Tales From the Kansas City Chiefs Sideline

Beginning with their founding as the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1960, the Kansas City Chiefs have been one of professional football’s most storied franchises. In Tales from the Kansas City Chiefs Sideline, veteran sportswriter Bob Gretz brings the team’s rich history to life.

Gretz begins with the Chiefs’ visionary, 27-year-old owner Lamar Hunt, who founded not only a team but an entire league. After the Texans won the AFL championship in 1962, Hunt moved the team out of his hometown to Kansas City. Two Super Bowl appearances as the representative of the AFL culminated in a Chiefs’ championship in 1970, despite being a double-digit underdog to the Minnesota Vikings. It would be the final game featuring an AFL team, as the Chiefs and nine other teams merged with the NFL. Gretz covers the battles leading up to the merger along with the high and low points in team history—the lean years (1972–88); the “Carl and Marty” era, when the team made the play-offs in six consecutive seasons; the “Joe and Marcus” show of 1993; the dismal 2008 season; and the team’s 2013 renewal under Andy Reid and John Dorsey.

Tales from the Kansas City Chiefs Sideline is a must-have for any Chiefs fan and will be available in September. The book can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Good Bye And Thank You

The day has come to say goodbye to bobgretz.com.

Over the last seven years, I’ve tried to bring you in-depth coverage of the Chiefs and the NFL. More often than not, I think the site provided clear and informative posts and always welcomed the participation of readers. Many of you have been with the site since those early days in training camp at River Falls, Wisconsin back in July 2008. Many of you have watched the site and my life go through many stages. The encouragement you provided was a gift I never took for granted. Even complaints and disagreements taught me something. Without a doubt, the readers of bobgretz.com proved to be the most intelligent followers of football that I’ve ever been around. You guys have also been very sane, if it’s possible for anyone that’s a Chiefs fan to maintain their sanity.

bobgretz.com was a good idea, but there are landfills around the world filled with good ideas. I keep reading about all these folks that have made millions – billions even – from the Internet. Obviously my skills as a businessman leave something to be desired because the site never came close to breaking even. Closing down should have been done several years ago, but I was having too much fun. Then, the site became an escape for me during a heart-breaking time in 2013-14.

It’s now time for me to grow up and find a real job. Attending sporting events so I could talk and write about games and the people involved didn’t seem like such a tough job. It’s been so much fun hiding out in the toy department of life, from watching Jim Kelly quarterback his East Brady High School team against Brookville High School back in the late 1970s, to spending time at the Chiefs most recent mini-camp – those are bookends and what happened in between was a great ride.

Speaking of books – wasn’t that a great segway! — Tales from the Kansas City Chiefs Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Chiefs Stories Ever Told will be available later this summer. You can pre-order right now on Amazon.com. Plus, I have another book in development as they say. I think you’ll like that one as well. There will be other news later this month that should be of interest to the bobgretz.com family. Stay tuned; the site will remain up for a while, but eventually will go dark. I’m not sure when but before the summer is over.

Special thanks to Dan Israel whose help made the site possible technically and provided advice and support from day one. Thanks to Enrique Siu our correspondent from Puebla, Mexico. What a huge Chiefs fan and one intelligent man. Thanks to Chiefs public relations folks, as directors Bob Moore and Ted Crews, along with their staffs always treated me with respect. That’s all an Internet scribe can ask for in this crazy 21st Century world of the media.

I’m not disappearing completely . . . you’ll be able to find me starting in training camp on chiefsdigest.com. I think you’ll enjoy the product that Herbie Teope is putting out on a daily basis. He’s a hard working guy, with his boots on the ground at Chiefs headquarters on a daily basis. I’ll be doing a few pieces each week. Here’s a link to the site.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Your humble Internet servant,

Bob Gretz

Chiefs Wrap Up Second Week Of OTAs

(KC Chiefs photo)

Other than a few injuries that popped up during the week, the Chiefs had a good second week of off-season practices. They wrapped up work on Thursday with a session that started outside, but then moved indoors when the weather turned nasty.

