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Banking on KC – Jan Stenerud


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Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host Kelly Scanlon. For this episode, we thought we'd capture the spirit of the NFL playoff season by talking with former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud. Jan played football for 19 seasons and he was selected to the pro bowl six times, six all-league, he played in Super Bowl IV and he was inducted into the hall of fame in 1991 as the first dedicated kicker to be named with that recognition. Now, many of our listeners may not know this, but he was also a Country Club Bank associate from 1968 to 1976 while he was at Kansas City Chiefs and he was inducted to the 100 All Team in 2020 and was recognized at the Super Bowl that year. Welcome, Jan.

Jan Stenerud:

Good morning. Nice to talk to you Kelly.

Kelly Scanlon:

You have a very interesting history with the Chiefs because you played football at some really pivotal times. You were signed by the Chiefs after the first Super Bowl and you played in Super Bowl IV and you kicked three field goals as I recall in that game.

Jan Stenerud:

Well actually, I'd been to school at Montana State. I was recruited from Norway to be on the ski team up at Bozeman Montana. Then my senior year, lot of soccer background, so I tried taking football and I ended up making the football team and I kicked a 59-yard field goal in college. And that at that time, it took us about a week to find out, but that was the longest kick in pro football as well as collegiate football. And at the end of the season, after one year on the football team, I was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs as a future draft choice we called it. If you were on two sports, I had one year left of eligibility on the ski team, stayed in school one more fall to hopefully get drafted by the NFL, which I did, was the Atlanta Falcons but I liked Lamar Hunt, I liked Hank Stram, I liked everything about the Chiefs.

Jan Stenerud:

So that's where I wanted to go, although the AFL was not quite compared to the NFL in those days but anyway, I ended up signing a contract with the Chiefs in December of 1966, that was approximately one month before Super Bowl One. But my rookie year was not until the next year and of course, I came to Kansas City exactly at the right time. The town was just about as excited about football as they are today because the Chiefs were AFL champs, they played in the first Super Bowl and they had high expectations. And actually, my very first game in Kansas City was against the NFL team, the Chicago Bears. And that was the second time the Chiefs had ever played against the NFL teams after what was the first game after they'd lost to the Packers in Super Bowl One.

Jan Stenerud:

And we scored 66 points I remember at Municipal Stadium. They won 66 to 24. That was an exhibition game, but that was my introduction to the fans of Kansas City and it was, for a young man from Norway with very little experience in football, it was a real thrill and the fans were so supportive. It was so exciting. And now again, after the last two or three years, it's the same thing. Maybe it'd be hard for the young people to understand that the town was that excited 50 years ago but the fans were phenomenal then also.

Kelly Scanlon:

Oh yes I remember that. My sisters and I were young girls at the time, but we watched you, we watched Len Dawson and we were on fire about the Chiefs as well. So that excitement, it's still here. Tell us about some of your favorite memories of your playing days.

Jan Stenerud:

Well, gosh. Kelly, over the years, after 19 years, you would think there were a few. And of course for me, the most exciting was definitely Super Bowl IV. It had to be. And that's really the first time I think I had trouble sleeping the night before the game. Even then, that was actually the second time that game was called the Super Bowl. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls that were then called the World Championship of Professional Football. Then, of course, Super Bowl Three was famous because Joe Namath was the big star, not only for the New York Jets but also for the entire AFL. They'd kind of promised or guaranteed that they would beat the Baltimore Colts, which was 17 or 18 points favorites. And the jets won 16 to seven. Of course, the next year is the last true game between the two leagues.

Jan Stenerud:

Super Bowl IV, they played Minnesota Vikings, a great team from the NFL. They were 13 to 14 points underdogs and they beat them 23 to seven. And that evened the series between the NFL and the AFL, two and two, before the merger. But just being in Kansas City and playing in the old stadium and then also moving into Arrowhead, it was a huge, huge thrill. And I remember playing the Raiders there in 1972. They moved into Arrowhead in 72 and they allowed standing room only the first year or so. And at that game, of course, the stadium seated about 77,000 people, and at that game, there were over 80,000 at that game.

