Kansas City Chiefs: Most Iconic Moments, Little-Known Facts and Groundbreaking History

By: Michael Legg | Last updated: Mar 21, 2024

The Kansas City Chiefs have a storied history filled with iconic moments that have left an indelible mark on the NFL. From their first Super Bowl appearance to their recent successes, the Chiefs have provided fans with unforgettable memories.

Whether it’s the team’s podium moments at Super Bowl LIV or the electric atmosphere of Super Bowl LVIII opening night, the Chiefs have consistently captured the attention of football enthusiasts worldwide. As we delve into the annals of the Kansas City Chiefs’ history, we are presented with a tapestry of triumphs, heart-stopping plays, and the unwavering spirit of a team that has etched its name in the annals of football history.

Initially Named Dallas Texans

The Kansas City Chiefs were initially named the Dallas Texans, but were relocated to Kansas City in 1963. The team was named after the mayor of Kansas City, H. Roe Bartle, who was fundamental in pulling the team to Kansas City.

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Source: www.wfaa.com / Park City Club

The nickname, “Chief”, is in relation to Bartle’s association to the Native American honor society, known as The Tribe of Mic-O-Say, earning him the moniker “The Chief.” While the origin of the team’s name has no affiliation with American Indian culture, the franchise has, at various points in its history, connected a significant portion of its promotional activities and imagery to American Indian culture.

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Participated in 44 playoff games

Given the long tenure of the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL, the Chiefs have a record of 23-21 in their playoff history.

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Source: Instagram / NFL

The Chiefs appeared in the Wild Card round 13 times, winning five of those appearances. They reached the Divisional round 16 times, winning 8 of them. They reached the Conference Championship 9 times, winning six of them. Finally, they appeared in the Super Bowl five times, winning three times.

High Attendance Despite market

Even though the Kansas City Chiefs are the sixth smallest media market within the NFL, the Chiefs have maintained high attendance throughout their games.

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Source: pinterest / Couple in the Kitchen | Recipes for Couples | Couple Travel

Recent studies have shown the Chiefs have the second highest attendance average over the duration of the last decade.

Taylor Swift Pushing Sales

It is no secret that Taylor Swift has made an impact on the Kansas City Chiefs. Her relationship with Travis Kielce created an astounding economic boost.

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Source: Fox Sports News

Swift’s presence even attracted a new demographic to the NFL, with an increased viewership rate among females aged 12-17 during their games.

Super Bowl IV Victory

The first ever Super Bowl victory for the Kansas City Chiefs came during Super Bowl IV, on January 11th, 1970. This game was shocking as the Chiefs were 13.5 point underdogs.

Source: Wikipedia Commons / football card from the 1986 Jeno's Pizza NFL football / Public Domain

This victory was not only significant for Kansas City, but it also showed the American Football League’s ability to compete in the NFL. This was the final Super Bowl prior to the two leagues becoming one.

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Super Bowl LIV

Super Bowl LIV occurred on February 2, 2020, At the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. This matchup featured the infamous San Francisco 49ers. This matchup secured the Chiefs second Super Bowl title, the first in 50 years!

Source: Wikipedia Commons / National Football League

The victory marked a historic moment for the franchise and solidified their status as one of the premier teams in the NFL. The game was watched by over 102 million viewers in the United States and had a significant impact on the sports world.

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Super Bowl LVII

The second Super Bowl championship for the Kansas City Chiefs came on February 12th, 2023. This game was against the Philadelphia Eagles, who they beat 38-35.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / National Football League

This marked the third Super Bowl victory for the Chiefs, further solidifying their place in NFL history. The game was televised by Fox and was the final Super Bowl to be broadcast under the NFL television contract that began in 2014.

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Super Bowl I

The Chiefs did make an appearance at the First World Championship Game, also known as Super Bowl I. This game was played on January 15th, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Super Bowl I: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1967) / Live Broadcast / Youtube

Despite the loss, the Chiefs still made history as they marked the beginning of the annual championship tradition that has since become a cultural phenomenon.

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Super Bowl LV

Another Super Bowl loss for the Kansas City Chiefs came at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game was played on February 7th, 2021.

Source: Chiefs vs. Buccaneers' Super Bowl 2021 / Live Broadcast / Youtube

While the Chiefs lost, it presented an opportunity for them to solidify their status as a dominant force in the NFL. The Chiefs had reached the Super Bowl in four of the past five seasons, and a victory in Super Bowl LV would have further cemented their position as a potential dynasty in the league.

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Infamous 65 Toss Power Trap

While it may seem interesting to hear, but a play actually holds significant importance in Kansas City history. Coined by head coach Hank Stram during Super Bowl IV, this play has become iconic due to Stram’s memorable call and the subsequent touchdown it produced.

Source: facebook / Ghosts of the Orange Bowl

Stram believed the play would pop wide open, and would be an iconic play for the teams first Super Bowl victory on January 11, 1970.

