It resides behind thick glass within a towering concrete building in upper Manhattan.
It’s slightly more modest than most of its 49 counterparts: a ruby-red background and diamond-studded football surrounded by engraved yellow gold. In person, it almost resembles a high school class ring. But simplicity lends it a certain elegance.
Has it really been 46 years since the Chiefs last won a Super Bowl? Last played in a Super Bowl? Gazing at this sparkling display case inside NFL headquarters, featuring football’s most coveted jewelry, one is reminded that it has. Neighboring rings under glass at 345 Park Avenue include tonier versions crafted for multiple winners such as Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England and last season’s champion, division rival Denver.
This is the simple truth: Now that the Royals have won a World Series, the Chiefs — with all of their history and tradition and pride as one of the seminal outfits in the league — own not only the longest championship drought among Kansas City’s professional sports teams, but also one of the deepest chasms among the NFL’s 32 franchises.
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Fifteen teams have appeared in three or more Super Bowls. The Chiefs are one of six to have played in two. But since their last appearance, in Super Bowl IV on Jan. 11, 1970, at Tulane Stadium, no fewer than 26 organizations have at least played in a Super Bowl. The Chiefs are one of six teams, alongside the Browns, Lions, Jets, Jaguars and Texans, who have not.
In fact, only once have the Chiefs been so much as a win away.
But enough gloom. This year’s Star football section examines why some football experts believe this season could be different, starting with a committed owner, accomplished head coach and a quarterback now well-versed in his system, not to mention some exciting new faces in the locker room.
The theme of long-suffering teams and fans wanting more translates to our region’s major-college ranks, too. Mizzou has a new head coach in Barry Odom. K-State is helmed by one of the most respected men in the nation, Bill Snyder. And KU, well, David Beaty has his work cut out for him again, but even the smallest of steps would represent a gain in Lawrence.
Our assessment of the area’s 100-plus high schools is less critical — these are kids we’re talking about. But we do examine how coaches keep their troops motivated in programs that can never seem to get over the hump.
No, winning isn’t everything. Nor is it, as UCLA coach “Red” Sanders (and later Packers coach Vince Lombardi) famously said, the only thing.
But it beats losing. And most Kansas Citians will agree that it sure would be nice to see a new Chiefs ring added to that display case at NFL headquarters.
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