They don’t make cornerbacks like “Rock” anymore.
Standing at 5-9, 185 lbs, Kevin Ross was never afraid to put his helmet in the middle of an opponents’ chest. Ross was a hitter and nicknamed appropriately.
He was often times the most underrated performer of Kansas City’s dismantling defenses from the early 1990s. Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith often the show with their gaudy sack totals, while players like Dan Saleaumua, Bill Maas, Joe Phillips and Deron Cherry were natural fan favorites.
Then, of course, there was four-time Pro Bowler Albert Lewis playing opposite of Ross at the other cornerback position.
“I don’t want to disrespect anybody else that has played, but I don’t think you’ll find a better secondary in the history of that franchise,” Ross said.
Tall and lanky, Lewis was the ultra-athletic cover corner that could run stride-for-stride with anyone on the field. Ross was the complete opposite in most every way. He tried to intimidate opponents with physical harassment from start to finish.
“I couldn’t do the same things that Albert did,” Ross recalled. “He’s 6’3 and I’m 5’9. I didn’t try to pattern my game after him too much because his body type is totally different than mine. My game was a lot more physical than his and that’s what I banked on.
“I didn’t have blazing speed at that particular time and I never depended on my speed. I depended on getting my hands on you – pretty much just trying to punish you each and every time you caught the ball.”
Though opposites, the pair struck a connection on and off the field. Paired with an elite pass rush, the Chiefs became a defense near impossible to throw the football against.
“There wasn’t a series that we didn’t sit down on the sidelines together,” Ross said. “We told each other every time what kind of release this guy had, what they were trying to do, what pattern he ran – every series we talked about everything that could ever happen against us.”
Paired community appearances, such as the widely popular Albert Lewis/Kevin Ross Youth Football Camp, would follow. For their on-field efforts, Lewis and Ross were ranked the 9th best cornerback tandem of all time by the NFL Network.
But while fans reminisce on Ross’ on-field impact, Ross immediately thought of the late Lamar Hunt when informed of his induction into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
“This whole thing really means a lot to be because, a lot of people don’t know the story, but what Lamar Hunt did for me and my family was unbelievable,” Ross said. “The year that we were playing the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the playoffs, my mother died and Lamar came to my mother’s funeral unannounced.
“Lamar brought our family flowers. He got limos and told me that I didn’t have to play in that game if I didn’t want to. That meant more to me that anything that ever happened to me with the Chiefs and it stays with me to this day.”
Ross thanked Hunt for the offer, but opted to make his post-season debut anyway.
When Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt called Ross about his induction last week, memories of Lamar have continued to run through the cornerback’s head.
“You just wanted to win for Lamar,” Ross said. “Another memory I have of Mr. Hunt was after we lost the 1993 AFC Championship Game in Buffalo. That was the first time I had ever seen him cry and really, really disappointed. I was hurting for him. I was hurting for myself, but I was really, really hurting for him.”
Clark Hunt will publicly announce Ross’ induction during a Saturday afternoon press conference at the Westin Crown Center prior to the 41st Annual 101 Awards.