Thursday Tribute: Tim Grunhard

Before one of the best quarterbacks joined the Chiefs, players like offensive lineman Tim Grunhard were pivotal pieces to Kansas City.

Grunhard officially got his name into the Chiefs Ring of Honor this season. Grunhard was the 50th person announced to the prestigious group. Last season there was no player inducted, possibly due to limited fan attendance with COVID-19.

The second-round selection in 1990 put together an incredible collegiate career. Grunhard was a four-year starter at Notre Dame under the great Lou Holtz. The Fighting Irish won a national championship in 1988 behind the two.

Once Grunhard arrived in Kansas City, the offensive lineman would start nine games as a rookie. Grunhard was named to the All-Rookie team.

In the Chiefs’ second season under Marty Schottenheimer, the Chiefs were finding their identity.

Running the football was key to making the postseason in 1990. Running backs Christian Okoye and Barry Word combined for over 1800 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The Chiefs lost a close Wild Card game to the Miami Dolphins.

The 1991 season saw Grunhard as a day-one start and holding the center position down for the rest of the 1990s. Throughout his 11-year tenure, mistakes for Grunhard were rare.

In 169 games in Kansas City, Grunhard committed 19 penalties that were enforced, according to Pro Football Reference. Grunhard also started in 120 straight games from 1993 to 2000.

The Chiefs made it back to the playoffs the following season under the same scheme. Control the game with running, ball security, clock management, and hard-nosed line of scrimmage play.

Identical seasons from Okoye and Word led the 1991 Chiefs to a playoff victory over their rival Raiders followed by a divisional loss to the Jim Kelly-led Buffalo Bills.

Another playoff appearance followed in 1992 with a shut-out Wild Card loss to the Chargers. The scheme was working, but something needed to change in order to make a deep playoff run.

The Chiefs did that by adding quarterback Joe Montana and tailback Marcus Allen. The Chiefs had over 1600 rushing yards in the 1993 season behind Allen and others, according to Pro Football Reference.

The running and newly acquired Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game in 1994. The Chiefs went on to make the playoffs seven times in the 1990s.

Despite routine playoff appearances, Grunhard didn’t get national recognition until the 1999 season. Where he replaced an injured center and was selected to the Pro Bowl roster.

Grunhard helped to establish a scheme that was utilized by Chiefs teams well after his time played. Grunhard’s name was officially inducted at Arrowhead Stadium during Week 8 against the New York Giants.