Jan Stenerud:

And remember we beat them 16 to seven, a lot of fun thing. And Hank was so much fun to play for and also the players, you mentioned Len Dawson before but Mike Garrett was of course the great running back for us. He used to always score on that 65 Toss Power Trap. In the Super Bowl when Hank was talking about matriculating the ball down the field, et cetera, but people like Jerry Mays, Buck Buchan and Bobby Bell, Johnny Robinson, Ed Buddy, Jim Tyrer, Fred Arbanas. The list goes on and on. It was really exciting.

Kelly Scanlon:

The Hunt family and all the others involved really changed the course of football with the Super Bowl and the merging of the AFL and the NFL. How do you think the introduction of the Super Bowl and that whole structural change, changed the sport of football?

Jan Stenerud:

Of course, Lamar Hunt had tried to buy an NFL team for a long time and he wasn't able to do it. For some reason, they didn't want him to buy it. He was 25, 26 years old. And he found seven other people that could have a franchise. We had actually the first year, the Los Angeles Chargers, now they actually were the LA chargers in 1960 and then they moved to San Diego and became the Chargers. The New York Jets was owned by a guy called Harry Bismer and actually, the Chargers were owned by the Hilton family early on. And the New York team Jets was called the Titans the first year or two but you had a team in Buffalo, that was Ralph Wilson was the owner. Worcester Sullivan was the owner of the Patriots. Adams, Bud Adams, was the owner of the Houston Oilers. The Raiders were several people including Al Davis.

Jan Stenerud:

You know there were eight teams and of course, Lamar is the one that came up with the name Super Bowl because one of his kids was bouncing this ball around and then they found out that was called a Super Ball or whatever, was spelled a little bit differently, well yeah it was B-A-L-L obviously instead of bowl. But when he suggested that name to the commissioner Pete Rozelle, they didn't think much of that. But to talk about even the interest in football. In 1960... After the 69 season when they did play Super Bowl IV, there were about 225 million people in America and 70 million watched the Super Bowl on TV. So that was about one-third of the population. So now we have 330 million, maybe 340 and of course, they say that over a hundred million watch the games.

Jan Stenerud:

So percentage-wise, the television audience believe it or not, was about the same as it is now. So it was big time. I can remember growing up in Norway, my dad was talking about skiing from 20, 30, 40 years earlier, and I had a hard time really paying attention to that and listening to it and didn't really think much of it. And I talk now about the way it was 50, 60 years ago people may not realize and think that's the way it was and how big it really was and that was a huge win of course for Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

Oh yeah. Absolutely. Kansas City is a football town. I mentioned that you were a Country Club Bank associate during your playing days and heavy emphasis on the word during, I just think that that is kind of unheard of these days, that while you're playing football you also have another job.

Jan Stenerud:

There were several reasons for that. First of all, we didn't make the money they make today although I have to say this, we did okay. I felt that I was quite well off when I was that age because still the football salary was several times higher than some of the people I graduated with from college but we certainly did not make enough money so we could live on that for a long time after football. A lot of us got associated or worked for just to build a career or learn something and do something and get something started when football days were over. And of course, you had no idea how long that was going to last. Nothing was guaranteed. I always felt like my job was on the line for 19 years. If I had two bad games in a row, you might be in the unemployment line.

Jan Stenerud:

So you never knew. I didn't know if I was going to make the team when I got here. I didn't know for sure if I was going to make it through the first year and even in my third, fourth, fifth, 10th, 15th, 19th year, you don't know for sure. Of course, by that time, it's near the end when you're well over 40. But in addition to this, working because we want to build something that could be fall back on after football, it was always very uncertain. You have no idea how long your career was going to last. So, that was very common. And a lot of the people did very well. And one of the guys that I think of in particular, Fred Arbanas, who became a county legislator and he was just a wonderful guy, did so many things.