“The guys have worked very hard,” head coach Andy Reid told the media after the week’s final practice. “We’re challenging each other, both sides of the ball are making plays. They’re getting good work on special teams, getting good work in the weight room, so I think all of those are positive things.

“I like that the mistakes – in particular with the ones and twos – are kind of smoothing out there. It’s way more functional than it’s been the last two years at this time. And then, I think the threes, because the ones and twos are doing well, those young guys are coming in and it helps them out.”

This week the Chiefs were physically nicked up as inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, nose tackle Dontari Poe and wide receiver Albert Wilson were not full participants in Thursday’s practice. Johnson took part in the warmup portion, but did not work with the defense because of swelling on his left knee. Poe was not practicing due to back spasms that began early in Tuesday’s workout. Wilson left Wednesday’s session with a hamstring issue.

Reid indicated that none of the injuries should be a major issue. Plus, at this time of the year the doctors and trainers are always very conservative in working players back into activity.

The Chiefs have now used six of their 10 OTA sessions. The last four are scheduled for Tuesday through Friday of next week. Then the off-season program ends with the team’s mini-camp.

Alex Works On More Consistency For KC Pass Game

From the Truman Sports Complex

Footwork has been on the mind of quarterback Alex Smith as he’s gone through the 2015 Chiefs offseason program.

Smith has been concentrating on being more consistent in his throwing mechanics. Even going into his 10th NFL season, the fundamentals remain a work in progress.

“Footwork is something that never goes away; you are constantly trying to get better with your feet,” Smith said. “For me it’s about working to be more consistent whether under center or in the (shot) gun. It’s something than when looking at the tape from last year I was all over the place.

“It’s (footwork) really so important to quarterbacks. It’s the foundation of throwing and I’m working to get to a point where I’m consistent with that. I think with that you are more balanced and over the long haul you are going to complete more balls and throw better balls. I’m trying to be as efficient as I can.”

Over nine seasons with the 49ers and Chiefs, Smith has completed 60.4 percent of his throws, but in his last 41 games he’s improved to 66.7 percent and last season he turned in one of the most successful passing seasons of his career, completing 65.3 percent of his throws. …Read More!

D.J., Poe Out Of OTA Session On Tuesday

From the Truman Sports Complex

Thank goodness for the Chiefs defense that it’s just early June. If there was a game to be played this coming weekend, they might have a problem. Two Pro Bowl starters were out of action on Tuesday during the team’s fourth OTA session held at the team’s facility.

Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson was on the field but he did not participate in the two-hour practice because of some swelling on his knee. Coming off last season’s ruptured Achilles tendon that kept him out for 15 games Johnson worked with no restrictions last week.

Nose tackle Dontari Poe left the field very early in the practice with what the Chiefs called a back issue. He was walked off by three members of the training staff. That’s never a good sign at any point and it was surprising because Poe has been the rock inside the Chiefs defense since he was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid did not speak to the media after practice so there was no indication of how serious either of the problems were with Johnson and Poe. As always the test will be how soon either one gets back in the No. 1 unit.

Also off the field were quarterback Tyler Bray (knee), cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Marcus Peters (NFL rules), safety Eric Berry (lymphoma), running back Cyrus Gray (knee), running back Keshawn Hill (hamstring), linebacker Justin Houston (without contract) and tight end Demetrius Harris (foot). Offensive lineman Jarrod Pughsley returned to practice after missing last week with a hamstring injury.

OTA Question: How Deep Is Cornerback Depth?

Whether they get complete answers or not, there were four key questions attracting the attention of Andy Reid and John Dorsey this week when the Chiefs began on-field work in the OTAs and an upcoming mini-camp. The Chiefs passing game was addressed here, injuries here and the offensive line here.

