With photos of Chiefs greats featured prominently inside one of Kansas City’s most historic buildings, talk quickly turned to championships Tuesday afternoon inside Union Station.
How far away are the Chiefs from competing for an AFC Championship?
A Super Bowl title?
When might we see a parade wind through downtown and, ultimately, convene at Union Station?
Key members of the team’s front office were on hand to answer those questions and more as the franchise kicked off a season-long celebration of spending 50 years in Kansas City.
“What I can say passionately is that I want to win a Super Bowl,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said standing underneath the chandeliers and historic six-foot wide clock that hang from the Station’s central arch.
“It’s been a long time since Kansas City has enjoyed the celebration that goes with winning a Super Bowl and I desperately want to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy and then the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which my dad named.”
Part of the Chiefs 50 years in Kansas City celebration will include some of the club’s Pro Football Hall of Famers going on tour across the region with the Super Bowl IV trophy.
Fans will be able to chat with historic members of the franchise, get their photos taken with the trophy and even submit their own photo memories for use in a special tribute at the Chiefs final home game on December 23rd.
“I’m always impatient,” Hunt said when asked to provide his own championship timeframe. “I want to win today and tomorrow, and it can never come soon enough. I’ve also been around the business long enough to know that you have to have some patience and if you lose your patience it will result in mistakes that set you back.”
A handful of franchise icons unofficially kicked off the 50 years in Kansas City celebration Sunday afternoon with the Chiefs Rookie Class.
Bobby Bell, who will serve as one of the featured Hall of Famers on the Chiefs Fan Tour, was joined by Super Bowl IV teammates Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Jan Stenerud and Emmitt Thomas at the 2012 Rookie Class Luncheon.
“Some of our Hall of Famers were able to speak to the rookies,” Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said. “Listening to those players talk about their experiences, about playing for the Chiefs and about the game of football, hopefully the rookies were listening and learned something.”
Crennel’s five Super Bowl rings and six conference titles provide him with more championship experience than anyone currently working inside the franchise.
He also declined to set a time frame for returning the Chiefs to championship status, but noted his high expectations for this year’s team.
“As you look at the league, we’ve all seen teams that we’ve said are going to win the Super Bowl and then they don’t even make the playoffs,” Crennel said. “Then we’ve seen teams that nobody thinks are going to make it to the Super Bowl end up making it to the Super Bowl. I go into it with the thought that if I can do a good job and be competitive, and then we are going to have a chance to win. Then, if we win enough of them, who knows where we’re going to go?
“Our goal is to win the division and make it to the playoffs and then see how far we can go. We’d like to go to the Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl. If we can do it here during the 50th year in Kansas City celebration, it would be great to do it on that anniversary. But you go into it with your team working hard, fighting hard and playing hard, and then you see what happens.”
Crennel went on to note that the skill players returning from season-ending injuries will play a big factor in helping this year’s team contend for a division championship.
He'd also go on to say that the overall talent of the Chiefs skill position players rivals that of any team he's been associated with.
“I think it’s still a relatively young team, but for the first time a number of those players have two and three years under their belt and they’re just starting to get to the prime of their careers,” Hunt added. “They’re becoming leaders. That’s what we’ve needed and have maybe lacked the past two or three years. I’m very optimistic about this season.”