Chiefs were out to make a statement 56 years ago and did so by crushing Chicago Bears

Rod Hanna/USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs’ history with the Bears is a short one, as the teams have played just 13 times in the regular season.

When the Bears come to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, it’ll be only their seventh visit to Kansas City in the regular season. The teams are 3-3 in KC.

But that doesn’t include the most famous preseason game in Chiefs history.

It took place on Aug. 23, 1967, which was 220 days after the Chiefs had lost to the Packers in Super Bowl I. In those 31 weeks, the Chiefs players and coaches had heard just how awful the American Football League was compared to the NFL.

Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi kicked off that talk after Green Bay defeated the Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl.

“I think the Kansas City team is a real tough football team, but it doesn’t compare with the National Football League teams,” Lombardi said. “That’s what you want me to say. I said it.”

That sentiment was shared by many, and it infuriated the Chiefs and coach Hank Stram.

So when the preseason schedule was released, Stram circled the Chiefs’ game against the Chicago Bears. That 1967 preseason was the first time AFL and NFL teams played.

This is not just another exhibition,” Stram told his team before facing Chicago, per the Chiefs website. “They know it’s the Bears they’re playing. Sometimes words don’t have any meaning, they’re unimportant. This may be that time.”

Chicago, which was coached by George Halas and included stars Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, jumped ahead 3-0. But by halftime the Chiefs led 39-10 and they didn’t let up in the second half en route to a 66-24 victory in front of 33,041 delighted fans at Municipal Stadium.

Quarterback Len Dawson threw touchdown passes of 70 and 29 yards to Otis Taylor and connected with Chris Burford on an 11-yard score. Gloster Richardson returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. That was all in the first half.

“You sit around and you hear all this criticism,” Chiefs tight end Fred Arbanas told the Talk of Fame podcast in 2106, “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.”

Halas did talk about the game, heaping praise on the Chiefs.

“They gave every indication tonight that they could play as good as any team in the National Football League,” Halas told the Kansas City Star’s Tom Marshall. “They were fired up, played with great spirit and gave 100 percent on every play.”

Stram told reporters afterward: “We didn’t talk much about revenge for the Super Bowl, but I wouldn’t be truthful if we didn’t have it in mind.”

Chiefs defensive lineman Jerry Mays put it this way while talking with the Associated Press: “There’s no question this gave us back a lot of respect in ourselves and our team.”

This clip from the documentary, “Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League” covers the Chiefs’ demolition of the Bears that day.