  1. How much progress can Alex Smith make with his new cadre of receivers, topped by Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley?
  2. How far along physically are injured starters inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito? What about safety Tyvon Branch, signed in free agency that missed most of the 2014 season in Oakland? Will they see safety Eric Berry in the next three weeks?
  3. What combinations will they create along the offensive line, with old and new faces?
  4. With draft picks Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson out of action because of NFL rules, what kind of depth can the Chiefs develop at cornerback, where they always seem to need talented bodies?

It has become a fact of life in today’s NFL – a defense can never have too many good cornerbacks. During the 256-game regular season, the league’s 32 teams averaged 4,028 passing yards. Last season, 11 of the teams had a starting quarterback that threw for more than 4,000 yards and the top half of the league’s passers threw for 3,398 yards or more.

(Right) rookie CB Justin Cox breaks up a throw to WR/RB De’Anthony Thomas during OTA work (KC Chiefs photo.)

…Read More!

Chiefs Secondary Leads The Way in First Week OTAs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The ebb and flow of NFL practices constantly shifts the advantage from offense to defense and back again, and again, and . . .

As the Chiefs wrapped up their first week of OTA practices on Thursday afternoon, it was Andy Reid’s defense that led the way. Specifically, it was the secondary that kept making plays and taking the football away from the Chiefs pass offense.

“The work has been good out here,” Reid said of the three workouts in the 10 off-season sessions he’s allowed to hold. “It’s been all positive. The guys are challenging each other. Offense makes a few plays, defensive plays and that’s how you like it.”

Cornerback Sean Smith had two interceptions, with cornerback Deji Olatoye and safeties Kelcie McCray and Daniel Sanderson hauling in passes in the middle of the field that were tipped by teammates.

“You need the turnovers on the defensive side,” said Reid. “You obviously don’t want them on the offensive side, but we’re getting good work in there where both sides are being effective. I like it. I like the way they’re challenging each other within the rules of you can’t tackle and you can’t play bump, so they’re doing a good job.” …Read More!

OTA Question: Who Will Start On The Offensive Line?

(KC Chiefs photo.)

The Chiefs will wrap up their first week of OTA sessions on Thursday with their third practice of the week. They are trying to answer a handful of off-season questions about their roster and units during the OTAs. Andy Reid and John Dorsey are focused on every move and play, especially four key areas where they will focus on personnel and how they are utilized. Those questions are:

  1. How much progress can Alex Smith make with his new cadre of receivers, topped by Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley?
  2. How far along physically are injured starters inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito? What about safety Tyvon Branch, signed in free agency that missed most of the 2014 season in Oakland? Will they see safety Eric Berry in the next three weeks?
  3. What combinations will they create along the offensive line, with old and new faces?
  4. With draft picks Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson out of action because of NFL rules, what kind of depth can the Chiefs develop at cornerback, where they always seem to need talented bodies?

We covered the passing game and the status of injured players earlier this week. Today’s epistle tackles the offensive line. …Read More!

OTA Questions: Seeking Answers On Injuries

Whether they get complete answers or not, there are four key questions attracting the attention of Andy Reid and John Dorsey as the Chiefs began on-field work in the OTAs and an upcoming mini-camp. The Chiefs passing game was addressed here. This post focuses on No. 2:

  1. How much progress can Alex Smith make with his new cadre of receivers, topped by Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley?
  2. How far along physically are injured starters inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito? What about safety Tyvon Branch, signed in free agency that missed most of the 2014 season in Oakland? Will they see safety Eric Berry in the next three weeks?
  3. What combinations will they create along the offensive line, with old and new faces?
  4. With draft picks Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson out of action because of NFL rules, what kind of depth can the Chiefs develop at cornerback, where they always seem to need talented bodies?

Derrick Johnson was on the practice field Tuesday after missing 15 games last year due to injury. (KC Chiefs photo.)

