FOXBOROUGH, MA – Several hours before Monday night’s kickoff in New England, Chiefs backup turned starting quarterback
On the opposite side of the 50-yard line, Patriots All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady will go through a similar routine. The glaring difference - other than the Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, endorsement deals, media attention and seemingly everything else that goes along with being Tom Brady – is that Brady will be going through this type of pre-game routine for the 153rd time of his career.
For Palko, it will be his first time he’s ever gone through pre-game warm-ups as an NFL starting quarterback.
“I try not to think about (the nerves),” Palko said. “I don’t know, I hope it doesn’t take long (too feel comfortable). I hope it happens when I get off the bus and before I take the suit and tie off. It’s something that’s going to be there and as a starting quarterback and as a professional, those guys in the locker room are looking at me to handle this like a professional as well.”
It’s been a long time coming for Palko, who has been part of six different teams in three different football leagues over the past five years.
When the Chiefs and Patriots kickoff on Monday Night Football, Palko will become the 14th quarterback to make the first start of his NFL career in a Chiefs uniform. The last to do so was Tyler Thigpen in 2008.
Here’s a look at quarterbacks who made their first NFL start in a Chiefs uniform.
Randy Duncan – September 24, 1961 at Oakland Raiders
W, 42-35: 1-of-3 passing for 47 yards with 1 TD (121.5 rating)
Though Duncan made his initial NFL start, it was regular starter Cotton Davidson that saw the most time under center for the Dallas Texas. Davidson concluded his day with 23 pass attempts compared to Duncan’s three.
When the Texans traded for future Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson the next season, the move would prompt Duncan to retire. He made two starts for the ’61 Texas.
Duncan was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers out of the University of Iowa, but chose to play in Canada before embarking on his NFL career. He’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Eddie Wilson – November 17, 1963 at Boston Patriots
T, 24-24: 20-of-32 passing for 258 yards with 2 TDs (108.6 rating)
Wilson served as Len Dawson’s backup man for three years, but was called on for a starting assignment start just once. He’d later make a start for the Boston Patriots in 1965.
Pete Beathard – October 10, 1965 at Denver Broncos
W, 31-23: 13-of-22 passing for 214 yards (91.9 rating)
Beathard, who won a national championship at USC in 1962, was a first-round choice of the Chiefs in the 1964 NFL Draft. He’d make two starts for the Chiefs before being traded to the Houston Oilers for QB Jackie Lee in 1967.
Beathard quarterbacked the Oilers to the AFL Championship Game in ’67 and led Houston to an AFL playoff berth during the 1969 season as well.
Mike Livingston – October 5, 1969 at Denver Broncos
W, 26-13: 14-of-27 passing for 214 yards (78.3 rating)
Livingston, a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 1968, started six games in place of injured starter Len Dawson during Kansas City’s World Championship season. The Chiefs won all six games that Livingston started.
Waiting behind Dawson for eight seasons, Livingston became the Chiefs full-time starter in 1976. He started 75 games for the Chiefs from 1968-79.
Tony Adams – December 12, 1975 at Cleveland Browns
L, 40-14: 13-of-31 passing for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT (53.3 rating)
Originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1973, Adams made his first of seven career starts with the Chiefs in 1975. Adams’ years on the gridiron included stints with the Chiefs and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, where he was named Rookie of the Year in 1979. After a five-year absence from professional sports, Adams was called back into action by the Minnesota Vikings in 1987 - a move rarely seen in the sports world.
Steve Fuller – September 16, 1979 at Houston Oilers
L, 20-6: 11-of-27 passing for 138 yards with 4 INTs (17.7 rating)
Fuller, a first-round pick out of Clemson, took over the reigns as the Chiefs starting quarterback in Week Two of his rookie season. Mike Livingston was the Chiefs Opening Day starter that season. After his tenure with the Chiefs, Fuller was one of 10 Bears players feature in the 1985 “Super Bowl Shuffle” video.
