At one of the initial organizational meetings of the American Football League in late '59 - before the teams even had any players or coaches - the AFL owners choose their team colors. Lamar Hunt desires Columbia Blue and Orange for his Dallas Texans franchise. But before Hunt or any other owner can make a selection, Houston's Bud Adams claims Columbia Blue for his Oilers franchise. Hunt reverts to Red and Gold for the Texans, which remains the primary color scheme for the Chiefs to this day.
The Texans take the field for the AFL's inaugural season in '60 sporting red helmets with gray facemasks. The helmet features the state of Texas in white with a gold star situated on Dallas. Home jerseys are solid red featuring white numerals, white "TV" numerals on the sleeves and white lettering, all trimmed in gold. Road jerseys are white with red numerals, red "TV" numerals on the sleeves and red lettering, all of which are bordered by thin gold trim. Both jerseys are a cloth design, featuring three-quarter sleeves with stitched "tackle twill" numerals and letters. The team wears white pants featuring vertical stripes of red, gold and red. Socks are red on top, white on the bottom with alternating stripes at the calf of white, red, gold, red and white. Although several minor changes are made to the stripe width over the years, the primary sock design remains relatively consistent to the present day.
The Texans move to Kansas City in '63. Hunt and head coach Hank Stram initially plan on calling the relocated team the "Kansas City Texans." However, general manager Jack Steadman wisely convinces the duo to change the franchise's nickname to "Chiefs." The club's uniform remains virtually unchanged, with the exception of the helmet logo. The state of Texas is replaced on the headgear by a design originally sketched by Hunt on a napkin. Hunt's inspiration for the interlocking "KC" design was the "SF" inside of an oval on San Francisco's helmets. Kansas City's overlapping initials appear inside a white arrowhead instead of an oval and are surrounded by a thin black outline. The result is one of the most distinctive helmets in all of football.
The most dramatic changes to the Chiefs uniform come in '68. Head coach Hank Stram prefers more red in the club's road attire and orders red pants to go with the team's white road jerseys. Stram asserts that the red pants will match the red numerals on the white road jerseys. While Stram's fashion sense is never in question, some in the organization theorize that the superstitious Stram really wants to part ways the white pants because the club lost Super Bowl I while wearing them. No matter the logic, the white pants are not seen again during the Stram era. The club's new red pants feature alternating vertical stripes of white, red, gold, red and white and are paired with predominantly white socks that feature striping of red, gold and red at the calf. Alterations are also made to the club's jerseys at this time. Sleeves are shortened from three-quarter length to their present-day short-sleeve status. Stripes are also introduced on the bottom of the sleeves, where they still reside. Red jerseys feature white, gold and white stripes on the sleeves, while the club's white jerseys receive red, gold and red stripes.
Following a victory in the AFL Championship Game, Stram orders new red jerseys to be worn in Super Bowl IV and they are delivered just days before the game. Stram also directs equipment manager Bobby Yarborough to have all the helmets repainted before the Super Bowl, but relents after players insist on wearing their "battle-scarred" headgear. The "AFL-10" patch worn on the left shoulder of Kansas City's jerseys in Super Bowl IV is the collaborative effort of AFL President Milt Woodard and longtime AFL fan Angelo Coniglio. During the entire '69 season, all NFL teams wear an "NFL-50" patch which commemorates the NFL's 50th Anniversary season. At the suggestion of Coniglio, Woodard counters by designing and implementing a patch of his own to celebrate the 10-year existence of the AFL, which is proudly worn by the Chiefs on behalf of the entire AFL in their 23-7 victory vs. Minnesota (1/11/70).
Following Super Bowl IV, the team's cloth jerseys give way to a more breathable mesh fabric. Heat-transfer numerals and letters replace sewn-on "tackle twill" characters. The style of the numerals and letters changes slightly. The characters decrease in size, while the gold trim around both the numerals and letters expands to become more visible. Jersey numerals remain this size before eventually returning to larger proportions in the early '80s.
The club's facemask changes from gray to white. A change in manufacturers results in a slightly smaller arrowhead logo on the helmet with a thicker black border compared to the design of the '60s.
The Chiefs wear a circular patch on their left upper chest bearing a gold eagle and the number 37 in memory of RB Joe Delaney who drowned on June 29, 1983 in Monroe, Louisiana after trying to save the lives of three youngsters.
