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Sixty Years in Kansas City: Struggles in the 70s

A look back in Chiefs history

This season represents the 60th year for the Chiefs in Kansas City. Over this season, we'll highlight some of the history of the franchise since Lamar Hunt officially announced on February 8, 1963, that his team was coming to town. This is Part Four of the series.

The move to Kansas City had turned out to be even more successful than Lamar Hunt could have expected. His team had been among the top five money-making teams in the NFL from 1971-73, much of the success the result of the move to the larger and more opulent Arrowhead Stadium which, in time, would be known as GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

But the decline that had accompanied the move out of Municipal Stadium to one of the NFL's greatest venues officially began in 1972 starting with a 20-10 loss to Miami, whom it had fallen to in the double overtime playoff game the year before, a game that Willie Lanier had said, "was what pro football was about, that was the game at its best."

Balloons are released from the end zone during the pre game ceremonies of a 1975 NFL football game at Arrowhead Stadium.

The following year's loss was a far different performance than the preceding year's playoff. The Chiefs were dominated by the more youthful Dolphins, a sign that became clear as the season continued. Kansas City finished with an 8-6 record, but did not make the playoffs.

After the playoff loss to the Dolphins, one veteran player from the team remembered that "things started to unravel. [Coach] Hank [Stram] had always been confident, but I sensed something had changed. His mood had shifted." Later, team president Jack Steadman would say after that season that the Chiefs "never really recaptured the spirit on the field."

As the '70s wore on, beloved fan favorites began to retire, as age began to creep up on them. Bobby Bell called it quits in 1974. Buck Buchanan went the next year, as did Otis Taylor and Len Dawson. More were to follow.

The new faces that replaced them fell well short of their talents, and fans reacted negatively believing somehow their old favorites would be around forever.

Hank Stram talks to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson (16) on the sidelines during a 1972 game at Arrowhead Stadium.

But more confusing matters were at play. Ticket holders, so anxious for the amenities of a spanking new stadium that was revolutionary by standards of the day, quickly began to grumble and ironically missed some of the traditions of decrepit Municipal.

Hunt did not attempt to re-create the "Wolfpack" in the new stadium, claiming "all season ticket holders are members of the Wolfpack."

He did attempt to re-create the "Huddle Club" in the new stadium, but it didn't fit a brand new design and, anyway, who wanted to sit in bleachers anymore? Much of the old seemingly had no place in a new stadium. Even Warpaint, a fixture at Municipal running the sideline, found it tough going on the Astroturf carpet, and in time was gone.

Everything was changing, even a coaching legend. The team's first coach, Hank Stram, was dismissed after the 1974 season, and Hunt struggled to find someone to take his place. Continuity had always been a Chiefs' strength. Stram and his staff had been together since the AFL's founding.

As losses mounted, coaches came and went in short order. Hunt had interests in any number of well-known head coaches to include George Allen, of whom he said, "Seldom have I talked to somebody for ten minutes and heard him say more right things about what it took to be a good football coach." But he was unable to convince Allen or others of note to sign on.

Later: New leadership turns the tide