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Drafting Patrick Mahomes

When the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes at number 10 in the 2017 draft, nobody could have guessed that he would become the quarterback he is today. His exceptional talent playing quarterback, including his arm strength, accuracy and playmaking skills makes him arguably the best quarterback in the league.

Source: patrickmahomes / Instagram

The decision to trade up for Patrick Mahomes in the draft changed the trajectory for the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Patrick Mahomes MVP Honors

Mahomes really put the Chiefs on the map, and won two MVP awards, the first in 2018 and the second in 2023.

Source: patrickmahomes / Instagram

His MVP honors underscore his significant impact on the Chiefs and the league as a whole, establishing him as a leader of a new generation of talented young quarterbacks.

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Eric Berry Returns

Eric Berry was a dominant safety for the Chiefs before being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. After undergoing treatment, he was able to make a return to the NFL field.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Jeffrey Beall / CC BY-SA 3.0

His emotional comeback was marked by a significant impact on the game, including a memorable performance in his hometown of Atlanta. This return was one of the most emotional and iconic moments in the history of the entirety of the NFL!

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Chiefs 1991 Playoffs

The 1991 playoffs were an important playoff series for the Kansas City chiefs as it marked the return to the postseason after a 15-year playoff drought. This game was played at Arrowhead Stadium against the Miami Dolphins.

Source: Chiefs / NFL / Live Broadcast / 1991

This playoff game came with a disappointing loss with a score of 17-16. The game was even played in 11 degree weather with a -15 wind chill factor. This game did begin a turning point for the Chiefs as it started a rebuild for their future success. 

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Drafting Derrick Thomas

While the Kansas City Chiefs were successful in the sixties and seventies, the 80’s were a different story. However, life was about to get better after drafting their best pick ever to that date: Derrick Thomas.

Source: Derrick Thomas Chiefs portrait photo / Kansas City Chiefs / Official photo / Derrick Thomas - Hall of Fame / Wikimedia Commons

Thomas would go on to have a Hall of Fame career for the Chiefs, even winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. He also made an impact on the Kansas City community, donating his time and money to many charities. He even started the Derrick Thomas Third and Long Foundation, which aimed to improve literacy rates among middle school-aged students.

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Derrick Thomas Performance 1990

Derrick Thomas may have had an impressive NFL career, he is most known for his performance on November 11th, 1990. While playing against the Seattle Seahawks, he set the single game sack record with an astounding 7 sacks.

Source: youtube / NFL

This impressive single game record happened in his rookie year. The record even stands to this day, providing a testament to his impressive skills as a pass rusher.

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Signing Len Dawson

Len Dawson played a significant role in the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. He led the Chiefs to two separate Super Bowls, and even won one of them.

Source: X / @Delaware_FB

His impact extended beyond his playing career, as he also served as a broadcaster, connecting generations of fans to the Chiefs. Additionally, his legacy and influence on the team have been enduring, with the current chairman of the Chiefs, Clark Hunt, expressing how Dawson was someone he looked up to and considered his first sports hero.

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Hiring Hank Stram

Hank Stram was one of the most important pieces for success in the early years of the Kansas City Chiefs. He is arguably the most important coach in the history of the American Football League. He was also an early pioneer for the integration of pro football, even signing and drafting more black players than most of the other teams at that time.

Source: KC Chiefs Hall Of Fame Coach Hank Stram Check Display D. 2005

Stram’s understanding of the importance of special teams and weight training also contributed to his legacy as a forward-thinking coach.

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1969 AFL Championship

The Kansas City Chiefs were arguably the most successful team during the 1960’s in the American Football League. Despite this, they had only reached the playoffs in three seasons, winning the AFL title twice. The 1969 season was particularly important as it marked the final year of the AFL, and the Chiefs emerged as the only team in AFL history to win three championships.

Source: NFL Archives / Live Broadcast

Additionally, their victory in Super Bowl IV against the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings not only solidified their dominance in the AFL but also leveled the Super Bowl series at two wins each between the AFL and NFL, thus proving the competitiveness and quality of the AFL.

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Andy Reid's Debut

One of the most important turning points for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 21st century was the hiring of Andy Reid in 2013. After coaching for the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years, he brought a plethora of knowledge with him.

Source: U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Zach Sheely/Released / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Reid played a major impact both on and off the field. He was able to revitalize the team, propelling them to numerous playoff appearances and Super Bowl wins. Reid also helped increase the organizational structure of the Chiefs.

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Ron Parker Strip Sack in 2013

One of the most important moments in the new era under Andy Reid came from Ron Parker. Ron was able to sack and take the ball away from Tony Romo in a game against the Dallas Cowboys on September 15th, 2013.

Parker’s forced fumble marked a significant early achievement in his career and contributed to the Chiefs’ defensive performance during that game.

