1987 Kansas City Chiefs season
OwnerLamar Hunt
Head coachFrank Gansz
General managerJim Schaaf
Home fieldArrowhead Stadium
Division place5th AFC West
Playoff finishDid not qualify
Pro BowlersWR Carlos Carson
DT Bill Maas
CB Albert Lewis
S Deron Cherry

The 1987 Kansas City Chiefs season was the franchise's 18th season in the National Football League and the 28th overall. Under new head coach Frank Gansz, The Chiefs split their first two games never recovered and the Chiefs replacement players went 0–3. After the regulars returned, the Chiefs continued to struggle losing their next five games to stand at 1–9. The Chiefs would go on to finish with a 4–11 record, a year after making the playoffs in 1986.


One of the most tumultuous weeks in franchise history took place following the club's playoff loss against the Jets in the 1986 playoffs. Assistant head coach and special teams coach Frank Gansz, resigned his position on January 7 in order to pursue opportunities as an NFL offensive coordinator.[1] The following day, the Chiefs announced in an impromptu press conference that John Mackovic was relieved of his duties as head coach on January 8. A popular figure among Chiefs players, Gansz was reinstated on January 10 and was named the sixth head coach in franchise history.[1]

Former quarterback Len Dawson became the third Chiefs player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8,[1] while injuries forced the retirement of the club's all-time leading tackler Gary Spani.

NFL draft

Main article: 1987 NFL draft

1987 Kansas City Chiefs draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 19 Paul Palmer  Running back Temple
2 35 Christian Okoye *  Running back Azusa Pacific
3 73 Todd Howard  Linebacker Texas A&M
5 128 Kitrick Taylor  Wide receiver Washington State
7 186 Doug Hudson  Quarterback Nicholls State
8 218 Michael Clemons  Running back William & Mary
9 244 Randy Watts  Defensive end Catawba
10 271 James Evans  Running back Southern
11 298 Craig Richardson  Wide receiver Eastern Washington
12 325 Bruce Holmes  Linebacker Minnesota
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career




1987 Kansas City Chiefs staff
Front office
  • Founder – Lamar Hunt
  • President – Jack Steadman
  • Vice President/General Manager – Jim Schaaf
  • Director of Pro Personnel – Whitey Dovell
  • Director of College Scouting – Les Miller
  • Coordinator of College Scouting – Greg Mohns

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches
  • Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers – John Paul Young
  • Defensive Line – Don Lawrence
  • Defensive Backs – Dave Brazil
  • Defensive Quality Control/Linebackers – Mark Hatley

Special teams coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning Coordinator – CT Hewgley

Replacement players

After the league decided to use replacement players during the NFLPA strike, the following team was assembled:

1987 Kansas City Chiefs replacement roster


Running Backs

  • 21 Ralph Stockemer
  • 39 Steve Griffin
  • 40 Ken Lacy
  • 41 Woodie Pippens
  • 42 Lloyd Murray
  • 43 Robert Parker
  • 47 Chris Smith

Wide Receivers

  • 82 Nate Blanks
  • 83 John Trahan
  • 84 Richard Estell
  • 85 Kenny Nash
  • 86 Eric Brown
  • 87 David Montagne

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams


1987 Kansas City Chiefs roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics

Season summary

A duo of rookies made a splash in a 20–13 win on Opening Day against San Diego as running back Paul Palmer returned a kickoff for a TD and Christian Okoye dashed for 105 yards.[1] A 24-day players strike began on September 22, canceling the club's contest against Minnesota.[1] Replacement players participated in games for the next three weeks. Much like Marv Levy five years earlier, Gansz's grip on the club's coaching reins was crippled by the labor unrest.[1]

Kansas City's replacement squad consisted primarily of players cut in training camp. One of the few bright spots among the players was running back Jitter Fields, who remained on the active roster following the strike.[1] The Chiefs strike squad received an ominous welcome in Los Angeles when in the early morning hours of October 4, the day prior to a contest against the Raiders, an earthquake rattled Southern California. The shaken Chiefs lost a 35–17 decision later that day. The low point of the year came the following week at Miami in the first regular season game played at what then was known as Joe Robbie Stadium. Chiefs replacement QB Matt Stevens was injured early in the contest, forcing into duty backup quarterback Alex Espinoza, who had never taken an NFL snap. The result was a 42–0 Dolphins victory, setting the stage for an 0–3 performance by Kansas City's replacement unit, giving the Chiefs a 1–4 record before the club's regular roster returned at San Diego on October 25.[1] Five straight losses followed, giving the Chiefs a team-record nine-game losing skid. For the only time in team history, five different players started games at quarterback for the club.[1] Behind Kenney, Kansas City won two of its last three games to conclude the strike-shortened 4–11 campaign.


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance Recap
1 September 13 San Diego Chargers W 20–13 1–0 Arrowhead Stadium 56,940 Recap
2 September 20 at Seattle Seahawks L 14–43 1–1 Kingdome 61,667 Recap
3 September 27 Minnesota Vikings Cancelled due to players' strike
4 October 4 at Los Angeles Raiders L 17–35 1–2 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 10,708 Recap
5 October 11 at Miami Dolphins L 0–42 1–3 Joe Robbie Stadium 25,867 Recap
6 October 18 Denver Broncos L 17–26 1–4 Arrowhead Stadium 20,296 Recap
7 October 25 at San Diego Chargers L 21–42 1–5 Jack Murphy Stadium 47,972 Recap
8 November 1 at Chicago Bears L 28–31 1–6 Soldier Field 63,498 Recap
9 November 8 Pittsburgh Steelers L 16–17 1–7 Arrowhead Stadium 45,249 Recap
10 November 15 New York Jets L 9–16 1–8 Arrowhead Stadium 40,718 Recap
11 November 22 Green Bay Packers L 3–23 1–9 Arrowhead Stadium 34,611 Recap
12 November 26 at Detroit Lions W 27–20 2–9 Pontiac Silverdome 43,820 Recap
13 December 6 at Cincinnati Bengals L 27–30 (OT) 2–10 Riverfront Stadium 46,489 Recap
14 December 13 Los Angeles Raiders W 16–10 3–10 Arrowhead Stadium 63,834 Recap
15 December 19 at Denver Broncos L 17–20 3–11 Mile High Stadium 75,053 Recap
16 December 27 Seattle Seahawks W 41–20 4–11 Arrowhead Stadium 20,370 Recap

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.


AFC West
Denver Broncos(1) 10 4 1 .700 7–1 8–3 379 288 W2
Seattle Seahawks(5) 9 6 0 .600 4–3 5–6 371 314 L1
San Diego Chargers 8 7 0 .533 3–4 6–7 253 317 L6
Los Angeles Raiders 5 10 0 .333 2–6 3–8 301 289 L3
Kansas City Chiefs 4 11 0 .267 3–5 3–9 273 388 W1


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Kansas City Chiefs History 1980's". Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  2. ^ "1987 Kansas City Chiefs draftees". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 12, 2014.