Analysis

The most underrated Chief of all time

With so many Chiefs who many Kansas City fans would consider underrated, it is hard to nail down just one player. But with so many choices this seems to be the right answer.

One of the hardest questions to be asked as a fan of a team is who is the most underrated player of all time for your team. With the Chiefs, there are many players who went under the radar in their time here in Kansas City. Players like Dwayne Bowe, Deron Cherry, and even the great Otis Taylor are all great candidates. But one name stood out as truly underrated in his time in Kansas City; Tim Grunhard. Many today will know him as an ambassador for the Chiefs or the former head coach of Bishop Meige High School. But back in the day he was the man in the middle for the Marty Schottenheimer Chiefs.

The offensive line was super important to the Chiefs of the 1990s because of the style of offense they ran. When the late-great Schottenheimer was hired in 1988, he brought his offensive style to Kansas City. It was a run-heavy set with fullbacks and blocking tight ends that used to run on first, second and even third down; it was known as “Marty-Ball”. Since they ran this system, the offensive line was needed for some improvement heading into the 1990 offseason. 

With the 40th overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, the Chiefs chose Grunhard out of The University of Notre Dame. Throughout the 90s, Grunhard, fellow 1990 Draft class member Dave Szott, and Hall of Famer Will Shields were fixtures of the offensive line in Kansas City. Grunhard was always available too, only missing five starts in his decade with the Chiefs. With Grunhard in the middle, this offensive line paved the way for runners like Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye, Marcus Allen and Tony Richardson. He was a part of one of the most successful periods in Chiefs history. The Chiefs made the playoffs seven times in his career and would constantly contend, even making the AFC Championship game in the 1993 season.   

With how successful the Schottenheimer Chiefs were, many would think Grunhard would have received a couple of Pro Bowl selections in his time in Kansas City, but he didn’t. There were Hall of Fame centers who would continually receive honors above him. People like Bruce Matthews, Dermontti Dawson, Mark Stepnoski and Kevin Mawe were constantly in the Pro Bowl or were selected All-Pro above him. Grunhard was selected to one Pro Bowl in his career in 1999 as a reserve. He seemed to get lost in the shuffle with his own team too, the Chiefs of the 90s were loaded with talent. The 1990s Chiefs featured future hall of famers Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Will Shields and Derrick Thomas. It is hard to think of a player who could break through on a team with so many greats. It is a shame he didn’t receive the recognition he deserved — he’s not even in the Chiefs Hall of Fame — but he didn’t seem to mind with him always being around the Chiefs.

Even though many today don’t know Grunhard, a lot of fans will recognize him as a great ambassador for the Chiefs. He was always a part of the NFL Films on Chiefs greats like the “A Football Life” series. He was one of the few players interviewed about Schottenheimer after his death last year and always spoke well of Coach Schottenheimer. Grunhard deserves some credit for the success of the 1990s Chiefs, but sadly he has become lost in the shuffle.

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