How a late round gamble became one of the most electric playmakers in Chiefs history.
Before being known as The Human Joystick and The X-Factor, Dante Hall needed a team to give him a second chance as he transitioned into professional football.
The Kansas City Chiefs took a chance in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Dradt on the running back and return man out of Texas A&M.
This was a gamble for the Chiefs, as Hall was dismissed from the Aggies his senior year, only playing in six games. In his first three seasons, Hall saw his touches increase every season, according to Sports Reference.
His start in Kansas City as a returner was underwhelming. In his first two seasons, Hall returned 98 punts and kickoffs combined and had yet to see the end zone, according to StatMuse.
This led to Hall being moved to the NFL Europe in 2001 to play for the Scottish Claymores for a brief stint. The opportunity was seized by Hall to develop his game at wide receiver, and it showed when he returned back to the Chiefs.
In year three, second-year head coach Dick Vermeil wanted to implement Hall in the passing game more. Which worked, as Hall caught twenty passes along with three receiving touchdowns, according to Sports Reference.
In the later parts of the 2002 season, Hall went on one of the most unforgettable stretches in NFL history. The stretch was 13 games across the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Hall scored 10 touchdowns and had over 2,000 all-purpose yards as the Chiefs finished that season 13-3.
That stretch of time helped Hall get placed at the tenth spot on NFL Network’s ‘Top 10 Return Aces’ episode.
Hall would be named to the Pro Bowl for both seasons, while also being named a First-Team All-Pro in 2003. This All-Pro selection was the correct decision after his playoff performance against the Indianapolis Colts.
Hall hauled in two touchdowns, one receiving and one kick return touchdown. However, these scores were not enough, as the Chiefs lost 38-31 to the Peyton Manning-led Colts in the divisional round.
In his five-year career with the Chiefs, Hall ended with several records for the Chiefs that remain untouched. Including the single-season and all-time record for kick return yards in Chiefs history. Hall also holds the franchise record for touchdowns in both punt and kick returns.
When the 2000s NFL All-Decade team came out, The Human Joystick was honored with two selections. Second-Team behind Cleveland Browns Joshua Cribbs at kick returner, and first-team for punt returner, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
These records and accolades are symbolic of the excellence and resilience of Hall throughout his football career.
With the struggles and rejections he experienced, Hall is one of the most motivating underdog stories in Chiefs history. From being dismissed from his college team as a senior, to being moved to the NFL Europe league, Hall showed resilience to make a lasting impact on the Chiefs and NFL.