A Final HOF Fling … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

From Canton, Ohio … River Falls, Wisconsin and points in between
It’s time to put history to bed and get back to the business of the now. So this will be our last visit to what was a wonderful weekend for Chiefs fans everywhere at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

From the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery opening to the long-overdue induction of Derrick Thomas there was a Kansas City feel everywhere in the middle of Ohio.

But the boys are still in the northwoods, pulling together the team for the 2009 season, and after this screed, we will return to giving you the best camp coverage around. Check us out late Monday morning with a practice update

Until then, we’ve got some other tidbits, stories and notes from a whirlwind weekend in Canton.

Somebody at the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a lot of pull.

Or maybe it was the fact that so many members of the Hall now watch the annual induction ceremonies from the ultimate skybox.

All day Saturday, rain fell on Canton. It wasn’t a heavy rain, just a constant drip, drip, drip that had everyone scrambling for umbrellas and ponchos to take to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Fawcett Stadium. There wasn’t any chance the rain was going to cancel things; it was just going to make the crowd very wet and uncomfortable.

And then, just minutes before the ceremony started, the sun came out for the first time that day. The clouds parted and the setting sun lit up the western sky and almost as if on cue, the induction ceremony started.

That my friend is the power of football.

Just like all the other events surrounding the NFL, the Hall of Fame weekend just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I was trying to recall the first time I was in Canton for an induction ceremony and I think it had to be sometime in the 1980s. Then, the induction speeches were held on the front steps of the Hall of Fame, which is smack up against I-77. With all the speeches you could hear the traffic flying past. Sometimes the traffic became part of the atmosphere, especially when some of those Steelers from the great teams in the 1970s were inducted and the Terrible Towel Nation showed up in great numbers.

People used to sit in folding chairs in the small triangle area around the steps and the ceremony took place in early afternoon, usually under a broiling sun. It wasn’t on live TV and after the busts were awarded, everybody went their separate ways. Sometimes a group would go to lunch together.

Now, it’s an event. The ceremonies moved inside Fawcett Stadium, which is right next to the Hall. It’s a high school football stadium that is renovated a little bit more each year to make it a suitable site for Sunday night’s Hall of Fame pre-season game. The sound of traffic is blocked by the giant stage where the Hall of Famers sit during the ceremony. And now it’s done at night, and as usual television runs the show. When the ceremony is over, the parties start and they are now held in big tents right on the grounds of the Hall.

Sharron Hunt Munson had a great story to tell about the day her father was inducted back in 1972. Sharron was just a kid at the time and they got up that morning and took part in the Hall of Fame parade through the streets of Canton. Afterwards, they went back to the hotel where Lamar insisted his daughter take a nap before they went to the ceremony. “This was one of the biggest days of his life and he was worried about me getting tired,” Sharron said. “That was my Dad.”

One story I did not know: after D.T.’s auto accident and his move to a Miami hospital he had many visitors in the days before he passed away. One was a fellow member of the class of 2009, Bruce Smith.

“I went down there to see him and when I got there, he was trying out this wheelchair and he was racing down the hall and he still had that big smile on his face,” Smith said Friday at the Nitschke Luncheon. “But it just broke my heart to see him that way. We had a good visit and then a couple days later, he was gone. I still can’t believe that.

“I miss him.”

– After the ceremony was over, the guy walking on air was Carl Peterson. The Chiefs former President-GM did a very good job with his presentation speech, but there was some anxiety in preparation. Lori Peterson said her husband asked her to leave their hotel room Saturday afternoon so he could practice his speech alone. “He said go to a museum, go somewhere, just go,” Lori said.

– Former Chiefs head coach Paul Wiggin and his wife Carolyn were in Canton. Wiggin has “retired” from the personnel department of the Vikings. He still works as a “consultant, whatever that means,” Wiggin said. They were there to celebrate Randall McDaniel’s enshrinement; McDaniel played most of his career with the Vikings. There are few finer men in the game of football than Paul Wiggin. There are few finer men anywhere than Wig.

– OK, so I found myself agreeing with Jason Whitlock and that really scared me. In his column from Canton that appears in Sunday’s Kansas City Star, he called D.T.’s the equivalent of the Chiefs Lombardi Trophy for the success of the 1990s. The team never got a chance to play for the real Lombardi Trophy, let alone touch one, despite a decade with over 100 victories and seven trips to the playoff. So the achievement of the catalyst behind those teams making the Hall of Fame will have to do as recognition of the second most successful era in franchise history.

– Here’s a gossip tidbit for you. Former Chiefs K Nick Lowery showed up for the induction ceremony from his home in Arizona. He brought a date. Now, generally those that got to know Lowery during his time kicking for the Chiefs know that he tended to date women much younger than himself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it just seemed his dates always had a curfew and homework to get done.

