The Chiefs made history holding the 11th overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft.
By using the pick to select USC guard Brad Budde, the Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to draft a father/son duo in the first round. Budde’s father, Chiefs Hall of Famer Ed Budde, was a first round selection of the Chiefs in the 1963 AFL Draft.
“Crazy Ed,” as Brad often called his father, was part of a Chiefs draft class that included fellow Chiefs Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Jerrel Wilson and Dave Hill. It was Kansas City’s ’63 draft class that helped shaped the team’s run of championships including a Super Bowl IV victory over the Vikings seven seasons later.
As for Budde’s son, Brad was a recognized member of Kansas City’s athletic scene long before he followed his father’s footsteps with the Chiefs. He had been a star at Rockhurst High School, and went on to become an All-American at Southern Cal.
Budde’s return to Kansas City was celebrated loudly, having once been a water boy at Chiefs Training Camp in the 1960s. It was the beginning of what looked to be a picture-perfect match.
“It’s a dream come true,” Budde told the media in a post-draft conference call. “I’ve always wanted to make my home in Kansas City and be near the people and the organization I grew up with. It’s really a classy place.”
Looking back, perhaps the hype of Budde’s arrival was too high and even a little unfair. Brad spent eight seasons in Kansas City and made 80 starts for the Chiefs, but was generally considered an on-field disappointment following his trumpeted arrival.
Les Miller, then the Chiefs director of player personnel, said that Budde’s bloodline and previous ties to the organization didn’t play into his high selection on draft day.
“Brad Budde is the finest offensive guard coming out in this year’s draft, and that was the only reason we selected him,” Miller told members of the press. “He was certainly selected because of our ratings and feelings toward Brad as a football player.”
The Chiefs rated Budde as the second-best offensive lineman on their board. The top ranking went to Budde's college teammate, future Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, who was selected third overall by Cincinnati.
Even then, it was still a bit of a surprise when Budde fell to the Chiefs at No. 11.
“It took several things falling into place that made it happen,” Chiefs GM Jim Schaaf said in a press conference following Budde’s selection.
“I think the early trade (San Francisco traded the No. 2 pick to the Jets), and a couple of other surprise picks like Curtis Dickey to Baltimore (5th overall) and Curtis Greer to St. Louis (6th overall) kept Brad in there for us. We were just in the right place for what we needed.”
The Chiefs had made it an offseason priority to improve the offensive line, but Budde didn’t start as a rookie.
However, by 1981 Budde became a regular starter and the Chiefs averaged 165.0 rushing yards per game to finish with a 9-7 record. It was Kansas City’s first winning season since 1973.
Accompanying Budde on the offensive line was Jack Rudney at center, Tom Condon at the opposite guard post and Matt Herkenhoff and Charlie Getty at tackle. Outside of Budde, the rest of the team’s offensive line had been together since the ’77 season.
Budde remained a starter for the Chiefs through the 1986 season, but missed all of ’87 with an abdominal injury. The injury signaled the beginning of the end for Budde in Kansas City.
A rift between Budde and new head coach Frank Gansz developed prior to the ’87 season when Budde decided to forgo the Chiefs offseason program to train on his own in California. Budde injured his abdomen during his first training camp under Gansz and was released in February of 1988.
Budde’s release signaled the end of a family tradition. A Budde had been part of the franchise for 22 of its first 25 years in Kansas City.
Off the field, Budde was an integral part of the Kansas City community. He and his wife Nicky dedicated their community work to counseling abused children. In addition, Budde’s rookie contract included a unique clause that established a scholarship fund at Rockhurst High School.