The best Kansas City Chiefs to ever wear the uniform: No. 36
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. 36.
Every offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs hand out a few bits of hardware to some deserving players who enjoyed strong seasons for themselves. The Derrick Thomas award is given to the team’s most valuable player. The Ed Block award is given for sportsmanship. The Mack Lee Hill award is bestowed upon the team’s best rookie performer.
As we arrive at No. 36, we get to meet the man behind one such award, a tragic story told in remembrance each year by the award that bears his name. This is what such awards are for, to make sure that the legacies of those who have gone before live on.
Let’s get to the best Chiefs players to ever wear No. 36, even if it’s such a short list.
Besides the two listed players below, no other member of the Kansas City Chiefs has worn this number.
The Runner-up: Clem Daniels
As much as this post is about Mack Lee Hill, the underlying thread weaving both players together here is a question of “What might have been?”
Clem Daniels signed with the Dallas Texans in 1960 to play in the AFL before the franchise moved to Kansas City and lasted a single season. He sat on the bench behind Abner Haynes all season and got a chance for a single carry in the process. Unfortunately that went for a negative-two yards.
One year later, Daniels was traded to the Oakland Raiders and never looked back. He earned the AFL’s MVP award in 1963 after leading the league in rushing yards (1,099) and yards from scrimmage (1,784). He turned into a four-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro and finished his career as the league’s all-time leading rusher before they merged with the NFL.
The Winner: Mack Lee Hill
Mack Lee Hill was an impressive young fullback who earned a Pro Bowl nod his rookie season in 1964 and led the AFL in yards/carry that year and the next. Unfortunately near the end of that second season, Hill was struck by injury and then by tragedy.
Hill suffered a torn ligament against Buffalo in Week 12, which would have already ended his season, but there on the operating table days later, Hill went on to lose his life due to “a sudden and massive embolism”—at least that’s what they believed at the time (a heat stroke was also blamed). At the age of 25, Hill had tragically passed away.
The next year, the Chiefs not only won the AFL title but they also established the Mack Lee Hill award. They also retired his number. To this day No. 36 belongs to a impressive young man who left this world far too early.
Next: The Best to Wear It: No. 35
Congratulations to Mack Lee Hill for being the greatest Chiefs player to ever wear the No. 36 on his uniform!