1981 Kansas City Chiefs season

The 1981 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 12th season in the National Football League and 22nd overall. They improved from 1980 from an 8-8 record to a 9–7 record but missing the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season.

Bill Kenney began the 1981 season as the club's starting quarterback and directed the Chiefs to a 6–2 start, including a 37–33 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium on Opening Day. Second-round draft choice, running back Joe Delaney electrified the club's offense by rushing for 1,121 yards, a team single-season record at the time. He was named the AFC's Rookie of the Year and became the first running back to represent the franchise in the Pro Bowl.[1] Delaney registered a 193-yard performance in a 23–10 victory against the Oilers on November 15, the best single-game total ever amassed by a Kansas City rookie.[1]

Owning an 8–4 record with four games remaining, the Chiefs were poised to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years before hitting a three-game losing skid. Bill Kenney missed the club's final three contests due to injury as Steve Fuller temporarily reclaimed the starting quarterback position and guided the club to a 10–6 win at Minnesota, in the final contest played at Metropolitan Stadium. With the Chiefs winning the game, Vikings fans began dismembering the stadium as early as the second half—taking seats, pieces of the scoreboard and even chunks of sod as souvenirs.[1] The victory assured the Chiefs of a 9–7 record, the club's first winning mark since 1973 as coach Marv Levy increased the club's victory total for a third consecutive year. Inspired by the Washington Redskins's "Hail to the Redskins," Levy penned a fight song for the Chiefs ("Give a Cheer for Kansas City"), but much like the team's wing T offense, the concept never really caught on.[1]

1981 Kansas City Chiefs season
Head coachMarv Levy
General managerJim Schaaf
OwnerLamar Hunt
Home fieldArrowhead Stadium
Division place3rd AFC West
Playoff finishdid not qualify
Pro BowlersRB Joe Delaney
DE Art Still
CB Gary Green
S Gary Barbaro
K Nick Lowery


NFL draft

1981 Kansas City Chiefs draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 14 Willie Scott  Tight end South Carolina
2 41 Joe Delaney *  Running back Northwestern State
3 70 Marvin Harvey  Tight end Southern Mississippi
3 75 Roger Taylor  Offensive tackle Oklahoma State
3 78 Lloyd Burruss *  Defensive back Maryland
4 97 Ron Washington  Wide receiver Arizona State
5 124 Todd Thomas  Center North Dakota
6 153 Dock Luckie  Defensive tackle Florida
7 180 Billy Jackson  Running back Alabama
8 206 David Dorn  Wide receiver Rutgers
9 237 Anthony Vereen  Defensive back Southeastern Louisiana
10 262 Les Studdard  Center Texas
11 289 Frank Case  Defensive end Penn State
12 319 Bob Gagliano  Quarterback Utah State
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career




1981 Kansas City Chiefs staff
Front office
  • Founder – Lamar Hunt
  • President – Jack Steadman
  • Vice President and General Manager – Jim Schaaf
  • Director of Player Personnel – Les Miller
  • Assistant Director of Player Personnel – J. D. Helm

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Rick Abernethy


1981 Kansas City Chiefs roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve List
  • 35 Horace Belton RB (IR)
  • -- James Black DE (IR)
  • -- David Cunningham RB (IR)
  • -- Jeff Davis TE (IR)
  • -- Lance Madison WR (IR)
  • -- Les Studdard G (IR)
  • -- George Stewart G (IR)
  • -- Ron Washington WR (IR)

Complete team roster
Rookies in italics


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1981 at Pittsburgh Steelers W 37–33
2 September 13, 1981 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 19–10
3 September 20, 1981 San Diego Chargers L 42–31
4 September 27, 1981 at Seattle Seahawks W 20–14
5 October 4, 1981 at New England Patriots L 33–17
6 October 11, 1981 Oakland Raiders W 27–0
7 October 18, 1981 Denver Broncos W 28–14
8 October 25, 1981 at Oakland Raiders W 28–17
9 November 1, 1981 at San Diego Chargers L 22–20
10 November 8, 1981 Chicago Bears L 16–13
11 November 15, 1981 Houston Oilers W 23–10
12 November 22, 1981 Seattle Seahawks W 40–13
13 November 26, 1981 at Detroit Lions L 27–10
14 December 6, 1981 at Denver Broncos L 16–13
15 December 13, 1981 Miami Dolphins L 17–7
16 December 20, 1981 at Minnesota Vikings W 10–6


AFC West
San Diego Chargers(3) 10 6 0 .625 6–2 8–4 478 390 W2
Denver Broncos 10 6 0 .625 5–3 7–5 321 289 L1
Kansas City Chiefs 9 7 0 .563 5–3 7–5 343 290 W1
Oakland Raiders 7 9 0 .438 2–6 5–7 273 343 L2
Seattle Seahawks 6 10 0 .375 2–6 6–8 322 388 W1


  1. ^ a b c d "Kansas City Chiefs History 1980's". Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  2. ^ "1981 Kansas City Chiefs draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
List of Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterbacks

The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs are a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League (NFL). Originally named the Dallas Texans, the club was founded by Lamar Hunt in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. In 1963, the team moved to Kansas City, Missouri and were renamed the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs have had 37 different quarterbacks start at least one game in their franchise's history, 21 of which have started at least 10 games. Cotton Davidson was the team's first starting quarterback; he played all 14 games for the Texans in their inaugural 1960 season. Davidson played with the franchise from 1960 to 1962, and was traded in 1963 to the Oakland Raiders. Len Dawson signed with on July 2, 1962 and played for the franchise for 14 seasons. With Dawson as the team's starter, the Texans/Chiefs won three American Football League championships and appeared in two Super Bowl championship games. Dawson was named Most Valuable Player after the Chiefs' victory in Super Bowl IV and retired in 1975 with several franchise records. Three quarterbacks currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have started at least one game for Kansas City: Dawson, Joe Montana, and Warren Moon. In the 2008 season, the Chiefs started three quarterbacks: Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, and Tyler Thigpen. After Croyle and Huard were sidelined by injuries, Thigpen played in eleven games, winning one and losing ten. In 2009 and 2010, Matt Cassel started 15 of 16 games each season, while Croyle started the other 2 games.

Playoff appearances (20)
Division championships (10)
League championships (3)
Retired numbers
Current league affiliations
Former league affiliation
Seasons (59)

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