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Going To Kansas City: Retiring As A Chief

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“Going to Kansas City” is a series that shares the personal stories of how people came to Kansas City — and why they stayed.

Wide receiver Eddie Kennison played in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos before ending up as free agent for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001. This move upset many Broncos fans who are division rivals with the Chiefs, but Kennison says that when he moved to Kansas City he felt right at home. Kennison signed a ceremonial contract with The Chiefs in 2010 so he could retire as a member of the team.

Here is more about Kennison and his "Going to Kansas City" story:

Name: Eddie Kennison

Age: 41

Neighborhood/city: Leawood, Kansas

Came to Kansas City from: Lake Charles, Louisiana

Arrived in: 2001 after playing for the Denver Broncos. 

Why I came: Denver had released me, and I was a free agent, so that meant I was really open to any team that wanted to bring me in. And of course Dick Vermeil and Carl Peterson were here at the time, and those guys wanted me here, so that’s what brought me to Kansas City.

First impressions: The first time I came I didn’t get a chance to see a lot of it. I know I had an opportunity to eat dinner at the Capitol Grill, and even to this day I still go to eat there at least twice a month.

View today: When you’re moving around in the National Football League, you never know what to expect. I mean you know its football, you know you have to work, it’s going to be physical, and it’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be a grind. Kansas City welcomed my family with open arms. The fans and the organization. They took my entire family and said welcome to Kansas City, we love you, we want you here, we’re glad that you’re here, and let’s make some great things happen.

The biggest surprise: When I first got to Kansas City my wife was diagnosed with Lupus. At first we didn’t know what it was, it was just trying to figure out what to do because our life is changing dramatically on everything that we do on a daily basis. And then it got to a point where we kind of understood what it was, and we had a sense of direction on where our life was going, raising our kids and all of those things. And then we kind of jumped in and said OK, what can we do to make a difference?

We started the foundation, Quick Start Eddie Kennison Foundation,to do research and get the word out about lupus. And people in Kansas City, it doesn’t matter what it is, if they can help your cause, they show up in big numbers, and they can make a great impact.

What I miss: The only thing that I miss about Louisiana is the everyday tradition of cooking, the spices. Kansas City has great food but it’s just a different style.

Why I stayed: I wanted to retire as a Chief because the organization treated me so well, with so much respect, and with open arms. And I played the majority of my years here. Also, the community has been so supportive since we’ve been here. A lot of professional athletes have retired and stayed in Kansas City, like Trent Green, Tony Richardson, Will Shields and George Brett.

Favorite thing to do in Kansas City: We like to go to the Zoo and museums. There are a lot of things coming up in Kansas City like the Speed Way, and out South by our home there is a great place called Prairie Fire, where there are great restaurants and shopping. My mother was just visiting, and she really wants to move to Kansas City, so I better get her moved up here quick!

Next Kansas City adventure: ​Getting ready for the Lupus Walk this October 11 at the T-Bones Stadium.

Every part of the present has been shaped by actions that took place in the past, but too often that context is left out. As a podcast producer for KCUR Studios and host of the podcast A People’s History of Kansas City, I aim to provide context, clarity, empathy and deeper, nuanced perspectives on how the events and people in the past have shaped our community today. In that role, and as an occasional announcer and reporter, I want to entertain, inform, make you think, expose something new and cultivate a deeper shared human connection about how the passage of time affects us all. Reach me at hogansm@kcur.org.
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