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Way Back When: The Broncos and Chiefs and quarterbacks


The Denver Broncos travel this week to Kansas City to play the Chiefs, and the situation in the series is obviously at an unfortunate position for the Broncos. Every fan knows that there is a significant losing streak to Kansas City, and the smart money say it is unlikely to be reversed in this visit, but one never knows.

One thing that I have found interesting, and it is pretty obvious when you dig deep into the games, is that this series has been dominated by Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

The two teams began play as members of the American Football League in 1960, with the current Chiefs then playing as the Dallas Texans. They pounded the Broncos in six meetings before moving to Kansas City, and the total record between the two teams in the decade of the 1960s was 19-1, in favor of the Texans/Chiefs.

The quarterback for much of that run was Len Dawson, now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his head coach was fellow future Hall of Famer Hank Stram.

The Broncos simply were not equipped with the necessary players to compete, and the results showed that.

The next great quarterback to play in this series was John Elway, who at times used the Chiefs as his personal punching bag.

For a time, he was the king of the fourth-quarter comebacks (a statistic that I am proud to have created), and he had five of his comebacks against Kansas City.

Although it was not his intention, Elway seemed personally to defeat Kansas City head coach Marty Schottenheimer time after time, most notably in the divisional round of the 1997 NFL playoffs.

I well remember a regular season game in 1997 at Kansas City, when they held us late and then had a 54-yard field goal by Pete Stoyanovich to give Kansas City the win.

It meant Denver would be a wild card in the playoffs, but we were a wild card with future Hall of Famer John Elway. The playoff rematch was 14-10, Denver.

Of course, Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, and the Chiefs had good teams in that period. Good — but just not good enough.

Elway's torture of the Chiefs continued when he became the Broncos' general manager, as that was when he signed the greatest NFL free agent of all time, Peyton Manning. Another future Hall of Famer, Manning went 7-1 against Kansas City and took Denver to two Super Bowls, including an immortal victory in Super Bowl 50.

So now, Kansas City fans are ecstatic and Denver fans are down at recent series results, but it is easy to see why: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who looks to be on a clear Hall of Fame trajectory himself at this time.

As the longtime public relations chief for the Broncos, I have witnessed a lot of the history in this series. Over my 36 years in the industry, I did advance work in every NFL city, but my first was in Kansas City. And this year, for this game, I will be driving back to Kansas City to see the Broncos play the Chiefs.

This will be my 999th pro football game in person, spanning a period from 1964 to the present.

I am looking forward to the Arrowhead experience and to a potential Denver upset, but no matter what, my time in Arrowhead will span that first game in 1978 to this one.

I have counted myself as a proud Broncos employee in that span, and there is always room in the continuum of great rivalries and great quarterbacks for one more time.

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