Welcome to part 5 of our Memorable Moments series. Currently we are at the end of some dark days for our beloved franchise. Not a great deal to be brag about during this time-frame but there are always some moments (hence the series name) worth mentioning.
So, without further ado, I present to you…
1984-89 Memorable Moments
1984 – Chiefs draft DT Bill Maas and T John Alt.
1985 – In the regular season finale against San Diego, wide receiver Stephone Paige sets an NFL record with 309 receiving yards in a 38–34 win, breaking the previous mark of 303 yards set by Cleveland’s Jim Benton in 1945.
1986 – Chiefs return to playoffs after 14-year drought.
1986 – Willie Lanier inducted into NFL Hall Of Fame – Played middle linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs for 11 seasons from 1967 through 1977. Lanier was the first African American to star at that demanding position and not only was he a true pioneer but also the key cog in one of the National Football League’s strongest defensive teams. Save his first and last seasons, he picked off two passes every year and wound up with 27 in total, which were returned for 440 yards and two touchdowns. He also recovered 18 fumbles.
1987 – Len Dawson inducted into NFL Hall Of Fame – Known for his poise and calm approach to every situation, the 6-0, 190-pound Lenny “The Cool” was often praised by his coach, Hank Stram, as “the most accurate passer in pro football.” His record adds fuel to that speculative fire. He was selected to play in six AFL All-Star games and the 1972 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. An All-AFL selection in both 1962 and 1966, he was named the AFL Player of the Year in 1962. During his career, he completed 2,136 of 3,741 passes for 28,711 yards and 239 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,293 yards before retiring after the 1975 season.
1989 – Chiefs Hire Marty Schottenheimer and the fortunes of the Chiefs franchise turn around immediately.
1989 – RB Christian Okoye becomes first Chiefs RB to lead the NFL in rushing with an at the time franchise record of 1,480 yards on 370 carries. Posting 8 100-yard performances, Christian was chose AFC Player of the year. Okoye also becomes the first Chiefs RB to start in the Pro Bowls since the late Joe Delaney.
1984-89 Time Capsules
1984: On November 4th in a game against the Seattle Seahawks, QB Todd Blackledge tosses six interceptions, four of which are returned for touchdowns in a 45-0 loss. Rookie NT Bill Maas wins defensive rookie of the Year, as the Chiefs improve their porous defense. Inconsistent play would doom the season as the team finished with an 8-8 record.
1985: The Chiefs get off to a roaring start posting three wins in their first four games. One of the wins, a 28-7 pounding of the Seattle Seahawks on September 29th, featured FS Deron Cherry tying an NFL record with 4 interceptions. However, the Chiefs lose seven straight on their way to a disappointing 6-10 season.
1986: It appeared the pieces were coming together for the Chiefs, who posted a 7-3 start, but after 3 straight losses in November, the Chiefs playoff chances seemed in jeopardy. However, the Chiefs would bounce back with 37-10 win over the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead and then the franchise’s first win ever over the Raiders at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, putting the Chiefs in a position to reach the playoffs.
On December 21st vs Pittsburgh over the Steelers, the Chiefs prevailed 24-19 earning the club an AFC Wild Card berth and the club’s 1st playoff appearance in 15 years. However, the jubilation would be short lived as the Chiefs fell 35-15 to the Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wild Card Game. Following the season Head Coach John Mackovic would leave to take over the University of Texas coaching reigns.
1987: The Chiefs split their first 2 games but never recover as the player’s strike commences and the Chiefs replacements go 0-3. Following the return of the regulars, the Chiefs struggles continue as the club loses their next 4 games to sit at 1-8. The Chiefs would go on to finish with a very lackluster 4-11 record.
1988: Following another poor 4-11-1 season, the franchise would have a major shakeup at the top as Carl Peterson takes over as the club’s President/General Manager and Chief Operating Officer. In one of his first decisions, Peterson would replace Coach Frank Ganz, who failed miserably in his 2 seasons as the Chiefs HC. In short order Peterson would hire Marty Schottenheimer, who had led the Browns to 2 straight Conference Title Appearances, away from Cleveland.
1989: The Golden Era begins in the draft when the Chiefs select Butkus award winning LB Derrick Thomas out of Alabama with the 4th overall pick. Thomas makes an immediate impact earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Chiefs get off to a slow start prevailing in only 3 of their first 8 contests. However, the club would finish strong led by RB Christian Okoye, who sets a club record 1,480 yards rushing and becomes the first Chief to lead the NFL. The Chiefs would close out the decade with an 8-7-1 record.
Previous pieces in the series
Next up: 1990-1995