Grigsby Steals The Show At Chiefs' Luncheon

Usually, the Chiefs' annual kickoff luncheon is a boring, pointless, contrived pep rally. That's great if it's your sort of thing - balloons, cheerleaders and Jock Jams. Tuesday, at the Chiefs' 2009 luncheon, I fully expected to listen to the dry speeches, ambiguous encouragements and failed attempts at humor and leave unimpressed.

There was certainly some of that. Coach Todd Haley and general manager Scott Pioli talked about hard work, discipline and having the "right 53 guys." Chairman Clark Hunt talked about being excited for a new football season and a new era in Chiefs football. Hunt and Pioli joked about Haley's new conditioning plan. Even Kansas City mayor Mark Funkhouser poked fun at himself.

However predictable and uneventful the luncheon was, there was one man who stole the show, as he usually does - Bill Grigsby. There is no better hype man in professional sports. Grigsby is to the Chiefs as Flava Flav was to Public Enemy. No one can conjure excitement like Grigsby.

Even Mitch Holthus, the voice of the Kingdom, seemed monotone sharing Grigsby's stage. That says a lot. Holthus "Touchdown, Kansas City" call makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but Grigsby worked the crowd like a legend Tuesday. When he cracked a joke, the biggest smile on the dais belonged to Holthus.

Grigsby told a story about Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud knocking on Hank Stram's door to report for training camp at four AM. Stram told Stenerud to knock on all the other doors and come back and tell him what the other coaches and players said. Stenerud did so, and returned to Stram, who asked him what they said, to which Stenerud responded, "Nothing. They're not in yet."

Nobody can tell a story about the good old days like Grigsby. He's like a grandfather to Chiefs fans.

Grigsby talked about wide receiver Otis Taylor, opening the discussion by saying, "One of us is dying." The entire Hyatt Regency ballroom went silent. No one dared peck away on their cell phone. There was no tinkering of glasses against silverware or china.

Haley and Pioli, who maintained blank stares into the crowd or their plate throughout most of the ceremony, sat at attention with their eyes fixed on Grigsby. The old man reminisced about a one-handed grab Taylor made during the Chiefs' 1969 Super Bowl run. He talked about Taylor's battle with Parkinson's. You could hear a pin drop. I had tears welling up in my eyes. It was the saddest, most captivating thing I'd seen in quite a while, reminiscent of John Cappelletti's emotional 1973 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech.

Grigsby, like Taylor, is a living legend. He is truly a Kansas City icon. I'm young, but I'll always remember Grigsby. I never got to hear him call a game, but his timeless voice saying "PRRRice Chopper" gives me chills. We should enjoy Grigsby while we still have him, and should ensure the youngest generation of Chiefs fans gets acquainted with him. Cubs fans can have Harry Caray and Cardinals fans can have Jack Buck. I'll take Bill Grigsby.

I'll end this column with another luncheon story from grandpa:

"And there's another moment that I thought of," said Grigsby. "Talk about learning to win. You go back against Joe Namath, Shea stadium and the New York Jets. Kansas City scored first. Namath brings the (Jets) back to the two-yard line. This is where you learn to win. First down, goal to go, in a very important game. Namath hands off to Matt Snell - no gain. Namath hands off to Matt Snell - no gain."

"Namath then fakes the hand off, goes back to pass. Bobby Bell read everything that Namath was thinking. Dumped him for a loss. They had to settle for three. The Chiefs go on to win a tight game and moved on to beat the Raiders, then went to the Super Bowl, but while they were in that line stopping Matt Snell...Buck Buchanan - he's in the Hall of Fame. One of the most beautiful big men I ever knew from Grambling."

"I always said there'd be no grumbling in Grambling tonight with Buck Buchanan. Tears running down his face, holding the New York Jets out of the endzone. That is where you learn to win, and why this franchise is a franchise of greatness, and don't ever let anyone tell you we won't be back."

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