Jan Stenerud:

And of course, Lenny became a sportscaster, and the story I was told, is that it was Jack Steadman, who was the president of the Kansas City Chiefs, so when they came to Kansas City Jack approached one of the television stations and I think it was the ABC, the channel that Lenny worked for the whole time and when they asked Jack, "Well who's going to be the sportscaster?" "We don't need a sportscaster." And he said, "I have a quarterback, Len Dawson. And I asked him if he had any experience and he said no. But he's been interviewed some, so he's going to be okay."

Jan Stenerud:

And that's how he got the job. And of course, Lenny did that for a long, long time [inaudible 00:10:22] to have a radio show. And even people like me with an accent, I was hired in addition to Country Club Bank and after my rookie year, I actually... I was in the army reserve with the National Guard, I had to go to Fort Polk Louisiana for five months right after my rookie year. And then the next off-season, I had to start working at Country Club Bank. And I remember clearly of course, the only address we had then was 414 Nickels Row. And the board of directors were a lot of the top businessmen in Kansas City.

Jan Stenerud:

And my job was business development, but it was basically a door opener. I would knock on the door of just about every business on the Plaza. And of course, because of the Chief's success, it was pretty easy for me to get in the door and have a chance to tell them that if they ever needed, we could help them in the banking business with Country Club Bank. In addition to that we also had lunches I remember, in the board room down on 414 Nickels Row. So about once a month we invited a potential client and then we had a board member and some of the people in the bank and we just talked and visited.

Jan Stenerud:

And so that was my job. But I did that every day in the off-season for seven to eight years. And even during the season sometimes I had to go in. Because... Let's see. On Friday we would just go to practice at nine o'clock in the morning. Light practice. And we were out of there before noon. And even during the week, we met the practice at one or two o'clock in the afternoon and we were out of there by five. Now of course, the players they go to... I think they have breakfast or they lift weights maybe before breakfast, not so much during the season. They lift some but not as heavily as the off-season. But they're in there all day long. They have three good meals. They have computers in their locker and the place looks a little bit different. We just had a little practice field. But the soccer complex is now on the East Traffic Way which is 63rd Street.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yeah. They're eating and breathing and just living football 24/7, especially during the season.

Jan Stenerud:

And yeah, that's progress I guess it is. But it is different. It is different. But we also, we were professionals, we practiced and, and that football was going on in our minds it seemed like every waking hour. But it has. It has changed quite a bit and the preparations... I think Hank also was the first one to have camps. What do we call them again? In the spring. That started in the early seventies. So we had that we could get together, I think it was twice maybe in April and May for two or three days and it was preseason camps and he was the first one to do that as well. And he did a lot of things that were part of the evolution of how you approach football and how you approach Sunday, every Sunday. And he was a unique man.

Jan Stenerud:

And I do want to say though that the people that... We looked up the word matriculate, which had nothing to do with moving the football down the field. I think it has more to do with enrolling in a college or an educational facility.

Kelly Scanlon:

Right.

Jan Stenerud:

That word is used more than ever before because of Hank of course on that Super Bowl highlights that that shows so many times on television. And also what I heard was that Bud Grant, the coach with Minnesota Vikings, was actually asked first by Steve Sabol, who started NFL films, but Bud declined that. But I think Hank would've been a lot better, was a lot better choice anyway, because he talked a lot more than Bud Grant who was the quiet, steely-eyed coach of the Minnesota Vikings in those days.

Kelly Scanlon:

You might have retired from football Jan but you haven't let any grass grow under your feet that's for sure. You've stayed very busy. What are you up to these days?

