Offensive linemen usually look to stay out of the spotlight. When that position is highlighted, it’s often for a mistake. Think the Chiefs’ recent Super Bowl loss.
But Saturday delivered the best kind of attention for an offensive lineman, an honor for career achievement, in Kansas City.
Tim Grunhard, who played center for 11 seasons on Chiefs teams that helped create Kansas City’s football frenzy in the 1990s, was announced as the latest inductee into the team’s Hall of Fame.
“I’m very rarely speechless,” Grunhard said. “But I’m speechless today.”
Grunhard spent his entire career with the Chiefs from 1990-2000, appearing in 169 games with 164 starts, taking over the position in the third game of his rookie season. He started 120 consecutive games during one stretch.
In 1999, Grunhard became the first Chiefs center since Jack Rudnay in 1977 to be selected for a Pro Bowl.
After nearly two decades of mostly losing football, the Chiefs of the 1990s became a phenomenon in the era of general manager Carl Peterson and head coach Marty Schottenheimer — full houses, an incredible tailgating scene and success on the field.
The Chiefs reached the playoffs seven times when Grunhard. They ranked among the NFL’s top five in rushing four times, and his line allowed 22 or fewer sacks four times.
“It’s great we were kind of able to build a foundation for the (Chiefs’) kingdom,” Grunhard said.
Grunhard was the Chiefs’ second-round selection from Notre Dame in the 1990 draft. He started every game for the Fighting Irish’s 1988 national championship team.
After he retired, Grunhard, originally from Chicago, and his family remained in Kansas City. And he has also stayed involved in local football on several levels. He has been a head coach and now serves as an assistant coach at Bishop Miege. Grunhard was a member of the University of Kansas staff as an offensive line coach in 2012 and 2013.
“Grunny” also worked in local radio as a player, and still does today, on WHB 810 AM, hosting a weekly program called “Crunch Time.” He serves as a board member of the Third and Long Foundation, and has been involved with the Kansas City Ambassadors, former players who represent the Chiefs at various functions.
“The Chiefs gave me an opportunity to play the game that I love,” Grunhard said. “When I was done, I didn’t want to say, ‘I’m done and we’ll see you later.’
“The first thing I tried to do was to find out what I could do to help this organization off the field. They helped me to get on the field and they helped me to have a great life, and I wanted to pay it back.”
Grunhard is the 50th individual and 46th player to be honored in the Chiefs Hall of Fame. The official enshrinement ceremony will be held during Chiefs Alumni Weekend this fall, when his name will join the other greats in franchise history.
“You look up and see Derrick Thomas, Christian Okoye, Lloyd Burress, Will Shields, John Alt, all those guys who are not only friends but mentors,” Grunhard said. “It’s great to be up with them now.”