NFL Nation: Curley Culp

Cris CarterAndrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsCris Carter is fourth on the all-time reception list with 1,101 catches.
CANTON, Ohio -- Cris Carter’s emotional football journey started in Ohio about four decades ago and ended in Ohio on Saturday night.

Carter, 47, grew up in Troy, which is three hours away from Canton, home of the Hall of Fame, where Carter was honored this weekend. He also starred at Ohio State in Columbus before his stellar 16-year NFL career.

On Saturday, Carter -- emotional and reflective -- came full circle, returning to the Buckeye State as a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. He didn’t prepare notes for his speech. Carter spoke strictly from the heart in front of many of his fellow Ohioans and football peers.

“We have the greatest Hall of all the Halls,” Carter said emphatically. “And to be able to join these men, on this stage, in football heaven is the greatest day of my life.”

Carter’s journey wasn’t easy. He signed with an agent and lost his eligibility his senior year at Ohio State. Carter said his only football-related regret was leaving school early and being forced to enter the supplemental draft.

“To all the Buckeye fans, from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely apologize,” Carter said.

Carter also battled drug and alcohol problems that nearly derailed his career. Carter described Sept. 19, 1990, as a landmark date in his life. That’s when he was asked in rehab to change his life. He’s been clean ever since.

On the field, Carter’s first NFL catch was a touchdown reception in 1987 against the St. Louis Rams. He had just five catches his rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles, which included two touchdowns. Former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan later coined the famous phrase that “All he does is catch touchdown passes.” That stuck with Carter the rest of his career. He finished with 131 career touchdowns, which ranks eighth all time.

In Minnesota, Carter’s career flourished. That’s where he made eight straight Pro Bowls, had two seasons of 122 receptions, and five straight seasons of double-digit touchdowns. It’s also where Carter got his life together.

Carter also can make a strong case for having the best hands in NFL history. His highlight tape displays some of the most difficult and spectacular catches ever seen. Those strong hands made Carter fourth on the all-time reception list with 1,101.

“When he came in from Philadelphia, we knew he was a great ballplayer and we knew he could play,” former Vikings teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Chris Doleman said. “We wanted to just give him a clean slate to work from and let him do what he do. He’s never done anything but honored the Vikings and the Vikings colors.”

Consider Carter’s enshrinement speech, which was about 16 minutes long, one final touchdown reception. He was the final speaker in the 2013 Hall of Fame class, and Carter had several tough acts to follow. Jonathan Ogden and Curley Culp were classy. Dave Robinson and Larry Allen were funny. Bill Parcells and Warren Sapp, as expected, were straight shooters.

But Carter was able to put a bow on this entire Hall of Fame. He began by playing to the hometown crowd with a chant of “O-H-I-O.” Then he got more personal.

Carter’s son, Duron, introduced him. Carter also made sure to thank his mother, Joyce, and asked her to stand up in front of a national audience.

“Mama, I got to tell you, I didn’t have to wait to get a call from the Hall for them to tell me I was a Hall of Famer -- you’ve been telling me that since I was little,” Carter said. “You told me everything that’s ever happened in my life that’s happened. But Mom, I got to tell you. I have to apologize. I’m so sorry for the bumpy flight and the bumpy ride.

“But I got to tell you, Mama, it’s a smooth landing.”

Carter’s résumé is still growing. He is the author of a new book and an insightful NFL analyst at ESPN.

After five years as a finalist who came up just short, Carter can add one more deserving label on a historic night in Canton: Hall of Famer.

“Buckeye born and bred,” Carter said in conclusion. “Now an H-O-F-er -- even after I’m dead.”

CANTON, Ohio -- Bill Parcells' day at the Hall of Fame got off to an unexpected start.

Former pupil Bill Belichick made the trip to Canton to support his mentor, despite their frosty relationship in recent years. The two even shared a somewhat awkward embrace. It was that kind of historic day in Canton to mend fences.

Parcells wasn’t the easiest coach to play for or -- as Belichick would attest -- coach under. But Parcells was one of the all-time great coaches and talent evaluators. That rare combination led Parcells to become the only coach inducted in the 2013 Hall of Fame class.

“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups,” Parcells said, echoing a quote from Hall of Fame safety Emlen Tunnell. “But winners assemble as a team, and tonight I get to do just that."

