8. Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali is one of a few on this list that won’t just be remembered for their spectacular play on the field, but their passion for Kansas City, their teammates, and the game of football. Hali was all of those things, and a consummate leader through some of the toughest times in recent memory for Chiefs Kingdom.
An escapee of the civil war raging in Liberia at the age of 10, Hali came to the United States with a dream of reuniting with his mother. He believed the game of football could be the catalyst for that dream, and his dedication and focus resulted in All American honors in both high school and college.
After an All American senior season at Penn State under Joe Paterno in 2005, in which he led the Big 10 with 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, Hali was considered one of the top defensive end prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Hali with the 20th overall pick with the intention of pairing him with opposing bookend Jared Allen in the team’s 4-3 defense.
Hali was a good defensive end, fairly good in fact, but it wasn’t until the team switched to the 3-4 alignment and Hali switched to outside linebacker that he began to thrive. After failing to register double digit sacks as a defensive end, in his second season at outside linebacker Hali exploded. He led the team in sacks with 14.5 coming in a close second in the NFL to Demarcus Ware with 15.5.
Hali’s success would not be short-lived, as far as football players’ careers usually go. Over a six-year period he’d amass 59 sacks and make the Pro Bowl roster five times. Injuries plagued his career near the end with the team, but his 89.5 sacks are still second in team history trailing only Derrick Thomas with 126.5.
Though Hali was not an AFC or Super Bowl champion, his furthest playoff appearance being the divisional round, he was one of the more consistent all-around players for the Chiefs over the last 20 seasons. His stretch from 2010 to 2015 gives him the boost he needs to be considered one of the greatest linebackers in Chiefs history.