Chiefs, Eagles resume NFL’s least played rivalry in Super Bowl LVII
Super Bowl Week is a time to rejoice in the shared history of the teams playing in the NFL’s championship game, but in the case of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, there really isn’t much to talk about.
Sure, there’s the greatness of coach Andy Reid, who some argue — Hank Stram apologists notwithstanding — is the finest coach in the history of both teams. This game also marks the first time two brothers will play against each other in the Super Bowl, as Donna Kelce, mother of Jason Kelce of the Eagles and Travis Kelce of the Chiefs, will become the first person in history to tire of answering the question, “Which team are you rooting for?”
But coming up with compelling moments that occurred between the Chiefs and the Eagles on the football field is a daunting task. And that’s for a lack of trying on the team’s parts.
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Eagles and Chiefs record and history
Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 the Chiefs and the Eagles are the only teams that have been in the league every year who have not played each other at least 10 times. The Super Bowl will be their 10th game. These two teams have met only nine times in the regular season, and once went — wait for it — 20 years without playing each other (an explanation for that scheduling anomaly comes later).
The all-time record between the teams is about as close as it can be. The Chiefs have won five of the nine contests — including winning the last three — although the Eagles have outscored the Chiefs by a combined one point (219 to 218) in those nine games.
They first played two years after the merger in the sixth week of the 1972 season, when the NFC’s Eagles stunned the AFC’s Chiefs, 21-20, behind quarterback Pete Liske, who threw three first-half touchdown passes. The Eagles were winless entering the game. The Chiefs were perennial playoff contenders who were still trying to find their way around their shiny new field at the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex, losing for the third straight time in the first season of Arrowhead Stadium. They played their first game at Arrowhead on September 17, 1972, losing to the Miami Dolphins exactly 23 years to the day before Patrick Mahomes was born. The Chiefs finished 8-6 that year missing the playoffs and they wouldn’t return to the postseason until 1986.
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And that was it for 20 years. Stunningly, the Eagles and Chiefs didn’t play again until 1992. If you were born at the time of the first Eagles-Chiefs game in 1972, you might have been in college when you saw them play again.
They were supposed to play each other in 1977, but one game was removed from every team’s original schedule in order to find opponents for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks, who both joined the NFL that year.
One year later, the NFL scheduling process became more regimented, as the league went to the 16-game season. That also led to an innovation called the “fifth-place schedule.” With an odd number of teams in several divisions, a team that finished in fifth place was denied the crossover schedule that the top four teams in each division played the following year. In 1980, 1983, 1986, and 1989, when the AFC West teams played the NFC East teams, the Chiefs or Eagles always finished the previous year in fifth place and were not scheduled to play each other in a non-conference game. And because they never finished in fifth place at the same time, they didn’t get a fifth-place non-conference game either.
When the strangers finally collided again in 1992, the Philadelphia Inquirer called it “pro football’s least-contested rivalry.”
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They played in 1992, 1998, and 2001, before settling into the current four-year cycle. More recent games include the first time Reid coached against his former team in 2013, a 26-16 Chiefs victory. After that game, Reid — whose 130 regular season wins (and 140 overall) as the Eagles coach are the most in franchise history — told the Inquirer he was not sure how he was supposed to feel about the game. “I’m not sure exactly how I feel other than I’m glad we won the game,” he said. “It was different. I’m at the opposite end of the field that I’m normally at and looking at different things, but I wasn’t caught up in that part.”
The next game in 2017 was the first time both Kelce brothers played, and the game after that in 2021 was Mahomes’ only start against the Eagles.
The Chiefs won both of those games, too, giving Reid a 3-0 record against his former team. In the 2021 game, Mahomes threw five touchdown passes to lead Kansas City to a 42-30 victory.
Unique history on the line for Andy Reid
Mahomes is 1-0 in this, um, rivalry. Reid, however, is 6-0. The coach won three games against the Chiefs as the head coach of Philadelphia from 1999 to 2012. Two of those wins came against Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, who led Philadelphia from 1976 to 1982 and is the third-winningest coach in Eagles history.
Vermeil is fourth among Chiefs coaches in total victories with 44. Marty Schottenheimer is third with 104 (including 101 in the regular season and three in the post). Then it gets interesting. Reid is second with 128 total wins including 11 in the playoffs. If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Reid will tie Hall of Famer Hank Stram with 129 career victories as Kansas City’s head coach. Stram won 124 regular season games and five post season games including Super Bowl IV against Minnesota in 1970 in his 15-year tenure with the team from 1960 to 1974.
Kelce vs Kelce ups the on-field intrigue
As for players, there hasn’t been much overlap between the rosters of the Chiefs and the Eagles. Significantly, former Eagles All-Pro LeSean McCoy spent a year with the Chiefs late in his career; and a pair of notable Eagles quarterbacks—Ron Jaworski and Nick Foles—spent one season with Kansas City. (Foles said he joined Kansas City to reunite with Reid, his former coach with the Eagles.) Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy finished his nine-year playing career with the Eagles in 1999.
RELATED: Kelce brothers Jason and Travis to make history in Super Bowl LVII
The on-field rivalry lags until you consider the upcoming brother vs. brother battle that interests many people this week. Eagles center Jason Kelce has played in the last three match-ups between the teams, but brother Travis, the Kansas City tight end didn’t appear in the 2013 game, only playing once during a rookie season spent mostly on injured reserve. The most popular Kelce this week could be their mother, Donna, who just might be interviewed more times than either player. Jason’s Eagles have lost all three times he has played the Chiefs. Maybe that’s why the custom Chiefs-Eagles combo jersey that Donna often wears has the Chiefs side in front.
City of Brotherly Love earns its name
Weirdly, this is the second time in the last year that a team from Philadelphia playing for the championship of its sport has had a player whose brother was a member of the opposing team. Nick Maton, a back-up utilityman for the Philadelphia Phillies, got one at bat in the 2022 World Series, lining out to third base as a pinch hitter in game two. That appearance was one more than his brother, Phil, who didn’t play in the Series as a member of the Houston Astros because of a broken finger in his pitching hand. Phil Maton broke the finger when punching a locker after a late-season game in which he gave up a hit to his younger brother.
Nick won the individual matchup between the Matons, but the Astros won the World Series and Phil got the ring.
Which leads to a ring story involving another time brothers were on opposing sidelines during a Super Bowl, brothers who also have a Pennsylvania connection. Way back in Super Bowl III in January 1969, Lou Michaels, a kicker for the Baltimore Colts, played against his brother, Walt, who was a defensive coach for the New York Jets. Walt and Lou grew up in Swoyersville, a coal-mining town in the Scranton area, about two hours north of Philadelphia.
Michaels missed two field goals in the Super Bowl, and considered himself one of the goats in the Colts 16-7 loss in the game in which Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously guaranteed that his team would win. More likely, it was the Colts offense, which was intercepted four times during the game that cost them victory.
Still, Michaels was inconsolable, telling the Washington Post that he was “disgusted” with his performance. Forty years later, he remained bothered by the defeat, and the last lines in his 2016 obituary in the New York Times explain why. “The sting of losing the big game never left him, Michaels told The Baltimore Sun in 2010. ‘People say, Forget about it,’ he said. ‘How do you do that when your brother has your Super Bowl ring?’”
After Super Bowl LVII, one of the Kelce’s will understand the feeling.
How can I watch and live stream Super Bowl 2023?
When: Sunday, February 12, 2023
Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
TV Channel: FOX
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Chiefs, Eagles resume NFL’s least played rivalry in Super Bowl LVII originally appeared on NBCSports.com