Well Lowery showed up in Canton with a young lady named Jessi Colter. If you are a country music fan, let me tell you that yes, it was that Jessi Colter, the widow of country music legend Waylon Jennings.

But natch, here’s the kicker: Jessi’s looking pretty good for being 62 years old. That’s nine years older than Nick the Kick!

There’s your gossip fix for the year.

– So who is the next Chiefs player to be honored with a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Now remember that players do not go in as members of a certain franchise; they go into the Hall as members of a class. Derrick Thomas’ bust will be displayed with the other members of his class, not with the previous members of the Chiefs who earned enshrinement.

No matter that, the next player who spent time with the Chiefs to go in will probably be Willie Roaf. While he will gain induction due to his career in New Orleans far more than Kansas City, he’s the next guy to have a legitimate shot. Roaf comes due in 2011.

The next year Will Shields will become eligible. Of course, some time in the future Tony Gonzalez will also find his way to Canton.

The Seniors Committee of the Board of Selectors will meet in several weeks to pick two candidates for induction in 2010. That’s how both Hank Stram (2003) and Emmitt Thomas (2008) found their way to the Hall. Their honors make the odds very slim that another member of the Chiefs organization will be put up for possible induction any time soon.

But the names that still float through the seniors committee are Otis Taylor, Ed Budde, Johnny Robinson and Jim Tyrer.

– That new Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is a helluva guy. His defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham needed to be at D.T.’s induction ceremony. Those two shared a special bond; the whole Cunningham family viewed Derrick as part of them.

But Cunningham is now Schwartz’s defensive coordinator with the Lions and of course they are in training camp. Gunther wasn’t going to leave his current team to honor his former player, until Schwartz insisted. The head coach told his coordinator in no uncertain terms that he was going to Canton.

So a member of the Lions front office drove Gun to Canton and back, a round trip of approximately 400 miles.

– Of the five players inducted on Saturday, D.T. was the only one who played his whole career for one team. The others – Randall McDaniel, Rod Woodson, Bob Hayes and Bruce Smith – all finished their time in the NFL with teams that were not the franchise they started with.

Of course, Thomas’ career ended early because of his death. What would have happened if he lived? Could D.T. have worn the uniform of another team? Would he had pulled a Neil Smith and gone to the Broncos? How about Thomas finishing up with the silver and black?

“Rest assured, I can’t imagine any way something like that would have happened,” said Carl Peterson.

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

 

BRONCOS – placed DL J’Vonne Parker on the injured reserve list (knee).

BROWNS – lost WR Syndric Steptoe for the seasons with a shoulder injury; signed OL Fred Weary (Texans).

FALCONS – signed WR Roddy White to a new contract, ending his holdout.

RAMS – WWR Donnie Avery suffered a foot injury during a Friday practice and should be out four to six weeks.

TEXANS – placed RB Jeremiah Johnson on the injured-reserve list (shoulder).

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

 

On August 10, 1991 the Chiefs beat the New York Jets 19-10 in a pre-season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. With a crowd of 52,935 watching, the Chiefs saw QB Mark Vlasic and WR Tim Barnett hook up for a pair of scores from 30 and 77 yards. The Chiefs also got a safety when the Jets illegally batted a fumble in the end zone and there was a 44-yard FG from K Nick Lowery. Barnett finished the game with five catches for 127 yards. The Chiefs defense had three interceptions and four sacks of New York quarterbacks.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

 

Born on August 10, 1959 in San Jose, California was DL Kit Lathrop. He joined the Chiefs for the 1986 season out of the USFL, where he played for the Chicago Blitz (1983), Arizona Wranglers (1984) and Arizona Outlaws (1985). Lathrop played in 16 games that one season with the Chiefs; he played the next season with the Washington Redskins.


12 Responses to “A Final HOF Fling … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 10, 2009  - Kiowa says:

    Thanks for all the great coverage of the Hall Of Fame weekend!! It was amazing to see how many people showed up for DT at the ceremonies. Carl did a great job with his speech and it for sure brought a bunch of tears to my eyes. Maybe one day we will see Derrion in a Chiefs uniform as well.

    GO CHIEFS GO!


  • August 10, 2009  - Don W says:

    I have to second Kiowa’s comment. Thanks Bob for the great coverage. I read Whitlock’s column and agree it was one of his better ones. I will, however, disagree with his comment that Derrick didn’t have the physical skills to make the HOF without the supporting cast. Did they slow down to give him the quickest first step? Against Seattle it wasn’t a team 7 sacks. His called safety, “Here I come, try to stop me” and they couldn’t. The “KC Strip” – which one of them taught him that move? Oh and I don’t recall in any recitations of the story, their presence during the workout at Alabama where the coaches couldn’t wear DT out. DT had the physical skills to be a star on any team. Whitlock had a good full cup of a column, too bad he spilled over a bit with his hyperbole.

