The best Kansas City Chiefs to ever wear the uniform: No. 20
By Matt Conner
In this special offseason series, we analyze the best players in Kansas City Chiefs history to wear every single uniform number. Here’s No. 20.
In high school, there was a general side hallway I would avoid if at all possible. I was rarely needed in those categories, so it wasn’t a huge chore to stay away, but it was all because it was the most violent part of the facility. The “wrong” kids would hang there, lingering in the hallway waiting for someone to give them the wrong look. Or so I believed.
If there’s such a hall of Chiefs numbers, this is it. It’s not that these players are ill behaved, but rather, I just wouldn’t want to mess with any of them. (That’s true for every NFL player, really). They were tough. They worked their asses off. They can stand in any hallway they want without fear.
That’s just not me.
Let’s take a look at the contenders for the best to wear the uniform bearing No. 20 on the back.
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It’s a shame there’s not a way for fans to remember guys like Thomas Jones. The stats reveal a 3.5 yards/carry average, but I’ll just remember the sheer strength, the biceps, the punch to Jon Baldwin.
Then there’s Benny Sapp, an aggressive defensive back who enjoyed a longer than expected career in the pros due to his talent and unrelenting effort.
The same can be said of Shaun Draughn, a running back who has always stared up at several bodies in front of him on a number of depth charts with a total of 9 different NFL teams. Yet time after time, he ended up breaking through given the opportunity to play 57 games over the course of 6 NFL seasons.
(As for current player wearing this number, here’s hoping Steven Nelson turns in a great contract year in a season where the Chiefs need significant secondary help.)
The Runner-up: Bobby Hunt
Bobby Hunt is one of the original great safeties for the Chiefs (see below, too). Hunt had 37 interceptions for the Chiefs over six seasons, and he even led the league with 10 in ’66. He was named to the Pro Bowl in ’64 (surprisingly not again in ’66), and he ended his career with 42 INTs after playing another two seasons in Cincy.
Remember what makes these early stats that much more amazing is the seasons were only 14 games long instead of today’s 16-game schedule, which means less chances to pad the stat sheet. That should make us all appreciate former Chiefs heroes that much more.
The Winner: Deron Cherry
If you’re a newer Chiefs fan, here’s hoping your favorite player in Eric Berry. He’s inspirational in every way, and he’s the sort of athlete you want your son or daughter cheering for. But you should also know that the Chiefs have experienced greatness at safety in every decade since their existence and today’s winner is a great example.
Deron Cherry was a truly elite strong safety for the Chiefs in an 11-year career spanning a full decade, from 1981 to ’91. In that time, he was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in ’83 and decided to build a home there, returning again in ’84, ’85, ’86, ’87 and ’88. Even in his final year, at the age of 32, Cherry started 15 of 16 games and added 4 more interceptions in a standout season.
What’s even more amazing is that Cherry almost didn’t get the chance to even play in the NFL. He was invited to Chiefs training camp as an undrafted punter, but the former Rutgers star begged for a chance to try out at other positions because he knew his chance to make the team at punter was limited given the other talent on the roster.
From there, Cherry asked Marv Levy (Chiefs head coach) if he could try out at both safety spots. The Chiefs even cut Cherry as they finalized the active roster before the season, but they brought him back when injuries took their toll. At that point, they found an emerging star at safety who took full advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
With 50 career interceptions, Cherry is now a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
Next: The Best to Wear It: No. 19
Congratulations to Deron Cherry for being the greatest Chiefs player to ever wear the No. 20 on his uniform!