The most unheralded Chiefs player of all time is a tricky thing to quantify. It could easily have gone to Otis Taylor, whose catch sealed the Super Bowl victory for the Chiefs 50 years ago, and when he retired, did so as the Chiefs leader in receptions, receiving yards, and TDs. Or to Neil Smith, who put up 85.5 sacks in his time with the Chiefs, before he joined the dark side in Denver. Or even more recently Mitchell Schwartz, who signed in KC in 2016 and has been an almost perennial all-pro selection, yet has not been selected to a pro bowl appearance for his extremely solid and consistent play on the right side of the line for the Chiefs. That certainly seems unheralded, to allow only 1 pressure throughout the most recent playoff run to a championship, and yet still be left off the list for a pro bowl nod? When it comes to most unheralded of all-time however, one Chief seems to keep sticking in my head however.
Jamaal Charles was drafted in the 3rdround in the 2008 NFL draft, and was a steal of a pick that was acquired from sending Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings. Eight RBs were selected before the Texas native, a sign of the underwhelming hype that was to come. During his first five years in the league the Chiefs finished in last place of the AFC West 4 out of the 5 seasons, due to a myriad of coaching changes and lack luster QB play. Jamaal suffered the first of two torn ACL’s in 2011 in his left leg, this injury ultimately foreshadowing the downfall of his career, whether or not he could remain healthy. He bounced back in fine form in 2012, making a second pro-bowl after scampering for a cool 1.509 yards. The next year he would also be the best weapon in the Chiefs arsenal, which was further bolstered by the arrival of Alex Smith and Head Coach Andy Reid. He was selected First team All-pro for a second time in his career after combining for 1,980 yards from scrimmage and setting career highs in receiving yards (693) and receiving TD’s (7). His success would carry into the 2014 season, when he was selected to his 4thpro-bowl after accumulating 1,324 yards from scrimmage and 14 total TD’s. This would be his last year with this amount of success. Five weeks into 2015, Jamaal was on route to another 1000+ rushing season when he tore his ACL, this time in his right leg. He would be cut from the Chiefs less than two years later, and move on to have 1 year stints in Denver and Jacksonville. In 2019 he signed a one-day contract to come back home to Kansas City so he could retire with the team he started with I n Kansas City.
Jamaal missed out on being the RB for the all-decade team to Frank Gore, who never had a top season remotely close to Jamaal’s best. Jamaal Charles leads the Chiefs in all-time rushing yards with 7,260. At the end of his tenure in KC Jamaal had the NFL record for most yards per carry with a minimum of 1,200 attempts, averaging a staggering 5.5 yards (according to NFL Research.) Even after his underwhelming seasons in Denver and Jacksonville, he still holds the record with an average of 5.4 ypc, ahead of the next closest RB in who many consider to be the best of all time, Jim Brown (who averaged 5.2 ypc.) Many believe Jamaal will fall short of being enshrined in Canton and getting the gold jacket all NFL Hall of Famers receive, just as he missed out on the all-decade team. One thing is for certain however, when he was at his prime, Jamaal Charles was an elite weapon in his the Chiefs offensive backfield, and in my opinion, the most dangerous Chiefs offensive weapon until they chose to draft a certain Patrick Mahomes II. The least the Chiefs organization could do to ensure his memory doesn’t die out is retire the number 25, after all Jamaal gave us with his blazing endzone runs (and both his ACL ligaments.) This would be a start to remembering the legacy that is #25 in red and gold, and making sure he doesn’t go as the most unheralded Chief forever.