Offensive linemen are notoriously anonymous. While left tackles represent whatever glamour the offensive line can gather, the offensive line is more often recognized as a unit, and the Kansas City Chiefs' line of the 1960s was one of the best of its era.
But Ed Budde, the team's left guard from 1963 to 1976, who passed away this week at the age of 83 at his home in Kansas City, was far from unknown to his contemporaries and to his fellow teammates.
By temperament and character, Budde was suited to play football. He came from a tradition where team qualities meant more than any personal reward.
He was, indeed, the best of his kind; embodying a formidable combination of physical and mental qualities. He was tough, resourceful, and inured to the cold that often swept through Missouri during the late fall and winter. He could stand his ground with any defensive lineman he faced and had the mobility to pull and sweep on command.
But beyond that, he had been through the trials of the early days of the American Football League after joining the club in its highly touted 1963 draft class which featured Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Jerrel Wilson and Dave Hill. He quickly reached the pinnacle of his profession as a member of two Super Bowl teams, including the club's title champion following the 1969 season.
Over a 14-year NFL career, Budde had the rare distinction in his team's 24-10 upset of the Oakland Raiders on October 20, 1968, to be named the American Football League's Offensive Player of the Week by the Associated Press, the first time an interior offensive lineman ever won the weekly award.
On that day, he was instrumental in making Head Coach Hank Stram's surprising T-formation offense work as the Chiefs rolled up 215 yards on the ground in the first half, and 111 yards of that behind Budde and tackle Jim Tyrer in 11 plays. Wendell Hayes dived over the duo for one touchdown, and Robert Holmes scored from the four-yard line on a sweep led by Budde working shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow guard Mo Moorman.
The old adage that football games are won up front was an accurate one on the days that Budde lined up at guard. "It's always the same formula," Hank Stram was known to repeatedly say. "Blocking and tackling. Budde's blocking at the point of attack could be devastating, and it certainly was against Oakland."
Budde's teammates often stood in awe of his play. "I've never seen a guard play like that," said Kansas City's right tackle Dave Hill after reviewing film of the Oakland game. "It was the best game an offensive lineman can have," offered tight end Fred Arbanas, a fellow Michigan State alum. "No guard can play like that."
Budde, always modest about his play, certainly deserved more praise for a lifetime of work at his profession. He achieved All-Pro status seven times beginning in 1963, and was named first team All-Pro twice by the Associated Press.
But perhaps his greatest achievement came when he was named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to its prestigious All-Time American Football League team. But as the years passed, he was repeatedly overlooked for his deserved place as a member of the Pro Football Hall of
Fame. Of all the Chiefs players down through the years who can claim consideration to be among the game's greatest, Budde's case remains the most legitimate.
Upon his retirement following the 1976 season, he continued his association with the franchise that drafted him and remained in the city in which he played. He was active in the NFL's national alumni affairs and became a founding member of the Chiefs Ambassadors, the ground-breaking alumni organization where he continued to work on behalf of the franchise with its teams' young players and was involved in a plethora of community projects.
Budde was inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1984.