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(Fred Arbanas photos courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)

Talk of Fame Network

The Kansas City Chiefs were the first AFL entry in the Super Bowl. And they were the first Super Bowl loser, 35-10, to the Green Bay Packers.

The loss wasn’t unexpected. Critics of the AFL predicted the Chiefs would get drilled, and they were right. What they missed, however, was that the upstart league was a lot closer to the NFL than most imagined – with the Jets winning Super Bowl III and the Chiefs following with a victory in Super Bowl IV.

But it was that first Super Bowl that was our concern when we sat down with all-AFL tight end Fred Arbanas, one of the original Dallas Texans before they became the Chiefs. More to the point, it was the effect that game had on the Chiefs in their next start vs. an NFL opponent, an August, 1967, exhibition contest vs. Chicago.

Final score: Kansas City 66, Chicago 24.

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Those were the days when preseason games were meaningful, especially when they involved once rival leagues, so the obvious question: Was that payback for what happened in Super Bowl I?

“Yes, it was,” said Arbanas on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “All winter … all spring ... all summer … all we got to hear was how lousy of a league we are; how lousy of a team we are.

“I went back to my parents’ house in Detroit to visit, and my cousin had a barber shop … and guys were coming in, saying, ‘Arbanas, what are you doing now?’ They were probably thinking I was working in a factory back in Detroit. And I said, ‘I’m playing with the Dallas Texans … and this and that ... and playing with the Kansas City Chiefs. They just didn’t know anything about us.

“We took about as much criticism as we could take, and it’s sorta like the Vikings. We came back and played them (in September, 1970) after we beat them in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl IV), and they beat us up in Minneapolis (27-10).”

The Chiefs’ shredding of Chicago was a rarity. There were 16 games in the summer of 1967 involving AFL and NFL teams, and the NFL was 13-3 – winning by an average of just over eight points per game. But the Chiefs were no ordinary team, with quarterback Len Dawson – bedridden for a week with a virus – throwing four touchdowns to make a statement.

“You sit around and you hear all this criticism,” said Arbanas, “and if you’ve got any guts in your body you’re going to go out and kick butt as hard as you can. And we did it.

"(It’s) the only score of any game that I played in that I can remember. I can remember George Halas after the game walking off the field. He was a nice old man, but he was shell-shocked. He couldn’t even talk. It was a good feeling.”