Football 2016: Season preview featuring Chiefs, Mizzou, K-State, KU and high schools

The Kansas City Star

Special to The Star

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.

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.

Editor's note: Nearly 46 years ago, Chiefs were kings of the world

Chiefs and The NFL

Sam Mellinger: Three men with a singular goal: Bring the Chiefs a championship

Terez A. Paylor: Alex Smith’s mission: prove everybody wrong

Blair Kerhoff: Chris Jones: Big player, big personality, and rookie who’s making his hometown proud

Mellinger: Three reasons for optimism and pessimism about the 2016 Chiefs season

Paylor: Pressure is mounting on the Chiefs’ Dee Ford to deliver

Paylor: A ‘Superfly’ preview of the Chiefs’ 2016 season, with appearances by ‘Shaft’ and ‘The Mack’

The case for, against each NFL team hoisting the 2016 Lombardi Trophy

Super droughts: The last time each NFL franchise reached the Super Bowl

2016 NFL predictions: Chiefs will contend but Pats, Packers are TP’s Super picks

AFC West champions? TP predicts wins, losses on the Chiefs’ 2016 NFL schedule

Mizzou, K-State, KU and colleges

Tod Palmer breaks down the 2016 Missouri Tigers

Palmer: Battle-tested Drew Lock seeks to unlock potential

Mizzou football: Season preview and game-by-game predictions

SEC blitz: Predicting the order of finish and MVPs

Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City still seeking return to national college football spotlight in post-realignment era

Kellis Robinett breaks down the 2016 Kansas State Wildcats

Robinett: K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz is back after a season that lasted one play

K-State football: Season preview and game-by-game predictions

Kerkhoff: The K-State conundrum: What happens when Bill Snyder retires?

Jesse Newell breaks down the 2016 Kansas Jayhawks

Newell: David Beaty takes over KU’s play-calling despite obvious risks

KU football: Season preview and game-by-game predictions

Big 12 blitz: Predicting the order of finish and MVPs

NCAA blitz: Major award, bowl and College Football playoff predictions

Area colleges: Northwest Missouri, Baker are favorites in MIAA, Heart

High schools

Sam McDowell: It takes a special coach and message to motivate football players when losses mount

Kansas City-area’s top 15 high school football recruits

Kansas City-area high school football schedules

Link to Kansas City-area high school football scores and summaries for every game this season

Eastern Kansas League preview

Sunflower League preview

Suburban Conference Gold Division preview

Suburban Conference Red Division preview

Suburban Conference White Division preview

Suburban Conference Blue Division preview

Five questions entering the Missouri high school football season