Football 2012 Chiefs

Five gambles that didn’t pay off for the Chiefs

Updated: 2012-08-26T04:16:44Z

By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

1. Taking Blackledge

The Class of 1983 produced the greatest group of quarterbacks in NFL Draft history. John Elway went first to Denver by way of Baltimore. The Chiefs, with the seventh overall pick, bypassed Jim Kelly (14th), Tony Eason (15th), Ken O’Brien (24th) and Dan Marino (27th) and took Todd Blackledge, who had just led Penn State to the national championship. Kelly and Marino went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and even Eason took a team to the Super Bowl. Blackledge battled Bill Kenney for the starting role with the Chiefs and went 13-11 as a starter in parts of three seasons before he was traded to Pittsburgh. The Chiefs have not taken a quarterback in the first round since.

2. Crash landing

The Chiefs were coming off their first playoff appearance in 15 years in 1986, a season owner Lamar Hunt called a “Year of Challenge.” Two days after a first-round loss to the Jets, the club fired autocratic head coach John Mackovic and replaced him with popular special-teams coach Frank “Crash” Gansz, who had never been an NFL or major-college head coach. The Chiefs went 4-11 and 4-11-1 under Gansz, who was fired after the 1988 season.

3. Grbac over Gannon

The Chiefs faced a difficult decision in 1997 when quarterback Elvis Grbac, a free-agent signing that year, was injured after leading the team to an 8-2 record. Backup Rich Gannon went 5-1 in relief, winning his last five starts. But when Grbac was healthy, coach Marty Schottenheimer went back to Grbac, who struggled in a playoff loss at home to Denver. Gannon shared time with Grbac in 1998 before leaving as a free agent for Oakland, where he became league MVP in 2002 and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl.

4. Desperate measures

The Chiefs, under Schottenheimer, grew desperate and impatient to reach another Super Bowl for owner Lamar Hunt and signed a slew of veterans of questionable character during 1997-99. While wide receiver Andre Rison, linebacker Wayne Simmons, cornerback Mark McMillian, nose tackle Chester McGlockton and running back Bam Morris were productive players at first, they brought a negative culture that affected the locker room. Morris, who had previously served time on drug possession charges, was later arrested again.

5. Ryan Sims fiasco

Desperate for defensive help, the Chiefs selected tackle Ryan Sims of North Carolina with the sixth overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. There was some question whether Sims benefited from playing alongside Julius Peppers, the second overall pick, but North Carolina coach John Bunting, a former player for Dick Vermeil, recommended Sims. It turned out Sims could not play effectively, and he was let ago after the 2006 season. The Chiefs have spent the past six years looking for a top nose tackle, including their first-round pick this year, Dontari Poe.

| Randy Covitz, rcovitz@kcstar.com

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