The original eight American Football League teams all wear circular "Silver Anniversary" patches on the upper left chest of their jerseys commemorating the 25th anniversary of the AFL and their respective franchises. Kansas City's patch features the Chiefs helmet and the AFL logo.
The arrival of head coach Marty Schottenheimer signals the club's most dramatic uniform change in over 20 years. Schottenheimer asks and receives permission from Hunt to revert to back to white pants on the road, a "white-on-white" look that has not been utilized by the Chiefs since '67. White belts also return to the club's pants after using red belts at various periods of the '70s and '80s. Kansas City reintroduces the white pants at Denver (9/10/89) and maintains this look on the road through the '99 season.
A sticker bearing the American Flag adorns the back of all NFL helmets to honor troops fighting in the Gulf War. The NFL Shield becomes a standard part of all NFL uniforms, appearing on the back of helmets, on the "v" of jerseys and on the left hip of pants.
The club wears a black panel with the white initials "WWD" on the upper left chest of its jersey in memory of Director of Player Personnel Whitey Dovell, who passed away on May 11, 1992. The team also paints the number "86" on the field at Arrowhead Stadium to honor the memory of Hall of Fame DT Buck Buchanan, who passed away on July 16, 1992.
Solid fabric jerseys complete with "tackle twill" numerals and letters return, taking the place of mesh jerseys and heat-transfer characters. All NFL teams wear "NFL Diamond Anniversary" patches on their left upper chest in honor of the league's 75th season. The Chiefs also wear a "35th Anniversary" patch on their right upper chest in celebration of the franchise's 35th season. The patch features the AFL, Texans and Chiefs logos. It marks
the only time in team history the club has worn two different patches in the same season. The Chiefs also wear "Throwback" uniforms - replicas of the club's '63 attire - for games at Atlanta (9/18/94) and vs. St. Louis (9/25/94).
The club wears a "40th Anniversary" patch in honor of the franchise's 40th season. The patch features the AFL and Chiefs logos.
The Chiefs wear a circular sticker bearing the number "58" on the back of their helmets in memory of LB Derrick Thomas, who passed away on February 8, 2000. Ever mindful of Stram's legacy and the franchise's glory days, head coach Gunther Cunningham receives Hunt's blessing to revert back to the red pants on the road. The resurrected red pants debut in a 23-22 win at Denver (9/24/00) and remain a fixture of the club's road attire.
A sticker bearing the American Flag returns to the back of all NFL helmets following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The flag reappears on Chiefs helmets vs. the N.Y. Giants (9/23/01) and remains there to this day.
The Chiefs wear a "40th Anniversary in Kansas City" patch vs. Oakland (10/27/02), commemorating the franchise's 40th season in Mid-America. "The Scout" - Kansas City's most recognizable civic icon - is prominently featured on the patch along with Kansas City's downtown skyline. The NFL Equipment Shield replaces NFL Shield on jerseys and pants.
After the passing of Hunt on December 13th, the Chiefs utilize a helmet decal for the remainder of the season bearing the initials “LH” to honor the franchise’s Founder. Kansas City first wears the helmet decal at San Diego (12/17). The club also reverts to the white jersey/white pants combination for its final two regular season road games and its postseason contest at Indianapolis (1/6/07). The move is in part to honor Hunt, who appreciated the “classic” look of that uniform combination.
Clark Hunt commissions a patch that the Chiefs wore on their uniforms in 2007 to honor his father’s memory. The design of the patch is historically signficant. The patch prominently features the American Football League logo to serve as a reminder of Hunt’s formation of the AFL and the lasting impact the American Football League has made on the game of professional football. True to Hunt’s humble spirit, the letters “LH” are subtly displayed on the patch, symbolizing the fact that the Chiefs Founder always put the best interests of the league ahead of his own. The patch is affixed on the left chest of both Kansas City’s home and away jerseys, meaning this piece of woven symbolism will always be over the heart of every Chiefs player.
Note: Special thanks to Bobby Bell, Chiefs equipment manager Mike Davidson, Len Dawson, Rick Dean of the Topeka Capital-Journal, Bob Gretz of KCFX Radio, former Chiefs team photographer Rod Hanna, Lamar Hunt, former Chiefs equipment manager Bobby Yarborough and Chiefs photographer Hank Young for their research assistance.