The best Kansas City Chiefs to ever wear the uniform: No. 27
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. 27.
We are likely witnessing the transition.
The problem with drawing a line in the sand in a series like this is that history is still being made, shaped, recorded every single season. This year will introduce a new starting quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, a player who could rewrite the record books for the franchise or go down as the biggest bust in team history.
Yet there’s no way to just stop and wait for all football to be finished before you write about it. In our attempts to identify the best player at each position, the reality is that some players are active right now, rewriting any attempts to pin down franchise greatness. It’s just the way these things work and we think No. 27 might be one of those.
You’ll see what we mean.
John Dorsey has a hell of an eye for safeties. He spied Ron Parker on waivers and turned him into a multi-year starter. Dan Sorensen went from an undrafted free agent to playing out a second contract. And two minor players here who have worn No. 27 serve as further evidence.
Kurt Coleman and Tyvon Branch were veteran safeties looking for meaningful work of any kind when John Dorsey signed them. Both players made greater impacts than expected on the field and have went on to play several more seasons apiece. Coleman has started the last three seasons for the Carolina Panthers and is now a member of the New Orleans Saints. Branch has played for the Arizona Cardinals for the last two years after leaving K.C.
The Runner-up: Kareem Hunt
What else can we say about Kareem Hunt that hasn’t already been written about his rookie season. Chiefs fans are watching greatness slowly unfold before them if he can stay healthy and away from future altercations. Hunt is the total package, a man who makes you miss even when you hit.
Last year, he mowed over the defending Super Bowl champions on their home turf in primetime in his very first game, setting an NFL record for a debut with 246 yards from scrimmage. He finished with over 1,700 total yards in the same category including a league leading rushing total of 1,327. Despite the tremendous year, better things should be expected as he adjusts to a longer schedule and develops stamina for the stretch. He’ll also know the offense that much better.
His first season has him at No. 26 all time. If he matches his rushing yardage in year two, he will find himself in the Chiefs top 10 after just 32 games.
The Winner: Larry Johnson
We could project all kinds of great things for Kareem Hunt and get excited, but let’s not ignore the reality here that Larry Johnson has already achieved the kind of greatness we’re hoping for Hunt.
Johnson is third all time for the Chiefs in terms of career rushing yards, and he’s only 55 yards short of Priest Holmes in 2nd place. It seemed ridiculous for the Chiefs to take LJ in the first round when they did in 2003 because they were already loaded at the position, but it allowed the team to enjoy a seamless transition from the loss of Holmes to the emergence of Johnson.
Johnson only had 2 seasons in his career where he rushed for over 1,000 yards, but he actually eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark in both seasons in terms of yards from scrimmage. He also had well over 1,700 rushing yards in each of those two years. He also only had a single season where he started all 16 games, a career interrupted by the presence of Holmes, a foot injury and his own behavioral issues.
On another team and on his best behavior, it’s possible that Johnson would rank among the NFL’s most prolific backs, but such exercises are silly. What we do know is that Larry Johnson was a tremendous talent who enjoyed one of the most productive bursts for any team and it’s a total that still stands among the franchise’s best.
Next: The Best to Wear It: No. 26
Congratulations to Larry Johnson for being the greatest Chiefs player to ever wear the No. 27 on his uniform!