The 1969 Kansas City Chiefs: in my humble opinion, the best Super Bowl team ever. Many people assume that the Kansas City Chiefs only played in Arrowhead, which is not true, of course.
Municipal Stadium was the original home for our beloved team.
She was over forty years old when Lamar Hunt brought his Texans to Kansas City.
A blue collar atmosphere, which the players especially loved, was the reputation she had.
Both teams sat on the same side of the field, as the Chiefs felt that was an advantage over confused visitors who were not used to the dual sport setup.
There were not many corporate seats at Muni. The fans were guys that were used to throwing their lunches under the truck seat before they headed out to construction jobs. Many were farmers whose tailgating food consisted of four-inch-thick ham sandwiches made with freshly baked bread.
The corporate types that did attend, from such companies as Western Auto, brought their eats from Arthur Bryants, just down the street.
The games in Kansas City were blacked out. Period. Families stayed in motel rooms on the edges of the blackout areas just to watch their beloved Chiefs battle opposing teams.
Teams in the 1960′s didn’t just get nervous when they came to Kansas City. They felt fear. Real fear.
Of course, football was different back then.
Damn good players made $20,000 a year. Lesser-skilled players could make more at regular jobs and worked at car dealerships during the offseason. My friend and fishing partner, a Kansas City policeman at the time, pulled Otis Taylor over for running a stop sign. “Please have a valid driver’s license, please have a valid driver’s license” he told himself as he walked to the ten year old Plymouth that Otis drove. The license was produced, no tickets were issued, and both parties went on their merry 1960′s Kansas City way.
In the days of Municipal stadium, ACL injuries were permenant. Men were crippled for life on the playing fields of the 1960′s and early seventies. Men, such as Stone Johnson, even died.
Lamar Hunt and Kansas City soon moved on to the Arrowhead we love today. The Truman Sports complex was the first sports complex to have both a baseball and football facility side by side, a testament to our city’s love for sports that many envied, and still envy even today, as constructing a complex akin to ours is a near impossibility in today’s economy for most venues.
Kansas City went to the Superbowl twice while playing at Municipal stadium.
The early success the Kansas City Chiefs enjoyed there just hasn’t been recaptured, though the nineties came close.
Sometimes when I’m laying back in my chair on a lazy August afternoon at Arrowhead, especially when a few empty cans of a certain malt beverage litter my perimeter, I close my eyes and imagine I’m at the old Municipal stadium with my dad. As we sit in old wooden chairs on the field, I can see Otis Taylor, Jan Stenerud, Willie Lanier, and Len Dawson take the field for the longest NFL game played to date, on December 25, 1971. It was the last time the Chiefs would ever compete at 22nd Street and Brooklyn.
Of course many, many historic moments in baseball occurred at Municipal Stadium too.
Jackie Robinson played there as a Monarch.
According to Lou Gehrig historian S. Kaden, on June 12, 1939, Gehrig played baseball for the very last time there. The Yankees stopped by Kansas City to play the Blues in an exhibition game. Lou played that afternoon, headed to the Mayo clinic for testing and within a week was diagnosed with the disease that bares his name today.
There isn’t much to remember Municipal stadium today. The last time I drove by it was just an empty, weedy field.
But even though it’s gone , from my second row seats at Arrowhead I still see it.
I see it in the eyes of a defensive lineman who has been on the field longer than he should be because of endless turnovers.
I saw it in the nervous eyes of Dwayne Bowe as he skips and dances around in our corner before the game. A game that’s meaningless to the season but everything to a man who loves the game of football.
Even in the smart phone toting fans I see it. As different as they are, they still stay and shiver in the rain of a Monday night football game. Just like those fans so long ago in Municipal stadium.
For Kansas City Chiefs fans, it all started at Brooklyn and 22nd. Will those days ever return? I say yes. What do you say?