Parcells was known for turning franchises around. He led the New York Giants and New England Patriots to Super Bowl appearances. Parcells also led the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins (as president) to winning seasons. He spent much of his time explaining his dynamics of building a team with accountability, and also thanked many of the people who helped him become successful.

But an underrated part of Parcells’ legacy is his talented coaching tree. Three Super Bowl-winning coaches (Belichick, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin) learned how to coach under Parcells. Coughlin and Belichick, in particular, were both in attendance and will someday join Parcells in the Hall of Fame.

Parcells did things his way, and most of the time he was right. The results speak for themselves.
CANTON, Ohio -- It has been a banner 2013 for the Baltimore Ravens.

First, the Ravens won their second Super Bowl in franchise history in February. Then, future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis retired as a champion at the top of the NFL ladder.

Ogden
Ogden
On Saturday, Baltimore’s landmark calendar year continued as former left tackle Jonathan Ogden became the first homegrown Raven to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only was Ogden a first-round pick, but he was the Ravens’ first pick in franchise history in 1996.

Ogden helped lift the Ravens to where they are today. He put a bow on his 12-year football career Saturday by also becoming the first player enshrined of the 2013 class.

“I just really want to thank the fans and the city of Baltimore,” Ogden said Saturday. “When I came to the Ravens in 1996, we had no team, we had no history. We didn’t even have team colors. We just had a name. … The Ravens were new to everybody.”

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome introduced Ogden. According to Newsome, who is one of the NFL's top talent evaluators, Ogden played left tackle as good or better than player in history. Newsome said the keys were Ogden’s immense size and the feet of a defensive back.

Ogden reached 11 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons and won a Super Bowl. He was drafted in the first round in 1996 along with Lewis, who was in attendance and will surely follow Ogden to Canton in five years.

Odgen began his speech Saturday with a joke. He mentioned how former running back and draft bust Lawrence Phillips was also being considered by the Ravens with their first ever pick.

As Ogden mentioned, Baltimore made the right choice and the rest was NFL history.
CANTON, Ohio -- The NFL's 2013 Hall of Fame enshrinement is about one hour away. It appears the weather will cooperate for this year’s speeches, which is set for 7 p.m. ET.

The temperature in Canton is in the mid-70s with clear skies. That will cool off some during the night, but there doesn’t appear to be much chance for rain. Occasionally, Hall of Fame weather can be unpredictable with this outdoor venue.

The crowd is filling in at Fawcett Stadium to hear the speeches of Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Larry Allen, Bill Parcells, Curley Culp, Warren Sapp and Cris Carter. Don't forget to join me at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.com for a live chat from Canton.
CANTON, Ohio -- The 2013 Hall of Fame is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET Saturday. It should be a nostalgic and emotional night as the NFL celebrates another deep and talented Hall of Fame class.

Here is the order of tonight’s enshrinement speeches:
  • Jonathan Ogden
  • Dave Robinson
  • Larry Allen
  • Bill Parcells
  • Curley Culp
  • Warren Sapp
  • Cris Carter

Enjoy the speeches, and remember to join ESPN.com at 7 p.m. ET for our live Hall of Fame chat during the enshrinement.
Curley Culp knows he’s an NFL name of the past.

He knows there are a couple of generations of NFL fans who might not know who he is. But it doesn’t matter, because on Saturday Culp will officially become an NFL immortal when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Culp was a Senior Committee nominee.

Culp played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1968-74. He went on to play seven seasons in Houston and two more in Detroit, but he became known as a dominant interior defensive lineman while with the Chiefs.

Culp, who won the NCAA heavyweight wrestling title while at Arizona State, was a unique player. In the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV win against Minnesota, Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram put Culp over the center, which opened up plays for future Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan and Willie Lanier. Many people credit it for the beginning of the 3-4 defense.

At 67, Culp is a member of the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame, and he has close ties with the organization.

While the spotlight Saturday will be on NFL household names such as Warren Sapp, Cris Carter and Bill Parcells, Culp, who runs a car service in Austin, Texas, knows he will be a blast from the past when his son Chad presents him into the Canton, Ohio, museum.

“To me, it seems just yesterday,” Culp said in a July phone interview. “But it’s been four decades. That’s a long time. I’m just very grateful to get this honor. It crosses my mind at least once or twice a day. I realize what an honor it is, and it’s very exciting to know that it is finally coming.”
To review: J.J. Watt’s defensive player of the year season in 2012 included 107 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 39 tackles for loss, 42 quarterback hits, 16 batted passes, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

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Is it possible for Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt to have a better year than he did in 2012?

