Top 10 Linebacking Corps: #4 Hank Stram’s Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs get a lot of run around this site, and rightfully so.  With players like Len Dawson, Abner Haynes, Chris Burford, Ed Budde, Jim Tyrer, Mike Garrett, Fred Arbanas, Otis Taylor, and others, this team had an offense that could go toe-to-toe with anyone in either league, as they proved in Super Bowl IV, and several prior preseason games.

The Chiefs had sensational defenses as well, and in particular, a linebacking corps that has been ranked #4 in the history of the game by NFL Films.  Ranked in-and-around the Chiefs ‘backers are:

10.  2000 Baltimore Ravens

9.  Denver Broncos Orange Crush

8.  1980s Oakland Raiders

7.  Mid-1990s Pittsburgh Steelers

6.  Vince Lombardi’s Packers

5.  1985 Chicago Bears

4.  1Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs

3. Bill Parcells’ Giants

2.  1970s Pittsburgh Steelers

1.   Jim Mora’s New Orleans Saints


Todd Tobias (788 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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6 Responses to Top 10 Linebacking Corps: #4 Hank Stram’s Chiefs

  1. 1967 says:

    They played as units but were individual standouts… aye, that’s the rub. Hard to differentiate as all were great, harder perhaps individually place one above another, players… will try anyway.

    I’ll ignore the 3/4 alignment LB’s because, “frankly, I don’t give a d**n” (nod Clark Gable, old school movies as well football era.) If a ‘corps for the ages’ were formulated encompass the best ever 3-man traditional alignment, my trio is LLB Bell, MLB Butkus & RLB Taylor; one guy AFL and one NFL from the 1960’s, and one the post merger modern era.


    Best ever 3 man unit (emphasis on ‘unit’, moreso than individually), same team?

    Exit frying pan, enter fire.

    Mine: KC (Bell, Lanier, Lynch), PITT (Ham, Lambert, Russell) and GB (Nitschke, Robinson, Caffey); honorable mention NYG (Banks, Carson & Taylor.) I’m biased for KC as a fan, PITT had more combined Pro Bowls than any other trio & it’s hard to deny GB with all the success theirs. In general, the game became more ‘star’ oriented re: LB’s 1980s to date my opine, due emphasis on ‘sacks’, why later teams got more ‘hype’ comparison earlier years players, due scheme.

    Flip a coin; most Pro Bowls? most Championships? biggest impact statistically? Greatest imprint left on the memory bank/football heartstrings, yours & mine?


    Shy any team’s entire unit being enshrined in the Hall of Fame, might be easier list the best two on any team, then argue who among the last (3rd LB) was best. Course, then do you specify by best remaining RLB, LLB or MLB or just disregard said in lieu ‘the best’ LB remaining any, period?

    I don’t know.


    My best 2 on the same team, traditional 3-man (with apologies all others not nominated, GB’s Nitschke & Robinson and BALT’s Curtis & Hendricks, examples.)

    KC ~ Bell & Lanier
    PITT ~ Ham & Lambert
    NYG ~ Taylor & Carson

    All Hall of Famers.

    The three considered, remaining LB’s Lynch, Russell & Banks, all I will say is ‘long live the AFL!’

  2. The Bills’Harry Jacobs, Mike Stratton and John Tracey played as a LB unit for 57 straight games, a Professional Football record, and they and their defensive mates held opposition rushers without a touchdown for 17 straight games in 1964-1965.

  3. Tom says:

    The 1960’s Cowboys Jordan, Howley and Edwards were as sound a LB crew as any ever assembled. All three were HOF caliber players and none are in.

  4. Howard says:

    I’m not sure why the Saints were listed #1. I thought GB, Chiefs and Steelers of 1970’s were best. Giants had the greatest player of all in LT. Agree that Cowboys trio was solid. A bit on the small side, but all could cover and tackle.

  5. Tom says:

    The 1973 Redskins trio of Myron Pattios, Dave Robinson and Chris Hanburger if teamed together in their prime, would have been as formidable as any.

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