The status of injured Chiefs came into a much clearer picture on Tuesday as they worked through their first OTA. The focus of attention was on inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito. The defensive starters both went down in the 2014 regular-season opener with ruptured left Achilles. Both underwent surgery and began the arduous task of rehabbing what is one of the toughest injuries to come back from in sports, and especially football. For a pair of players older than 30, an Achilles repair is even tougher to come back and reach performance levels of previous seasons. …Read More!

OTA #1 Report – Work Begins On Offensive Line

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid kicked off his third season of OTAs with the Chiefs on Tuesday and 79 of the 90 players currently on the roster took part in the 90-minute outdoor workout at the team’s facility.

“I thought the guys got to work at a little better speed and that’s always helpful,” said Reid, conversing with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (left.)

A few injuries including one surgery, NFL rules, the arrival of a baby and poor weather in the Southeast kept the turnout down compared to the previous two seasons when 84 players showed up for both opening practices in 2013-14.

KC Chiefs photo

“I thought it was really good work, a clean practice,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “You don’t have pads on, but you want to get the most out of it. Guys worked at good speed.”

There was a lot of attention on the Chiefs offensive line, the position group that needs to show the most improvement over last season’s performance. There could be four new starters compared to last season, including new additions in guard Ben Grubbs and second-round draft choice Mitch Morse.

“We are going to find the five best guys; that’s what we are trying to get to,” Reid said. “I really don’t care where they play. I just want the five best. Then, we line up and play.” …Read More!

13 Practices/24 Days-The Heart of Chiefs Off-Season

Starting Tuesday is the most important part of the Chiefs off-season program – 13 OTA and mini-camp practices over the next 24 days.

These sessions are not exactly football – there are no pads and no tackling. Physical contact, especially along the line of scrimmage, is prohibited by the league’s labor agreement with the players.

But, these practices are as close to actual football as teams are allowed by that same contract. That doesn’t mean there’s not information to be gleaned from the work. In the case of all 32 teams it’s another step in evaluating where they sit with the 90-man roster. That starts with the 22 starters on offense and defense and then the next 22 backups and special teams performers.

Whether they get complete answers or not, there are four key questions that attract the attention of Andy Reid and John Dorsey. In no certain order they are: …Read More!

Gridiron Glory Exhibit Opens On Friday

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson got an early peek at the Gridiron Glory exhibit at Union Station

From Union Station, Kansas City, Mo.

The histories of the Chiefs and of the National Football League have come together in one exhibit at Kansas City’s Union Station.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Gridiron Glory exhibit opens Friday at the station, bringing together artifacts from the NFL along with a host of memories from the Kansas City Chiefs. Originally scheduled to open Saturday morning, Union Station executive Georgie Guastello announced Thursday night during an opening reception that the exhibit is ready to go and will be open a day early.

There is more than 10,000-square feet of exhibit space and there are 200 artifacts from the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, coming in the form of photos, jerseys and rare documents. There’s another 4,000-square feet dedicated to the history of the Chiefs. There are multi-media exhibits and plenty of video of the KC red and gold and the rest of the league. Also on display is the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the Chiefs after their Super Bowl IV victory over Minnesota in January 1970.

For the first week of the exhibit, the Hall of Fame allowed the bust of Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt to leave the building in Canton and travel to Union Station. It was unveiled Thursday evening by Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Bobby Bell. The folks at the Hall seldom allow a bust to travel to another site.

Gridiron Glory – The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a traveling exhibit that is taken throughout the country, celebrating the history, both past and current of the league. It’s as close as a football fan can get to the Hall of Fame without traveling to Canton. It will be on display at Union Station through Labor Day weekend. This Saturday, former Chiefs safety Deron Cherry will appear at the exhibit in a meet and greet session from 1-3 p.m.

Time To Encourage 2-Pointers Within NFL Rules

It has been part of football since the sport morphed out of the evolutionary swamp of rugby. There has always been an extra-point attempt after a touchdown. Only after a winning touchdown on the last play of the game keeps the point-after-touchdown try off the field.

