Thursday Tribute: Ed Podolak

Podolak was a reliable tailback for the Chiefs in the 1970s and provided an all-time record performance in the longest ever postseason matchup

The 1969 NFL Draft saw the Chiefs select Iowa’s Ed Podolak. That season, the Chiefs would win their first Super Bowl until a half-century of time passed, but Podolak may have the best singular postseason performance in Chiefs history.

Though Podolak didn’t play as a rookie for the championship, he saw his role dramatically increase over the next eight seasons with running, catching and returning kicks and punts. In 1970, Podolak started nine games while rushing for three touchdowns and nearly 750 rushing yards, which led to a historic showing in 1971. The following season saw Podolak help lead the Chiefs back to a playoff spot. The third-year back had a career-high nine rushing touchdowns that season with 708 rushing yards, according to Pro Football Reference.

In the first round, the Chiefs would play the Miami Dolphins, in a game still widely considered the longest in NFL history. Podolak had an unbelievable performance, he rushed for 85 yards on 12 rushes for a five-yard average. Along with accounting for 110 receiving yards on eight catches. Podolak added another 154 yards on kick returns.

Podolak broke the NFL record for all-purpose yards in a postseason game with 350 total yards, according to Pro Football Reference. But Podolak’s performance wasn’t enough for Kansas City as they fell 27-24 in double overtime against the Dolphins. This would be Podolak’s last opportunity to play in the playoffs.

In the 1970s, running backs were not as prone to receiving as many passes as Podolak. On his career, Podolak caught 288 passes and totaled nearly 2,500 receiving yards. Podolak helped to establish combo running back play that still shines in the league today. The Chiefs continued to go to Podolak in the running game over the next two seasons. Podolak went on to start 23 of the 27 games he played over the next two seasons. Despite rushing over 1300 yards and seven touchdowns in that time.

The running back and return man would play four more seasons with the Chiefs into the 1977 season. Podolak would step away from playing but established a broadcasting career that began in the NFL and transitioned to Iowa Hawkeye football, which he would go on to do for decades. Podolak would become a major contributor to the Chiefs, he is still fifth in franchise history for rushing yards. The Chiefs inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1989.

The running back out of Iowa helped to show that there are more ways for a running back to take over a football game. Whether it was running, catching or returning, Podolak did as much as he could to help the Chiefs secure the victory.