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Guinness World Record in 2014

Another memorable moment for the Kansas City Chiefs came on September 29th, 2014 against the New England Patriots. The Chiefs fans were able to set a Guinness WorldRecord for the loudest stadium during a game. The noise level reached 142.2 decibels, which passed the previous record held by the Seattle Seahawks.

Source: Kansas City Chiefs Fanatics Authentic / The Guinness Book of World Record For Loudest Stadium vs. New England Patriots Sublimated Plaque / Connecticut Post Mall

This achievement marked a significant moment for the Chiefs and their passionate fan base, showcasing the incredible support and enthusiasm at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Chiefs VS Dolphins Longest Game

One of the most memorable games in Kansas City history took place on Christmas Day in 1971 against the Miami Dolphins. The AFC Divisional Playoff game lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds, including two overtimes, and it remains the longest game in league annals.

Source: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The Dolphins emerged victorious with a 27-24 overtime win, with Miami’s Garo Yepremian kicking a 37-yard field goal to secure the victory.

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Trading for Joe Montana

While Joe Montana is mostly known for dominating with the San Francisco 49ers, he also played a pivotal role for the Kansas City Chiefs. The trade involved the Chiefs acquiring Montana, safety Dave Whitmore, and a third-round pick in exchange for their first-round selection in the 1993 NFL Draft.

Source: pinterest / Lori Packard Keras

The trade was a transformative moment for the Chiefs, as Montana’s leadership and experience had a profound impact on the team. His tenure with the Chiefs included seven straight Pro Bowl nods, two league MVPs, and a Super Bowl appearance.

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Cutting Larry Johnson Mid Season

Larry Johnson is yet another prominent running back for the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite this, Scott Pioli waived Johnson in the middle of the 2009 season. This is due to Johnson having a number of holdouts, injuries, and suspensions.

Source: ESPN / Live Broadcast / Youtube

While the move was surprising, it gave the opportunity for Jamaal Charles to break into the starting role. Charles would go on to break Priest Holmes’ rushing record with the Chiefs, and could even end up in the Hall of Fame.

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Signing Marcus Allen

Despite the age Allen was at signing, 33, he was able to make a significant impact on the offense immediately. During his time with the Chiefs, Allen flourished, showcasing his exceptional skills and experience. He contributed to the team’s success and left a lasting legacy as one of the NFL’s all-time greats.

Source: Marcus Allen, Chiefs RB 1993-97 HD / Youtube / NFL / Live Broadcast

The signing of Marcus Allen was a pivotal moment for the Kansas City Chiefs, as it bolstered their roster and provided them with a seasoned and accomplished player who made significant contributions to the team’s success.

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Drafting Tony Gonzalez

The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Tony Gonzalez in the 1997 NFL Draft with the 13th overall pick. Gonzalez went on to have an impressive 17 year career, even earned NFL All-Pro Team honors ten different times. Gonzalez is widely recognized as one of the best tight ends of all time.

Source: 1999 Pacific #194 Tony Gonzalez NFL Football Trading Card / NFL

Gonzalez became an instant force for the offensive side of the ball in his rookie season, finishing with 33 receptions, two touchdowns, and a blocked punt on special teams. The rest of his career with Kansas City led to him leading the Chiefs in receiving eight different times as a tight end. the drafting of Tony Gonzalez significantly enhanced the Chiefs’ roster, providing them with a generational talent at the tight end position and reshaping their offensive dynamics for years to come.

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Signing Priest Holmes

Signing Priest Holmes to the Kansas City Chiefs was arguably just as important as the signing of Joe Montana. Holmes joined the Chiefs in 2001, and would go on to bolster the Chiefs offense efficiency.

Priest Holmes speaks with soldiers Source: Wikimedia Commons / Steve Elliott derivative work: Delaywaves / Public Domain

Holmes’s contributions to the Chiefs as a whole earned him a place in the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

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KC Wolf

Not many people may realize this, but the Kansas City Chiefs have a mascot: K.C. Wolf. The mascot was first introduced in 1989, who was a successor to Warpaint, a horse ridden by a man wearing a full Indian chief headdress, from the mid-1960s.

Source: LinkedIn / Courtney Cole / Marketing Specialist

K. C. Wolf was named after the team’s “Wolfpack,” a group of boisterous fans who sat in temporary bleachers at the old Municipal Stadium. K. C. Wolf is portrayed by Dan Meers, who has been the official mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs since 1989.

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Why are the Chiefs Red and Gold?

The Chiefs have had their dominant colors as red and gold since the relocation to Kansas City. The red and gold colors are iconic and represent the passion, energy, and strength of the Chiefs and their fan base.

Source: Facebook / East Bengal FC / Nike Apparel / Official NFL

These colors are synonymous with their brand, and are featured in the uniforms, merchandise, and other fan-related materials.

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