As a historic part of the sport the PAT kick survived over one hundred years without major change. Along the way the two-point play was introduced into football, first by colleges, then the AFL and finally by the NFL before the 1994 season.

However, the one-point kick is now considered boring because it’s a play generally automatic in success. Thus, the NFL owners voted this week to move the snap spot for the PAT kick from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line. That turns the kick into the equivalent of a 32/33-yard field goal. Supposedly, this will make the PAT kick more relevant.

If anything, the league has not gone far enough. First, digest these numbers for the 2014 season:

  • PAT kicks – 1,222 of 1,230, for 99.4 percent.
  • FGs from 32 and 33 yards – 58 of 60, for 96.7 percent.

Is a three percent difference in success anything that will make the PAT kick more exciting?            …Read More!

Chiefs make post-minicamp roster moves

The Chiefs released three players and signed four others after going through the personnel evaluations after the team’s three rookie mini-camp practices.

Gone are fullback/tight end Manasseh Garner from the University of Pittsburgh, tight end Earnest Pettway from Villanova University and offensive tackle Charles Sweeton out of the University of Tennessee-Martin.

The four players that were added to the roster were top-heavy in offensive linemen. They signed: …Read More!

Rookie Mini-Camp Brought Results For Andy

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs wrapped up Rookie Camp Andy ’15 on Monday afternoon with their third practice with 68 players on the field for another session in helmets and shorts.

“It’s been a good couple days that we’ve had a chance to spend with the rookies and some of the other guys that have been with other teams,” said head coach Andy Reid. “I liked what I saw. We looked a little bit bigger and faster and they picked it up well.”

They also rolled through the camp without major injury. First-year offensive tackle Curtis Feigt was the only player missing due to injury. The Chiefs released him Monday with what was termed a non-football injury. Feigt was bothered by a hip problem.

“The guys worked hard; I’ve got to give them credit for the effort that they put out here and they did stay healthy,” said Reid. “I’m sure they’re sore, but they stayed healthy and worked hard and my hat’s off to them.”

Veterans will return to action at the team’s facility on Tuesday as they work through their final week of Phase II of the off-season program. The team’s on-field OTA sessions for the entire roster begin next Tuesday, May 26th.

CB Justin Cox (45) and WR Chris Conley (17) battle during Monday’s mini-camp. (K.C. Chiefs photo)

…Read More!

Conley Working The Mental Side In Rookie Camp

K.C. Chiefs photo

Receivers coach David Culley speaks with his receivers during practice at the Chiefs rookie mini-camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

Visually, Chiefs third-round draft choice Chris Conley is an impressive young man. The wide receiver out of the University of Georgia looks like an NFL pass catcher, at least the current incarnation of the position. He stands 6-3, weighs 205 pounds and much of that weight is chiseled into muscle.

Conley can run fast, jump high and battle for every ball thrown in his area. He’s shown that several times during the Chiefs weekend rookie mini-camp where he’s been the best of what appeared to be a nice group of young wide receivers. Conley, along with seventh-round draft choice Da’Ron Brown, undrafted college free agent Kenny Cook and tryout player Mark Roberts all made notable catches.

The Georgia native is the leader of that group and while he’s done nice things on the field, Conley has worked hardest in the meeting room and at the hotel every night, absorbing the extensive offensive playbook of Andy Reid.

“Initially when you look at it and the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” Conley said of the Reid playbook. “It’s similar to some of the stuff we ran in college; we ran a pro-style offense.

“(But) you have to really slow things down and kind of marinate different concepts for a couple days.” …Read More!

Chiefs Open Mini-Camp With 67 Bodies

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid opened the Chiefs 2015 Rookie Mini-Camp on Saturday with 67 guys running around in shorts. Just how many “players” are actually in that group remains to be seen.

