By Soren Petro
At the end of the 1992 season the Chiefs were coming off their third straight playoff appearance. While it was clear the organization had turned a corner from the dark ages of franchise history, it was also clear they were still missing a key ingredient to their franchise.
In recent years we’ve heard Chiefs fans talk about wanting to get back to the “good old days when the Chiefs played great defense.” That sounds great, but I think those memories have grown fonder with time.
In January of ’93 the Chiefs had yet to begin selling out every game, even though they were coming off three straight playoff seasons while fielding the fifth best defense in the NFL. As much as the fans like to think they “loved” those days of great defense, reality is a little different.
Reality is the Chiefs sellout streak began in 1993. It began with the acquisition of Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. It began with the excitement of a Hall of Fame quarterback taking over the reins on offense. The Chiefs ranked 25th in total offense in 1992 and were frankly, boring when they had the ball. Now a four-time Super Bowl champion was coming to town.
Expectations went through the roof and so did ticket sales.
In 1993 Chiefs fans began to believe they could win it all, and with that came the phenomenon of Red Fridays and tailgating. It was at that time, the Chiefs became what we remember the Chiefs as.
Statistically and record wise they weren’t really any better than they had been the three years before. In 1993 the Chiefs were 11-5, only a game better than the two previous seasons and the same as 1990. Offensively the Chiefs climbed to number 16 (average), while the defense fell six spots to 11th.
But what really sent the Chiefs into orbit locally were the two playoffs wins. The Chiefs knocked off the Steelers in Kansas City and then blew the doors off Chiefs fans by going into Houston and knocking off a 12-4 Oilers team that had won 11 straight. Who can forget Keith Cash spiking the football into a Buddy Ryan banner on the backside of the end zone after scoring to finally put the Chiefs on the board in the third quarter? They would go on to win 28-20 and advance to the AFC Championship game.
The “Montana Magic” had put the Chiefs just a game away from the Super Bowl and Chiefs fans believed it could happen. They could actually see their team in the Super Bowl. Of course it never did happen, but the Chiefs haven’t been that close since they were actually winning Super Bowl IV. That is Super Bowl number 4 for those who are roman numerally challenged.
So now Peyton Manning will be looking for a place to play next season. The situation is almost identical. In fact, the biggest difference is that the Chiefs are even more desperate for a franchise player… a franchise QB.
People question the health of Manning and for good reason. There are certainly risks, but there were risks with Montana as well. He wasn’t healthy for the entire season either of his two years in Kansas City. In fact he missed 7 starts in two years. But the Chiefs were 17-8 when he started and 2-5 when he didn’t. You do the math.
By the way, the deal was a steal for the Chiefs. KC traded a first round pick (#18) in ‘93 for Montana, starting safety David Whitmore, and a ’94 third round pick.
No doubt the price for Manning will be much steeper, largely because of the success the Chiefs had with Montana. That returns on that deal, both on the field and at the cash register, for the Chiefs will have teams lining up to pay much, much more for Manning.
For my money… the Chiefs should be at the front of the line.
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