Fifty years ago this month, yours truly was not even born. Nevertheless, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in the World Championship of Professional Football on January 11, 1970, which was the final matchup between the American Football League and National Football League before the merger between the two adversaries was completed after four years. The Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl IV was also notable for being the first franchise to win a championship with having African-Americans comprising the majority of the team.
Late owner Lamar Hunt, founder of the AFL, and head coach Hank Stram earned plaudits for having a broadminded approach to the procurement of talent by employing the services of Lloyd Wells who is said to have played an integral role in finding players from historically black colleges and universities. This development helped the AFL to fortify its rosters with talent to the point where it was almost an even playing field between the NFL and AFL. When the salaries of these players began to escalate, the two loggerheads were left with little choice but to create a merger in 1996 which led to a Common Draft and the institution of a championship game that became known as the Super Bowl.
On Sunday, the Chiefs were finally able to secure their return to the Super Bowl after defeating the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game that has Lamar Hunt’s name on it after a 50-hiatus the day for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. In that spirit of their predecessors, Kansas City will take its diverse roster of talent and see what the talented, young quarterback Patrick Mahomes can do as they meet the San Francisco 49ers in Miami for Super Bowl LIV.
Moreover, the exploits of Mahomes and his improvisational skills in throwing the football against the vaunted 49ers’ defense should lead to a compelling championship game compared to the hypnopompic quality of Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta. The dichotomy in styles of a prolific aerial assault and a balanced attack will provide even neutral observers reasons to watch the contest besides the commercials alone.
If the Chiefs manage to become champions after five decades, head coach Andy Reid may be the happiest Chief of them all. Reid’s coaching career commenced approximately 12 years following the Chiefs’ last involvement in the Big Game as a graduate assistant at BYU. He has been involved in many areas in college and professional football over the decades and is seen by many as being quite deserving of obtaining the ultimate victory as head coach, but San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan has other ideas such as redeeming himself from the 28-3 debacle from his days in Atlanta.
Of course, few people expect Reid to have a microphone attached to him as the late Stram did in 1970. Reid’s personality is seen as being more akin to the stereotypes of the Midwest by some, yet he will garner a bit more élan if he has an opportunity to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy on February 2nd. Somehow the Lombardi and Hunt trophies should be a great sight adjacent to each other.