There were all nine draft choices, 13 undrafted free agents, five street free agents and 40 tryout players working inside and outside at the Chiefs facility.

“This is just the first install day, putting the training wheels on,” said first-round draft choice Marcus Peters. “It’s just getting us ready to go out and practice.”

The biggest part of the three-day camp for the players are the playbooks dropped on them for Reid’s offense and defense. This is the basics of how the Chiefs do things, but it’s vital for all involved that the young players pick up the vibe as quickly as possible.

“Initially, when you look at the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” third-round draft choice Chris Conley said of the Chiefs offensive playbook. “It’s something you have to break down into smaller pieces. Once you do that, you can start to look at concepts, you start to look at personnel groupings, and the way you want them.”

The team roster listed 69 players on a pre-camp roster, but two were not on the field. First-year offensive tackle Curtis Feigt did not practice because of a hip problem. Tryout offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer is expected to be on the field Sunday. These are the players on the Chiefs roster. Each one is designated as (DC) draft choice, (CFA) undrafted college free agent, (FA) first-year street free agents and (T) tryout players: …Read More!

Chiefs Wrap-Up Contracts With All Draft Picks

The Chiefs now have all nine of their draft choices under contract.

The team announced late Friday afternoon that first-round cornerback Marcus Peters, third-round wide receiver Chris Conley and third-round cornerback Steven Nelson signed contracts. That wraps up the entire 2015 NFL Draft class for the Chiefs.

In other roster moves on Friday, the Chiefs released tight end Brandon Barden and defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo.

They also signed undrafted college free agent defensive tackle Charles Tuaau out of Texas A&M-Commerce. Tuaau is 6-3½, 328 pounds and is a native of Hawaii. He played junior college ball at Riverside Community College in California and then spent two years at the school that was formerly known as East Texas State University. Tuaau played in 23 games, with 86 total tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 17 sacks. In two years at Riverside C.C., he had 93 total tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. He was timed in 5.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, with 24 repetitions in the bench press at 225 pounds, a 24.5-inch vertical jump.

The Chiefs have now signed 21 rookies to their roster.

A Busy Weekend Ahead At The Sports Complex

The Truman Sports Complex neighbors will be very active this weekend with the Royals hosting the New York Yankees, and the Chiefs staging their rookie mini-camp at the team’s facility.

The draft choices, college free agents and tryout players will check in on Friday and then have three days of practices and meetings, ending on Monday afternoon. They’ll return eight days later for the first OTA session in the off-season program.

All nine draft choices should take part in some portion of the mini-camp. So far the Chiefs have announced 11 undrafted rookie free agents that have been signed. There will likely be another 20 to 25 players participating on a tryout basis.

Draft choices

With graduation ceremonies going on this weekend around the country there could be a practice or two missed by draft choices. Otherwise all nine are expected on the field. Here they are with the uniform numbers they’ve been assigned. On defense it will be cornerbacks Marcus Peters (22) and Steven Nelson (20), linebackers Ramik Wilson (53) and D.J. Alexander (57) and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99). Offensively, it’s center Mitch Morse (61), wide receivers Chris Conley (17) and Da’Ron Brown (4) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (80). …Read More!

Chiefs Sign 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents

Although the Chiefs have not announced the signing of undrafted rookie free agents, the NFL’s personnel report for Monday listed 10 players signed by the Chiefs.

The biggest name among those 10 was Mississippi State University cornerback Justin Cox. Before he was kicked off the team back on November 21st when he was arrested and charged with domestic violence. He played both safety and cornerback during his college career at East Mississippi Community College and Miss. State.

Also part of the group is defensive lineman David Irving, who was kicked off the Iowa State University football team last April after he was arrested in two different incidents including a domestic violence case. He’s quite a physical specimen, standing just a tick under 6-8, weighing 273 pounds and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds with a 38-inch vertical jump. …Read More!

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