Kansas City Chiefs: Mount Rushmore

June 10, 2022

There are a lot of sports Mount Rushmores out there, but I think the Kansas City Chiefs have one of the best ones out there. For my version, I am going with any member of the Chiefs organization. Coaches, management, ownership, and players. If they were affiliated with the Chiefs, they’re eligible. I chose this group because it is the most complicated version and if you are going to do one then you may as well go big.

This was an incredibly hard list to come up with considering there are only four spots available on any Mount Rushmore. I had to leave off all-time Chiefs and NFL names like head coach Hank Stram, Andy Reid, and Marty Schottenheimer. Players like Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Tony Gonzalez, and Buck Buchanan. Even radio voices like Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, and Kevin Harlan.

All those names are or should be Hall of Famers and mentioned among the greatest members of the Chiefs franchise. But when you narrow it down to four names, these four stick out the most to me.

Lamar Hunt, Owner/Founder, Chiefs 1960-2006

Everything associated with the Kansas City Chiefs is here thanks to Lamar Hunt. I would not be writing this article, this website wouldn’t exist and you would not be a fan reading it if Mr. Hunt did not create the Dallas Texans (and eventually, the Kansas City Chiefs).

Mr. Hunt became an owner of the Dallas Texans in 1959 when he and a handful of other owners decided to create a new football league called the American Football League. He only stayed in Dallas for three seasons before moving to greener pastures in Kansas City, Missouri. Since May 22, 1963, Kansas City has been synonymous with the Chiefs.

Hunt is credited with naming the Super Bowl and his name graces the trophy given to the winner of the AFC Championship Game every year. His son, Clark Hunt, took over control of the franchise following Mr. Hunt’s passing on December 13, 2006. The Hunt name will forever be a name treated with the utmost respect in Kansas City.

There would be a strong argument that Mr. Hunt should be on Mount Rushmore for the entire NFL, so it is a no-brainer that he takes the most prominent spot on the Chiefs’ Mount Rushmore.

Carl Peterson, President/General Manager, Chiefs 1989-2008

Okay, this one is likely to get some of your eyes rolling but hear me out. We all love to make fun of the league’s less fortunate franchises such as the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars. Well from 1971 to 1988 the Kansas City Chiefs were one of those teams.

People want to point to 2012 when banners flew over the stadium and the stadium was “empty”. Well by the 1980s things were so bad that fans didn’t even care enough to worry about banners. Empty stadiums didn’t mean 50,000 fans; empty meant less than 20,000 fans. I can vividly remember going to a game in 1987 with my parents and sister in which my sister and I spent most of the game playing tag around the lower level. It was so empty we never got in anyone’s way and our parents could yell at us from the opposite side of the field and we heard them.

Then on December 19, 1988, the Chiefs hired a new general manager named Carl Peterson. “King Carl” as he would later be nicknamed, wasted little time in completely changing the direction of the Chiefs franchise. On January 24, 1989, he hired Marty Schottenheimer to be the new head coach. Then on April 23, 1989, his first draft pick was NFL legend, Derrick Thomas.

That was only the beginning. It took just two seasons for Peterson to build the Chiefs into a playoff team. It would become just the second time since 1971. He turned the team from one of the worst franchises in the sport that couldn’t get enough fans to fill the club level into the team we love today. The Chiefs were the winningest team of the 1990s. Arrowhead became the loudest stadium and the number one tailgate stadium in the league under Peterson’s watch.

Alongside Thomas, he drafted future Hall of Famers Tony Gonzalez and Will Shields. Other Chiefs legends drafted include Brian Waters, Neil Smith, Dale Carter, Donnie Edwards, Dante Hall, Tim Grunhard, and Larry Johnson. He also traded for Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, and Willie Roaf. He had many great signings, none better than Priest Holmes.

Of course, the one strike against Carl is a big one; he never brought a Super Bowl to Kansas City. Of course, that is a big problem, and likely the only thing those of you under the age of 30 to 35 remember about Peterson. Those of us 40+ can understand how low we were at that time to how high we went.

We weren’t bad for a few years, like 2011 & 2012 before Andy Reid came. We were bad for over a decade, and thanks to Carl we became a top 10 franchise even without a championship banner. The Chiefs Kingdom and the mystique of Arrowhead Stadium are all thanks to Carl Peterson. That gets him a spot on my Mount Rushmore.

Derrick Thomas, Linebacker, Chiefs 1989-1999

Derrick Thomas is the greatest player in franchise history pre-Mahomes. Like Carl Peterson, he came to Kansas City when we were at our lowest and helped lead us to heights we could only dream of.

Thomas was drafted fourth overall in the 1989 NFL draft, possibly the greatest draft class in NFL history. He went on to record 10 sacks and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award during his first season. Thomas proved it was no fluke in his second year, recording 20 sacks including a record seven sacks in one game against the Seattle Seahawks.

During his career, “DT” was a three-time All-Pro and went to nine Pro Bowls. He finished his career with 126.5 sacks, good enough for the top ten all-time at the time and still 17th all-time today. He is a Chiefs Hall of Famer, had his number 58 retired, and of course an NFL Hall of Famer. He’s widely considered a top ten pass rusher in the history of the NFL.

His stats would be greater and his rankings would likely be higher if not for his untimely death following the 1999 season. A tragic car accident took him far earlier than he should have been gone at the age of 33. Despite only playing nine years in the league, his place in NFL and Chiefs history is undeniable. As the greatest Chiefs player of the first 58 years of the franchise’s history, I dare anyone to argue against his place on the Mount Rushmore of Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Chiefs 2017-Present

Patrick Mahomes belongs on the Chiefs’ Mount Rushmore. Yes, Mahomes, entering just his fifth season as the franchise starter, is already the greatest player in franchise history.

Despite only having four seasons under his belt, he is already third all-time in Chiefs passing yards (18,991), second in passing touchdowns (151), and quarterback victories (50). Those are where he stands in career numbers after just four seasons. As far as single-season records, he holds every single one of them. Most of them in just his first season as a starter.

He has to lead the Chiefs to four straight AFC Championship games. And not just four straight games, four straight home AFC Championship games; the only time that has ever happened inside Arrowhead. Of course, Mahomes has also led the Chiefs to the promised land. Going to two Super Bowls and winning Super Bowl LIV.

All of that is enough to make him the greatest player in franchise history, and that deserves a spot on Mount Rushmore, but he’s so much more. Mahomes has ingrained himself into the Kansas City community like no other player has in perhaps the history of pro sports. He has become part-owner of the Kansas City Royals, Sporting Kansas City, and the Kansas City Current. His 15 and the Mahomies Foundation is a nonprofit he started that is dedicated to improving the lives of children. Oh, and of course, he brought Whataburger to the Kansas City metro.

He signed the richest contract in the history of the NFL, $503 million over ten years. It sounds crazy, but by making the contract so long he actually took less money to stay with the team so the Chiefs could have the cap flexibility to keep a winner on the field. He will never be the highest-paid quarterback in the league in any year under the deal.

All of these reasons are why Mahomes has to be a lock for the final spot on the Chiefs’ Mount Rushmore.


Who would be on your version of the Chiefs Mount Rushmore? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

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