Jan Stenerud:

Well, it's pretty quiet now. After football, I actually worked for HNTB Corporation for 20 years, HNTB sports architecture division which was really funny. It was a great company in Kansas City and for example, they haven't been involved in several years now, but of course, they were the architects of the Raider's new stadium in Vegas. We also did the 49'ers stadium and the Truman Sports Complex. Kivett Myers merged with HNTB. They were the architects of that phenomenal complex. So did that for 20 some years and retired from that. And I'm trying to hang onto my golf game. I used to be fairly decent but I'm slipping a little bit. I have a hard time breaking 80 which is not very good. But anyway, I am fairly busy doing very little. I don't know. It doesn't sound very good but by the time you answer emails and text messages and do certain things, it seems like there's never a boring day.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yeah. You say that but you're also still actively involved in... You and a group of other former Kansas City Chiefs, you come back to the Kansas City area and you help support the non-profits in the area. You're very involved in that, so tell us about those efforts.

Jan Stenerud:

It's a really great group that was founded by, I think I know that Buck Buchanan and Bobby Bell and Walter White had a lot to do with this. And Carl Peterson was also very instrumental in the group called The Ambassadors and they are people that stayed in Kansas City mainly, there are some from out of town too. And we do have meetings almost once a month. And the purpose is to raise money for charities and we have raised several hundred thousand dollars a year and some of the recipients of the money that we raise in the auction and the golf tournament. Camp Quality, which is a great place for kids that have suffered from cancer illnesses, and Ronald McDonald houses.

Jan Stenerud:

A lot of organizations around town, particularly, can help young people. And it's also... For us, it's also fun for former players that range from people that played in my era until people that recently retired. And it's fun to really meet these guys too. Some of the young guys that I just saw their names for years and years and I get them to be around them. And all of them are really nice young men, they care and we have a lot of fun in addition to doing something important and helping people, it's also fun for us to get together as well.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yes, I imagine that it is. You know, talking about the current players and some of the younger players, what gets you most excited these days about our Chief's team?

Jan Stenerud:

Well, it starts from the top. The organization is such a quality organization. It always has been. And our head coach, Andy Reid, is such a special man. And I have to say, Mahomes is the most exciting player maybe I've ever seen. They tempered him a little bit this year for a while but my goodness, he is absolutely phenomenal. That's why the list goes on and on and of course, I'm proud of Butker too, I think he's an excellent kicker and a really fine young man. And Tyreek Hill, my goodness what a star, and Kelce of course. The list goes on and on. I shouldn't really mention any, but Patrick Mahomes, I just barely met the young man but he is remarkable not only on the field but also off the field. And he is such a phenomenal young man.

Jan Stenerud:

And that's so important I think, that the people on the field are representing the Kansas City Chiefs and the city seems like they have really fine young men and it really makes me proud to say that I was part of the Chiefs for a long time. And that these young men are handling everything so extremely well and I also think that Andy Reid, he has something to do with that. And of course, all these people come from different backgrounds and I'm very proud. Very proud of the young men and proud to have been for Kansas City for as long as I was.

Kelly Scanlon:

Well Jan, we're very proud of everything that you've contributed to the city, what you accomplished during your playing days and the way you continue to give of your time and invest in Kansas City. Thank you so much for everything.

Jan Stenerud:

Well, it's absolutely been my pleasure. I've been very blessed. There's been a lot of fun and I'm very glad that I chose Kansas City. I had a choice to make about 55 years ago and it worked out. It was more fun for me than anybody else that I have been around over the years.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, president of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Jan Stenerud for being our guest on this episode of Banking on KC. When we think about hometown ambassadors, Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud certainly embodies the role. His three field goals helped lift the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 1967 and put Kansas City in the international spotlight. As a Country Club Bank associate, he opened personal and business accounts for many Kansas Citians, introducing them to a banking partner that cared about their financial future. Even today, he continues working to lift Kansas Citians through his involvement with a group of former Chiefs players who do fundraising for local non-profits. Most of all, Jan exemplifies the winning spirit that continues to carry Kansas City forward. We're banking on you Kansas City. Country Club Bank member F D I C.

 

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