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Sacco Sez: Historic notes on a storied rivalry with Kansas City

As I often tell our brethren at KUSA when we are taping a segment of the "Sideline Stories with Jim Saccomano" television show, the worst opponent for fresh stories is the one you play the most.

Hence, whenever the Broncos line up against an American Football Conference Western Division foe, as we are doing Christmas night, fans go into the game with a high level of knowledge about both teams.

So I thought we might have some frivolous fun by recalling some facts that are not commonly known, even by the most ardent fans.

So regarding the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, here are a few "Did you know?" items that might help some win Christmas bets with friends.

The Chiefs are the only team in the AFC West never to have changed their uniform colors.

The Broncos, meanwhile, are the only AFC West team never to have moved. The Chiefs moved from Dallas, the Chargers from Los Angeles and the Raiders to and then from Los Angeles.

When the Chiefs began play in 1960, it was as the Dallas Texans. But owner Lamar Hunt came to realize that his beloved Dallas would only support one football team, the cowboys, so he began to look for a place to move.

Kansas City Mayor Harold Roe Bartle reached out to him and they had amicable conversation, and the franchise moved to Kansas City without a nickname. Bartle was a commanding presence and larger than life figure and his nickname was 'The Chief.' And after looking at numerous possibilities including the Royals, Hunt decided they would go with the mayor's nickname for his role.

The AFL Western Division is the only NFL division today that has the same four franchises that it had when division play began in 1970.  Of course, Seattle was in the division for many years, but when the Seahawks moved back to the NFC (where they started play), it returned the AFC West to the original franchise membership, which began in 1960 and continues today.

The Broncos and Chiefs are the only two NFL teams to have horse and rider mascots, Thunder in Denver and Warpaint in Kansas City.

We all know that the Broncos have played in the Super Bowl an NFL-high eight times and are one of just nine franchises to have won it three times or more, but did you know that Lamar Hunt, the original owner of the Chiefs and founder of the AFL, gave the "Super Bowl" its name, based on a ball his daughter was bouncing around called a "super ball."

The Super Bowl was not officially tagged as such until Super Bowl III (Jets over the Colts).  The first two games were just NFL-AFC Championship Game I and II.

When the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV they had past and future Broncos connections on the team -- running back Wendell Hayes and nose tackle Curley Culp both started off in Denver, and Kansas City assistant coach John Beake would later have a 20-year career as general manager of the Broncos.

Incidentally, the Chiefs' quarterback for that Super Bowl win was future Hall of Famer Len Dawson, who has the very unusual distinction of being the seventh son of a seventh son. 

The shortest kickoff return touchdown ever against the Broncos came on Thanksgiving Day, 1969, when the Broncos were trying to claw their way back in an eventual 31-17 loss.

Denver had just scored to reduce the Chiefs' lead to 24-17 and Denver Head Coach Lou Saban opted for san onside kick.

That was certainly a viable strategy, except Broncos kicker Bobby Howfield bounced it right into the hands of one of the greatest athletes ever to play pro football, future Hall of Famer Bobby Bell.

Bell caught the ball in full stride and raced untouched to the Denver end zone.

Kansas City Head Coach Hank Stram used to say that Bell's skill set was such that he could have started at any position on the field on offense or defense, except for quarterback. And Stram pointed out that he only eliminated quarterback because of the extensive experience which was necessary at the position, and in which Bell was lacking.

So since the Broncos have played on Thanksgiving Day in Kansas City, playing there on a holiday is new to the current team but is already a part of history. 

And you never know what new chapters in the book will be played out this year on Christmas.

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