7. Kansas City Chiefs, 1966, The First Super Bowl
After Lamar Hunt led the push for the merger between the two major professional football leagues (the AFL and the NFL) prior to the 1966 season, and then named the championship game (quite by accident), it seemed natural and inevitable that the team he owned would appear in the first manifestation of the Super Bowl.
And then they did.
The 1966 season may have been the best in the storied Hall of Fame career of Len Dawson, the best quarterback in Chiefs history (for now). He started all 14 games, threw for 2,527 yards (high for the time period), and had a 26-10 touchdown-interception ratio. He led the team with unquestioned authority and with mastery of the position combined with a real understanding of what coach Hank Stram was trying to accomplish.
Taking full advantage of Dawson’s season were Otis Taylor, Pro Bowler and 1st team All Pro, with 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns, and Chris Burford, who added over 750 yards and eight touchdowns. The backs added almost 2,300 yards of rushing on the season, too, which definitely made life easier for Lenny the Cool.
We briefly mentioned the caliber of defensive players on this ’60s squad when discussing the ’68 team, and while this manifestation didn’t have as many All-Pro selections (only two) or Pro Bowlers (also only two, it was still just as impactful. That force was led by Bobby Bell, and 20 interceptions between the two starting safeties, Johnny Robinson and Bobby Hunt.
The team was very good—just not good enough. The Bart Starr led Green Bay Backers demonstrated just how far ahead of the AFL that NFL teams were in the first year of the merger, pummeling the AFL’s best 35-10 in a game that really was not even that close.
Despite the loss, the 1966 season was one of the best in team history.