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“It was the best I’ve ever seen, the best I’ve ever been around,” Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips recently reiterated.

Watt is the biggest sports star Houston has seen in some time and I don’t think he’ll let up for a second in preparing for his third year, even as he allows himself to enjoy his celebrity.

Still, one has to wonder: Can he match that enormous season or is a statistical drop-off almost inevitable?

The Titans drafted right guard Chance Warmack in part because they think he will be able to slow Watt down. The Colts also emphasized their interior offensive line in the draft. Those moves will hardly make Watt scared. They simply serve to help illustrate how big of a concern he is.

[+] EnlargeJJ Watt
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsJ.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks and 16 batted passes in 2012.
“We started seeing it toward the last of the year, they started hollering in the field, ‘Don’t let him get to the quarterback,’ that sort of thing,” Phillips said. “Teams were even drafting for him, it sounded like.

“He’s going to draw a lot of attention, but as long as you have other guys who can rush, it’s hard. We put him in some situations where he’s one-on-one and we also move him around quite a bit. We think those things will help.

“There will be more attention on him, there will be more trying to see where he is and trying to help. But I think they tried to do that last year quite a bit. He’s a great player. He’s going to do well no matter what.”

But can he match those stats?

“I don’t know if you can have a better year than last year. He had a tremendous year,” Phillips said. “I’ve never been around a defensive linemen that made that many plays. And I had Reggie White, I had Bruce Smith, I had Elvin Bethea who’s in the Hall of Fame, Curly Culp who’s fixing to go in the Hall of Fame. Nobody’s had a year like that kid had last year.

“You just don’t make that many plays. It was a phenomenal year. I don’t know if he can have a better year than that. He’s working towards it, I know that. He’s first in every drill we do, he wins every wind sprint that they run out there, he’s a leader. The sky’s the limit for that guy.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame senior inductee Curley Culp started off with Kansas City, but he made a huge impact with the Houston Oilers, too.

Culp
The six-time Pro Bowler was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1975 after helping lead Houston to its first winning season in eight years.

He will be inducted into the Hall in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3, along with six others -- offensive lineman Larry Allen, wide receiver Cris Carter, tackle Jonathan Ogden, coach Bill Parcells, linebacker Dave Robinson, and defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Robinson was the other senior nominee.

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News presented Culp at the selection meeting, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle also led the discussion of Culp’s candidacy.

McClain spoke to Culp leading up to selection day.

“I’m anticipating a great outcome,” said Culp, who resides in Austin. “I’m blessed to be in this position. I was part of a Super Bowl winner with the Chiefs, and those Luv Ya Blue teams were special.

“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, probably pulling weeds and raking the yard.”

Said McClain this week in New Orleans: “Curley was the epitome of a 3-4 nose tackle. Strong, quick, nasty -- an NCAA wrestling champion who could get leverage and keep it.”

“The Oilers traded (defensive tackle) John Matuszak to Chiefs in 1974 for Culp and No. 1 pick they used on outside linebacker Robert Brazile. It was a tremendous trade. Along with Hall of Fame defensive end Elvin Bethea, they were the cornerstones of the Luv Ya Blue defense.”

Culp is the ninth member of the Oilers/Tennessee Titans to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The capsule on Culp from the Hall:
Defensive Tackle … 6-2, 265 … Arizona State … 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-1980 Houston Oilers, 1980-81 Detroit Lions … 14 seasons, 179 games … Selected in 2nd round (31st player overall) in 1968 draft by Denver Broncos … Denver attempted to switch him to offense before trading him to Chiefs during training camp … Fit in perfectly with Chiefs’ dominating defense … Member of team’s Super Bowl IV championship team in second season … Started at left defensive tackle in Super Bowl win over Vikings and registered three tackles, one assisted tackle … Dealt to Houston Oilers in blockbuster trade during 1974 season … Key veteran leader with 11.5 sacks to help Oilers to 10-4-0 record in his first full season with club … Winning record in ’75 was Oilers first winning season in eight years and just second in 13 seasons …. Named NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by Newspaper Enterprise Association, 1975 … Culp led defense that helped Oilers earn back-to-back appearances in AFC championship game, 1978-79 … Named All-Pro, 1975 … All-Pro Second Team 1971, 1977, 1978, and 1979 …. First- or second-team All-AFC five times … Elected to six Pro Bowls … Born March 10, 1946 in Yuma, Arizona.