Bill Kenney – December 7, 1980 at Pittsburgh Steelers
W, 31-14: 12-of-18 passing for 142 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT (104.4 rating)
Kenney was selected 333rd overall by the Dolphins in the 1978 NFL Draft, giving him the title “Mr. Irrelevant” as the final pick in the draft. Though he wouldn’t appear in a game with Miami, Kenney made 77 starts with the Chiefs from 1980-88. Kenney’s three successful starts in place Steve Fuller during the ’80 season helped him take over as the Chiefs starting quarterback in 1981.
In 1983 Kenney led the NFL with 346 completions to establish a then-Chiefs record. He also threw for a franchise-best 4,348 yards that season which currently ranks second in team annals only to Trent Green’s 4,591 passing yards in 2005.
Todd Blackledge – September 2, 1984 at Pittsburgh Steelers
W, 37-27: 19-of-36 passing for 170 yards and 1 TD (75.0 rating)
Blackledge, the Chiefs first-round pick in 1983, was held off by Bill Kenney for the starting quarterback job as a rookie, but became Kansas City’s Opening Day starter by his second season. He’d go on to make 24 starts for the Chiefs over the course of the next four seasons.
One of six quarterbacks selected in the first-round of the ’83 draft, Blackledge was part of the esteemed “Year of the Quarterback” draft alongside John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Ken O’Brien and Tony Eason. As the second of the six quarterbacks to go off the draft board, Blackledge is widely regarded as one of the Chiefs biggest draft day busts.
Matt Stevens – October 4, 1987 at Los Angeles Raiders
L, 35-17: 14-of-25 passing for 162 yards with 1 TD (89.1 rating)
Stevens, undrafted out of UCLA, was part of the Chiefs replacement squad during the 1987 NFL strike. He made two starts.
Doug Hudson – October 18, 1987 vs. Denver Broncos
L, 26-17: 0-of-1 passing (39.6 rating)
Hudson, the Chiefs seventh round pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, was part of the Chiefs replacement squad during the ’87 NFL strike. He recorded the only statistic of his career when he was hit in the end zone and fumbled while attempting to handoff the football. Hudson recovered the ball for a safety and was replaced the next series by Matt Stevens. Hudson would never see another NFL snap.
Frank Seurer – November 15, 1987 vs. New York Jets
L, 16-9: 13-of-23 passing for 233 yards and 3 INTs (51.8 rating)
Seurer, originally a supplemental draft pick of the Seahawks in 1984, started two games for the Chiefs during the strike-shortened 1987 season. He might have been the team’s starter all season had a spring car accident not caused him to miss training camp and half the ’87 campaign. Seurer tore ligaments in his left knee and dislocated his right hip in the accident.
A record-setting quarterback for the Kansas Jayhawks, Seurer was cut in 1988 as Steve DeBerg and Bill Kenney battled for the Chiefs starting job. Before his time in Kansas City, Seurer was the backup to Steve Young for the USFL’s Los Angeles Express form 1984-85.
Brodie Croyle – November 18, 2007 at Indianapolis Colts
L, 13-10: 19-of-27 passing for 169 yards with 1 TD (99.2 rating)
Croyle, the Chiefs third round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, took over as starter for Damon Huard midway through the 2007 campaign. He’d start six games that season and was named Kansas City’s Opening Day starter in 2008.
Hampered by injury throughout his career, Croyle went 0-10 as a starter from 2007-10. He departed Kansas City in 2011 on an expiring contract and is currently a free agent.
Tyler Thigpen – September 21, 2008 at Atlanta Falcons
L, 38-14: 14-of-36 passing for 128 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs (23.8 rating)
Thigpen, a seventh-round pick of the Vikings in 2007, began the 2008 campaign as Kansas City’s third-string quarterback, but was forced into action after Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard both went down to injury. He started 11 games for the Chiefs that season, compiling a 1-10 record as a starter.
Traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2009 for a fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Thigpen has made one start since his departure from Kansas City. He’s currently a backup for the Buffalo Bills.