gary Spani? Than Neil Smith? Than Albert Lewis, Deron Cherry, Lloyd Burruss, Chuck Mincy? (That last one was to make sure you're still paying attention). We're talking the four INDISPUTABLE most important individuals in franchise history here. As much as I love DT ... well, put it this way.
As someone who wore his jersey to every game I came home for (and finally lived here again for) in the late 1990s ... and into the early 2000s in his memory ... as someone who still hauls his jersey out on Alumni Weekend ... as someone whose site has a "58" in it's address in Mr. Thomas' memory?
If I didn't pick Christian Okoye (my favorite Chiefs player of all time) for my Mount Rushmore nominee list?
DT ain't making the damned monument.
* Buddy Bell. It was between him and Buck. Yes, I flipped a coin.
The next three cuts:
* Marty Schottenheimer. Along with ...
* Hank Stram. Look it, if I had to pick a coach, I'd take Hank. But if I'm picking a coach for my Mount Rushmore, you'd better have at least two Lombardi Trophies (or appropriate league's trophy) in the awards cabinet. Hank has two (counting AFL titles); Marty has never even played for one. For those of you who argue "well, Hank has two! Include him!", I respond with this:
You REALLY think the raiders fans are putting Tom Flores on their Mount Rushmore?
* Buck Buchanan. God, the toughest cut of all. I just can't cut any of the other seven remaining ones, over Buck ... although I understand if you say "well, why not "Number 37"?" I understand ... but don't agree.
Your remaining seven candidates for Mount Rushmore enshrinement:
* Founder / Owner Lamar Hunt.
* WR Otis Taylor.
* LB Willie Lanier.
* QB Len Dawson.
* RB Joe Delaney.
* RB Priest Holmes.
* GM / CEO / CFO / "Insert Title Here" Carl Peterson.
Here then, are the four I chose, for my Kansas City Chiefs Mount Rushmore:
* QB Len Dawson. In case anyone doubts why including the one franchise quarterback this franchise has ever had is the right call (even if we didn't draft him), you do realize that the EARLIEST a Chiefs drafted QB can win a game he starts for this franchise, will be Week One ... 2014? And that presumes (and I don't believe this will happen) BOTH Alex Smith and Chase Daniel crap out this upcoming season. No Chiefs drafted QB has won a game for this team since 1987.
* Founder / Owner Lamar Hunt. I'd argue (and be correct) that Wellington Mara was the more important owner to the league's history (he got the owners to sign off on revenue sharing all those years ago) ... but Lamar's a damned close second.
* GM Carl Peterson. If you sat through even one game in the 1980s (other than the stretch run in 1986), you are nodding your head in agreement. If you sat through even one game in the 1990s (at any moment in time), you are nodding your head in agreement. If you sat through any game from 2000-2006, you are nodding your head in agreement. Don't hold the second half of 2007 and virtually all of 2008 against Mr. Peterson. He literally saved this franchise for us, Chiefs fans. It's why you will not read completely critical comments of Mr. Peterson on this site. Pompous ass? Yes. Arrogant prick? Yes. Smug, self-centered egotistical bastard? (sarah palin voice) You betcha! But if I'll tolerate a few of those in my life voluntarily? I'll tolerate Mr. Peterson, if only because fans like "The Voice of Reason" understand, as do I, what this franchise was BEFORE Carl arrived.
* RB Priest Holmes. You all have NO idea how tough it was, to exclude Joe Delaney. No clue. Hell, I cut Buck Buchanan, Hank Stram, Buddy Bell, and even Marty to get Delaney to the Final Seven. Anyone who knows me, or (to give proper credit for the "retire his damned number already!" credit where it's due) "The Voice of Reason"?
We hung exactly one -- and only one -- Christmas ornament above the fireplace every year, the eight Chrismukkah seasons, we were roommates.
That ornament? Was a lovely little bear, adorned in Chiefs gear ... wearing Number 37.
You can laugh if you want -- but a red thumb tack, along with a yellow one, was permanently either (a) in the wall above said fireplace, or (b) on the mantle, the entire eight years, we lived together as roommates. We both get it. Joe Delaney is the finest human being the Chiefs have ever employed.
But look at Priest's stats up above. Put it this way: if denver fans argue (Jesus, this pains me so much to admit ...) correctly, that terrell davis' three year epic reign (1996-1998) deserves Hall of Fame inclusion?
Then denver fans reading this, and Chiefs fans reading this? How does Priest NOT deserve the same consideration?
To say nothing of the fact that my original "Special Little Guy", was named for that man.
(I'll scan in my favorite pic of said original "Special Little Guy", when I get to work tomorrow, where it still hangs proudly on my office wall, here ...)