No AFC West Hall of Fame shockers

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There weren’t any AFC West surprises Saturday when the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced.

Curley Culp and Warne Sapp were the favorites of the four finalists with AFC West ties, and they ended up in the Hall of Fame class. Former Oakland receiver Tim Brown and former Kansas City guard Will Shields -- the two high-profile players with AFC West ties of this year’s finalists -- did not get into the final 10. They were both considered longshots this year.

Culp, a senior committee nominee, played his first seven of a 16-year career in Kansas City. Sapp played his final four seasons in Oakland. Sapp did little with the Raiders, and he will always be remembered as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Culp does have legitimate AFC West ties. He was a key part of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV winning team. He was a nose tackle and considered the first real 3-4 nose tackle. Culp is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and he participates in alumni programs. His election Saturday will be embraced and celebrated in Kansas City.

“On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, we’d like to congratulate Curley Culp on his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Curley was a dominating force on the defensive line for the Super Bowl IV championship team and one of many great players that helped build the tradition and foundation of the Kansas City Chiefs … “We look forward to seeing him take his rightful place in Canton.”

Saturday’s developments are disappointing for Brown and Shields. But there are silver linings for both. Cris Carter finally gained election, so the receiver logjam lessened. I still think Andre Reed might get in before Brown.

I know there has been some chatter that Brown’s recent comments that former Oakland coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers 10 years ago might have hurt his chances. Brown was considered a longshot prior to causing that firestorm.

Shields was likely blocked by first-year nominee Larry Allen, who gained election. With Allen in, I can see Shields getting elected in the next couple of years.
As you might have heard, three of the four Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists with NFC North ties were elected Saturday to the class of 2013. Minnesota Vikings receiver Cris Carter, along with senior nominees Dave Robinson (Green Bay Packers) and Curley Culp (Detroit Lions) are all among the seven-man class.

I'll have more on the blog as the evening continues. I think we all know it has been a matter of when, not if, Carter would be enshrined. In his career, he caught 1,101 passes for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the only other player in NFL history with those totals is Jerry Rice.

Meanwhile, Hall voters have made a habit of electing senior nominees, as we discussed this week. Over the past 20 years, 25 of 30 senior nominees have made it. We figured that would bode well for Robinson and Culp.

More in a bit.
Saturday is an important day in the AFC West.

Major 2012 season individual awards will be given and the 2013 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be announced.

Peterson
Manning
One of the key events will be the announcement of the NFL MVP award. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson are the primary candidates for the award. They are also the top candidates for the Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards.

The Manning-Peterson debate has raged on for the past few months. Manning led Denver to a 13-3 record after sitting out the 2011 season because of a neck injury that required four surgeries. Peterson finished nine yards short of setting the NFL single-season rushing record -- after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the 2011 season.

Peterson has been stumping hard for the MVP award, while Manning has been quiet in his campaign. Manning has an NFL-record four MVP awards. Manning and Peterson should both go home with some hardware Saturday.

Denver linebacker Von Miller, meanwhile, is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. However, Houston’s J.J. Watt is considered the favorite.

Earlier Saturday, the Hall of Fame class will be announced. Four of the 17 finalists have AFC West ties: former Kansas City defensive tackle Curley Culp, former Raiders receiver Tim Brown, former Kansas City guard Will Shields and defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who ended his career in Oakland. Sapp and Culp are considered the favorites of those four to gain entry to the Hall of Fame this season.

Please check back Saturday for news and analysis on all of the developments pertaining to the AFC West.

Hall of Fame: More NFC North love?

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee has included a player with NFC North ties in every class dating back to the inception of this blog.

We had Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel in 2009. In 2010, Vikings defensive lineman John Randle and Detroit Lions defensive back Dick LeBeau were enshrined. Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent was elected in 2011 and Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman got in last year.

Will the streak continue in 2013?

As we noted earlier this month, four of the 15 finalists have ties to one of our teams. Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter and current Green Bay Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene find themselves in familiar situations. Carter, as we discussed in detail last year, remains ensconced in a three-way logjam of receivers along with Tim Brown and Andre Reed. Greene, meanwhile, still has more career sacks (160) than any player not in the Hall of Fame. (My thoughts on Greene from last year's exclusion.) A newly eligible pass-rusher is on this year's ballot; Michael Strahan had 141.5 sacks in his career.

