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Column - Bob Gretz

Honoring History Crosses All Borders

Mar 27, 2009, 9:02:06 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ

aflringLike so many Americans, my pedigree is not pure. I’m a Slovak/Irish-American mutt. With those mixed chromosomes, I’m hard wired to like beer, potatoes, whiskey and cabbage.

Now, should I want to celebrate my Irish heritage on March 17th on St. Patrick’s Day with all four, should other Americans be offended? If I were of Mexican lineage and wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with chips and salsa, should other Americans be offended? If I were black and wanted to celebrate Kwanzaa with a holiday meal, should other Americans be offended? If I were of Italian heritage and celebrated Columbus Day in October with some vino and pasta, should other Americans be offended?

Of course not; that would be silly. We are all Americans, and that gives us the right to take time every year to honor our heritage, our history and our forefathers, no matter where they may have come from. I’d venture to say that on most St. Patrick’s Day, everybody becomes Irish for a day, whether they have shamrocks in their blood or not. That’s what makes the United States of America such a remarkable and envied place in the world.

For some that feeling obviously doesn’t translate into football. Apparently, there are a small number of Chiefs fans unhappy that this year the team will wear a helmet with the map of Texas on the side.

This week at the NFL’s spring meetings in California the league unveiled the throwback uniforms that will be worn during the coming season by the eight original teams of the American Football League. It’s all to celebrate the 50th season of football for the Texans now Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, Oilers now Titans, Bills, Patriots, Titans now Jets.

The Chiefs will wear the uniform of the Dallas Texans 1962 AFL championship team. Other than the helmet, the uniform doesn’t look much different than what the Chiefs wear today. A sock here and a stripe there have been tweaked over the years, but nothing major has been added or deleted.

The helmet has ruffled a few feathers. The state of Texas is on the side, with a gold star where Dallas is located in the state. This is what the Texans wore in their three seasons playing in Dallas. When the franchise moved to Kansas City for the 1963 season, the arrowhead appeared on the helmet and has been there each season.

In this season of remembering the past, the Texans helmet will return and the Chiefs will wear it for three games, two at Arrowhead. The Titans will wear the Oilers helmet with the oil derrick on the side. Pat the Patriot will come back on the side of New England’s helmets and the blue buffalo will be on the Bills helmet.

Each of the original AFL teams will wear the throwback uniforms for two games, but the Chiefs will get an extra game because of their matchup against the Dallas Cowboys team. The Cowboys and Texans went head-to-head in those three seasons together in Dallas, a battle that Lamar Hunt ended by moving his team to Kansas City and renaming them the Chiefs.

How wearing this Texans helmet can be translated into some sort of slap at Chiefs fans remains a mystery. Those seeking to stir up controversy say it’s an affront to those who have paid taxes to build Arrowhead Stadium and support the team. That’s silly. In 46 seasons of playing games in Kansas City, the Chiefs have more than paid off any money spent by the community on facilities. When you consider the revenues the team has brought into the area that would not have been here otherwise, there’s simply nothing that should lead to an apology from the Chiefs.

The Texans are part of the heritage of the franchise that now calls Kansas City home. That’s right Kansas City. For 17 games this season, the team will wear red helmets with the KC arrowhead on the side.

That’s quite an honor to the present and the future.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.

A former beat reporter who covered the Pittsburgh Steelers during their glory years, Gretz covered the Chiefs for the Kansas City Star for nine years. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors. He has been the senior columnist for the Chiefs web site since its inception.