I was reading the forward to a book about the Kansas City Chiefs written by Otis Taylor. The forward described his relationship with Hank Stram as “Love / Hate”. Hank Stram, according to Otis, would make the team run 100 yard sprints, ten sets, then turn around and make them run them again until they dropped. “Fifty players would be ready to kill Hank,” said Otis. But after it was all over, he would have beer and ribs ready for the entire team. “Coach really knew how to work your mind.”
Wow. That description sure made my mind work.
He didn’t mention the time period, but as I lay in bed this week sick with the flu, my mind drifting in between that wonderful state of slumber and consciousness, I imagined it was the incredible season of 1969.
That, of course, would mean Municipal Stadium.
Ribs and beer after practice! Those would likely be ribs prepared by the great BBQ artist Arthur Bryant himself. I bet they were spread out on long fold up tables with red paper cloths sporting the Kansas City Chiefs logo. Metal forks and glass plates, maybe with the Chiefs logo on them too.
And those ribs that Coach Stram had waiting for them? Not commercial hog farm raised swine full of antibiotics, but hogs raised by local Kansas City farms, probably butchered the day before. The sauce was made fresh too, stirred in a big pot over a hickory fire, the only way Mr. Bryant would prepare his BBQ.
The beer came buried in those metal Igloo coolers covered with chipped ice, not those cubes you get at the grocery store today. You could grab a handful if it were an especially hot day and feel them melt in your mouth as you hurried off to join Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Johnny Robinson, and the rest of the best NFL team ever to take the field.
The parking lot outside the stadium would be stacked with 1969 muscle cars, of course. The players of 1969 didn’t make a lot of money, but then NFL players aren’t exactly known for their thrift.
If you stood on the last row of the stadium and looked out on the parking lot you would see Pontiac GTO’s, Oldsmobile 442’s, maybe even a bright red Hemi Cuda.
The black Cadillac parked over by itself probably belongs to Len Dawson. The white Lincoln with suicide doors is waiting for Willie Lanier.
Just as in later years, Lamar Hunt probably walked among the players, joking and listening to their hopes, dreams, and stories. Mr. Hunt likely drank a freshly squeezed lemonade packed with freshly cut lemons from Bryant’s down the street.
But the difference was optimism. The Lamar Hunt dream to own his own professional football team was working. His beloved Chiefs had went to the first Super Bowl. They were about to win this year’s in one of the best Super Bowl wins in history.
Good God, I have to go find some ribs.