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1981 Kansas City Chiefs season

1981 Kansas City Chiefs season
Head coach Marv Levy
Home field Arrowhead Stadium
Record 9–7
Division place 3rd AFC West
Playoff finish did not qualify
Previous season      Next season
< 1980      1982 >

The 1981 Kansas City Chiefs season ended with a 9–7 record, but no playoff appearance.

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 QB 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 NFL Draft

Round Pick Name Position College
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 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 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





Kansas City Chiefs 1981 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



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