As promised, as part of The COAT Final Four Preview, here are the picks of our esteemed panel:
Len Dawson was the original face of the Kansas City Chiefs. His legacy is one of winning, class and professionalism. He was the Super Bowl MVP in the Chiefs’ only Super Bowl win. His expertise was aired each week of the season for nearly 24 years on Inside the NFL. Lenny is still in our hearts and minds as the sports director for the KMBC television station. He is not only a testament to the class of the Chiefs but to the class of Kansas City as well.
I don’t want to downplay the contributions of the other COAT finalists. But Len Dawson has accomplished more in the realm of professional football than most players could even imagine.
Chris Kolb, K.C. Chiefs Fanatic:
When I see the names of Len Dawson, Tony Gonzalez, Derrick Thomas, and Willie Lanier, chills run through every bone in my body. For my money those four players are the greatest four players in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs, and as someone who has bled Red and Gold for the entirety of my life, those four players will always hold a cherished spot in my heart. Trying to match up Len Dawson vs. Tony Gonzalez, or Derrick Thomas vs. Willie Lanier is kind of like trying to decide what to eat at your favorite restaurant: they’re all so damn good, I don’t know who to pick.
But alas, this is a competition, and so I’ll opine on the subject if only to help any readers in their decision making process on these four players. As for Len Dawson vs. Tony Gonzalez, I have to go with Lenny D. on this one Chiefs fans. While it’s true that Tony G. will go down as the greatest Tight End in NFL history, Len Dawson is the only quarterback to take the Chiefs to the promised land: a Super Bowl victory. That’s why he wins here hands down in my mind.
As for Derrick Thomas vs. Willie Lanier, I will stick with Derrick Thomas, who was my idol growing up. Mr. Lanier was a tremendous player for sure and a legitimate Hall of Famer to boot, but Derrick Thomas will always be the greatest player in the Chiefs’ history as far as I’m concerned, so not only will I pick him against Willie Lanier, but I’ll also say that he’s my pick to be the winner of the COAT over the Chiefs greatest quarterback, Len Dawson. Hopefully this has been helpful to all of you crazy Chiefs fans out there trying decide who to pick in this competition, because believe me when I say it’s not an easy decision to make.
Lenny the Cool’s out for two reasons: a) he’s been lauded as the greatest Chiefs icon since winning the Super Bowl IV most valuable player award; we know he was awesome, and b) he had the fortune of leading a pretty darn complete team when he played. Derrick Thomas was awesome at the pass rush, little more, except fathering illegitimate children and driving fast in icy conditions. Willie Lanier was amazing and received all the accolades for being such, but, like Dawson played for a solid team. Tony Gonzalez, however, has played for almost every category of Chiefs teams possible: perennial playoff appearances under Marty Schottenheimer (albeit the end of that regime); chaos, confusion and straight up .500 football for the two-year Gunther Cunningham stint; the most powerful offense in the National Football League, nicely balanced by the league’s worst defense under Dick Vermeil; and now a resurgence of MartyBall with a youthful kick to it under Herman Edwards. Gonzalez has played for teams with no rushing attack, teams with poor quarterbacking, poor leadership, no wide outs worth mentioning, great running backs, good offensive lines, mediocre offensive lines, incredible defenses and horrible defenses. He is the most electrifying Chief of the last two decades and could very well be the last Chief to spend his entire career in Kansas City. That’s why Tony Gonzalez is the man to win the COAT. Oh, and he’s the best tight end to ever play the game. Eat donkey doo, Shannon Sharpe lovers.
Wow, this is tough. While we both love Derrick Thomas — and have the utmost respect and adoration for both Lenny Dawson and Willie Lanier, even though we’re too young to have seen them play live — it’s hard to go against Tony Gonzalez here. Did he ever win a Super Bowl? No, but he never played on a team with anywhere near as much talent as the ’69 Super Bowl team had. All of these guys only wore the Red and Gold, so loyalty gets thrown out of the debate. The point that Zach and I keep getting stuck on is that Tony G. is the only Chiefs player ever that’s the best NFL player of all time at his position. This year he will eclipse Shannon Sharpe’s touchdown record for tight ends, and before it’s said and done he will own every significant tight end record out there. Lenny was great, but there’s no way he’s the best quarterback in NFL history. In fact, I’d take three active QBs over him (Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady). Willie Lanier is great as well, but there have been better players at his position (Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis off the top of my head). D.T. was great, maybe the best pass rusher ever, but he’s not the best outside linebacker or defensive end of all time (Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White take those honors).Gonzalez has been the best tight end ever to put on cleats and step on an NFL field, and he’s done it for a decade now no matter who’s played alongside him. It’s a tough call, but Tony Gonzalez is our pick for The COAT.
1. Len Dawson vs. 5. Tony Gonzalez
3. Derrick Thomas vs. 7. Willie Lanier
We’re headed to River Falls for Saturday’s scrimmage against the Vikes, so we’re just going to let this ride. We’ll be on with an update by at least late Saturday night or early Sunday. For all of those up there we look forward to seeing you!