    Bob, thanks again and I’m looking forward to the resumption of the training camp updates.


  • August 10, 2009  - Chiefs News from the Overnight 8/10 says:

    [...] A Final HOF Fling … Monday Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz [...]


  • August 10, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Real Rin ® :cool: daddy-o sez –

    “the Hall of Fame weekend just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

    - sounds as if the Pro Football Hall of Fame grew up just like the first AFL/NFL World Championship Game to become the sum of its parts & more, known today as “The Superbowl”.

    - – - – -

    “After the ceremony was over, the guy walking on air was Carl Peterson.”

    - MAN – but it was GREAT to see and yes hear Carl Peterson again. We fans of the Chiefs were indeed blessed to have him there – all of KC was and is behind you Carl!

    - – - – -

    “OK, so I found myself agreeing with Jason Whitlock and that really scared me.”

    - Rin thought he agreed with another blogger once but twas just narrative reflection mine own quote the larcenous guise an charlatan perpetrator, Rin mistaken but as always ne’er wrong…

    - – - – -

    “the names that still float through the seniors committee are Otis Taylor, Ed Budde, Johnny Robinson and Jim Tyrer.”

    - all deserving order of merit Robinson/Tyrer, then Taylor/Budde AND Jerrel Wilson. In fact, minimum the first two for certain should have gone in long before Derrick Thomas.

    A punter may never make the HOF – ridiculous for they win or lose games via their knack or lack – but if JW doesn’t ever make it and Ray Guy does, then the election process is F-R-A-U-D.

    For all the Guy ga-ga that is sung as his hang time blah blah blah, Wilson has a better gross AND net average than does Guy, the latter stat affirmation that those punt returners had less success against Wilson than Guy (return yards, touchbacks etc. all a measuring stick- so hang time for Ray by all measure being a side note and not a chorus. Others too who played before Guy were better than him based on record/stat, but that’s ‘Scottenheimer’ under the bridge.

    :lol:


  • August 10, 2009  - MadJew says:

    Don W, I believe that the talent level and play of the players around DT, or any Hall of Fame player for that regard, is what helped him to be inducted in the HoF. I’ve noticed many times on DT’s sacks that a nose guard (Maas or Saleamua) were taking double teams so Neil and Derrick could get to the QB. DT was great because he had Neil Smith on the other end and vice versa. Joe Montana won all those Super Bowls because he had a tremendous amount of talent at all positions on offense and some good to great defenses with the Niners. He didn’t have the same talent on offense with the Chiefs or else he could have won another SB. The defense was championship caliber. John Elway is one of the few QBs, in my opinion, that could win games without much of a supporting cast but he still couldn’t win a SB until all the pieces were in place. There are not too many players in the HoF that came from horrible teams…Barry Sanders comes to mind. They needed someone else to help take the heat off of themselves and let them shine.


  • August 10, 2009  - MadJew says:

    Thanks for the great updates Bob, we really appreciate it! That’s a funny story about Nick the Kick. I remember when I was Central Missouri State in the early 80s and he and some other Chiefs would come down to Warrensburg and hit on “our” coeds. We didn’t like that too much lol


  • August 10, 2009  - Don W says:

    MadJew, I’ll concede your excellent point that any HOF enshrinee benefitted from supporting players that allowed them to shine, or maybe shine brighter. That said, and maybe it comes down to agree to disagree, I think Derrick had the physical attributes to shine regardless of setting or team.


  • August 10, 2009  - CK says:

    Nobody ever had a first step like DT. He made our defense look great.

    I wouldn’t have any idea what witlack wrote in the kcstar, I never read him. Joe P does a good job and I read him. But my first read everyday is Bob.


  • August 10, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    “Nobody ever had a first step like DT”

    - except for at minimum former Chiefs LB Bobby Bell & Rams DE Deacon Jones – too, did so while playing on real grass & not artificial turf…

    :cool: daddy-o


  • August 10, 2009  - CK says:

    Bobby Bell was a great all around HOF OLB that could probably have played almost any position. He was better than DT in every way except pass rushing. Of course DT was asked to be a pass rusher his entire career. In that respect DT was the best there ever was.
    Deacon Jones? He used the head slap that is now illegal against O-Lineman that couldn’t use their hands like today. He also didn’t compete against all of Pro Football. He didn’t have to face the AFL, so he didn’t have to get sacks against Jim Tyrer, Ron Mix, Art Shell, etc.


  • August 10, 2009  - SG says:

    “- all deserving order of merit Robinson/Tyrer, then Taylor/Budde AND Jerrel Wilson. In fact, minimum the first two for certain should have gone in long before Derrick Thomas.”

    Have you started drafting the presentation statements and started circulating the contact info for the Seniors Committee for petitioning purposes?




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