My AFC West colleague Bill Williamson spoke with defensive lineman Curley Culp earlier this week; Culp played his final two seasons with the Lions in 1980 and '81. So that leaves us to discuss former Packers linebacker Dave Robinson.

Like Culp, Robinson was nominated by the Hall's senior committee, and that status alone gives him a pretty decent chance to win election. The class' five-man limit doesn't include senior nominees, so they don't get caught in a numbers game. Over the past 19 years, 82 percent of senior nominees have been elected (23 of 28). The success rate remained high even after the Hall began allowing two senior nominees per year in 2004. Since then, all but four of the 18 nominees have been elected.

The procedure allows voters to correct perceived wrongs from previous generations, and Robinson is generally considered one of the best defensive players from his era. He was the Packers' first-round draft choice in 1963, started in three consecutive NFL championship victories, intercepted 27 passes in 12 seasons and was named to the league's all-decade team for the 1960's.

Voters will gather early Saturday morning, and the nominees will be announced during an NFL Network broadcast scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. ET. I'll be here to blog whatever needs to be blogged.
Curley Culp is the perfect senior committee nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This is his last chance to gain election into the Canton, Ohio, museum. Really though, it's the first chance of election for the dominant defensive tackle who was a key part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV-winning team.

“I’ve never gotten this far before,” Culp said in a phone interview. “I’ve heard my name mentioned before, but I’ve never been this close before.”

[+] EnlargeCurley Culp
Manny Rubio/USA TODAY SportsFormer Chief Curley Culp (61) is one of two senior committee nominees for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Culp, who played for the Chiefs from 1968 to 1974, is one of two senior committee nominees; he is one of 17 finalists for election into the Hall of Fame. The vote is Saturday. Senior committee nominees often have a terrific chance of gaining election. Players go to the Senior committee after their 25 years of eligibility in the general voting process expires.

Culp, 66, is among four finalists with ties to the AFC West. The others are Kansas City guard Will Shields, Raiders receiver Tim Brown and defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who finished his career in Oakland but is known more for his time in Tampa Bay. Along with Culp, Sapp is considered to have the best chance of election.

Now that he is on the cusp of gaining entry to the Hall, Culp admits he’s excited.

“It has not captured my every thought, but ever since I became a finalist, I’ve been thinking a lot about it,” Culp said. “It would be an honor to be part of so many great men in the special club. I’m just pleased to be part of this process.”

Culp, who operates a car service in Austin, Texas, would join a long list of Chiefs in the Hall of Fame; that, he said, is part of the excitement for him. Culp is part of the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame and he regularly participates in functions related to that.

“I am a Kansas City Chiefs fan,” said Culp, who noted he is fired up about the hiring of Andy Reid as coach. ”The Chiefs were a big part of my life.”

And Culp -- who went on to play seven seasons in Houston and two in Detroit -- was a big part of the Chiefs. At 6-foot-1, 265 pounds, Culp, who won the NCAA heavyweight wrestling title while at Arizona State, was a unique player. In the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV win against Minnesota, Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram put Culp over the center and it opened up plays for future Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan and Willie Lanier. Many people credit it for the beginning of the 3-4 defense.

Saturday, Culp might be rewarded for being part of NFL history.
Five of 15 modern-era finalists for 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement have ties to teams currently in the NFC West.

Their names are shaded in the chart below: Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Aeneas Williams, Jerome Bettis and Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

The first two men listed qualify as seniors candidates. Their enshrinement does not affect the maximum five slots available to modern-era candidates.

San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig was among the 12 semifinalists not making the reduction to 15 this year. The others were: Morten Andersen, Steve Atwater, Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Joe Jacoby, Albert Lewis, John Lynch, Karl Mecklenburg, Paul Tagliabue, Steve Tasker and George Young.

The next round of voting begins and ends one day before the Super Bowl. I'm one of the voters and will have a tough time reducing to five on the final ballot, as usual. It's a select group that makes it in the end. Strong cases can be made for each of the four players eligible for the first time. Adding them to the list makes it tougher for some of the holdovers.

Best Chiefs Team Ever: 1969

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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.

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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.

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