AFC West: Jan Stenerud

When he announced he was announcing the release of Peyton Manning on Wednesday, Colts owner Jim Irsay said no one else will wear No. 18 for the Colts.

Thus, the Colts are the third team in the NFL to retire that number. The other two you ask?

Denver and Kansas City. Yep, the two teams in the AFC West that are in the hunt for Manning do not have his number available.

In Denver, the number belongs to Frank Tripucka. He played quarterback for the team from 1960-63 and the team’s ownership in that era honored him. In Kansas City, the number belongs to defensive back Emmitt Thomas. It was retired four years ago. Thomas is on the Chiefs’ coaching staff.

There has been talk that Manning could wear No. 16 on his next NFL uniform. He wore that number in college. It would be available in Denver (no, the Broncos didn’t retire Jake Plummer’s digits). No. 16 wouldn’t work in Kansas City. Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson wore the number and that number is retired, too.

Of course, that didn’t get in Joe Montana’s way in Kansas City. He wore No. 16 in San Francisco and he wore No. 19 in Kansas City. Like Manning, Montana’s college number (3) was also retired in Kansas City. It belongs to kicker Jan Stenerud. However, Montana’s No. 19 is still up for grabs in Kansas City, so perhaps Manning would follow in Montana’s footsteps.

Best Chiefs Team Ever: 1969

June, 25, 2010
6/25/10
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Notable players: QB Len Dawson, RB Mike Garrett, WR Otis Taylor, G Ed Budde, DT Buck Buchanan, DT Curley Culp, LB Bobby Bell, LB Willie Lanier, CB Emmitt Thomas, K Jan Stenerud.

[+] EnlargeEmmitt Thomas
Rod Hanna/US PresswireCornerback Emmitt Thomas was a reason why Kansas City's defense was so dominant.
Analysis: The 1969 Kansas City Chiefs were a veteran outfit that played together for quite while. Three years earlier, the same group lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.

But it all came together in 1969. The Chiefs were stacked with future Pro Football Hall of Fame players Dawson, Bell, Buchanan, Lanier, Thomas and Stenerud, and led by legendary coach Hank Stram. Stram was known for his innovative coaching, big personality, snappy clothes and an absolute love for his players.

The team’s road to the Super Bowl was not easy. They ended the season with an 11-3 record and finished a game behind the Oakland Raiders in the AFL’s Western Division. Kansas City had to beat the Jets and Raiders on the road in the playoffs before they had a chance to upset Minnesota in the Super Bowl.

But Kansas City’s defense buried teams all season. Even though Dawson missed six games because of an injury, the defense kept the Chiefs on the Super Bowl highway. During the playoffs, they limited the Jets and Raiders to a combined 13 points. Minnesota’s high-powered offense managed a meager seven points during Super Bowl IV.

“Our defense was special," Stenerud said. “I remember that playoff run and we just didn’t give anything up. We held down some really good offenses. That defense was really the difference-maker for that team.”

Most impressive win: The 23-7 win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. The Chiefs dominated the Vikings, who were a 13-point favorite.

Send them home unpacking: The Oakland Raiders’ players were so sure they’d dispatch the Chiefs in the AFL Championship Game that they packed their bags to head to the Super Bowl after the game.

The Raiders had reason to be confident. They had won the West with a 12-2 record and beaten the Chiefs in two regular-season matchups. But Stram's team took the game that mattered. Kansas City went into Oakland and stunned the Raiders 17-7, sending the Chiefs (and not the bags-packed Raiders) to New Orleans.

“As the Chiefs were waiting for the team buses, they saw all the Oakland players leave the stadium with their bags in their hands, going home instead of the Super Bowl,” Kansas City team historian Bob Moore said. “The Chiefs players were all laughing at Oakland’s players.”

Honorable mention:

1966: The AFL’s first Super Bowl team. This quality outfit finished 11-2-1 and beat the Bills for the AFC title.

1971: Many of the old Chiefs believe this, and not the Super Bowl-winning team, is the best team in Chiefs history. But they just couldn’t get it done like the 1969 team.

1995: This was a solid team led by the NFL's top-ranked defense, but the Chiefs stumbled in the playoffs.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The kicking specialist is getting some love on the NFL Blog Network Tuesday.

After the recent Pro Football Hall Of Fame voting, there remains just one player who was strictly a kicker among the inductees. We're appreciating some of the best kickers and punters in the history of AFC West teams. (That Hall Of Fame kicker, by the way, is from this division.) We are highlighting one kicking specialist per team.

 
  Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
  Jason Elam shares the NFL record for the longest field goal in history.

Denver: Jason Elam, kicker

The skinny: It was a shock to see Elam leave Denver for Atlanta through free agency last season. He was an institution in the Rocky Mountains and he is still effective after 16 NFL seasons. Even though Elam is no longer a Bronco, he is part for the team's lore. He shares the NFL record for the longest field goal in history (63 yards). He was cold-blooded with the game on the line. In his final season in Denver, Elam won four of the team's seven games in the final seconds.

Kansas City: Jan Stenerud, kicker

The skinny: Stenerud is the only kicking specialist in the Hall of Fame. He spent the first 13 of his 19-season NFL career with the Chiefs. He was a key member of the team's Super Bowl winning team. An excellent athlete, the Norwegian Stenerud was known for both his accuracy and strong leg. He's a kicking pioneer and he may be lonely in the Hall of Fame for a while.

Oakland: Ray Guy, punter

The skinny: He is one of the main reasons why the kicking and punting Hall of Fame was formed. It may be the last Hall of Fame Guy ever gets voted into. He has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the past, but his candidacy has stalled some. Many consider Guy the best punter of all time.

San Diego: Mike Scifres, punter

The skinny: The Chargers' current punter is vastly underrated. The Chargers think he is one of the best punters to play in the NFL in several years. He is very accurate and he put himself in the spotlight last month. A master of placing the ball inside opponents' 20-yard line, Scifres pinned all six of his punts against the Colts inside the 20-yard line in the Chargers' win in the wild-card game. It was the first time in the history of the postseason that had happened. Many in the San Diego organization said Scifres' effort was the key to the win.

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