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"The Keys to the Kingdom" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab

“The Keys to the Kingdom” is a love story about a man and his favorite football team. David Smale, a lifelong Chief's fan, shares his fondest memories of Arrowhead Stadium in his latest book.

“It was a labor of love because I remember the Chiefs coming here in 1963. I was five years old,” the author reminisces. As a kid, Smale went to dozens of games and then grew up to cover the team as a journalist.

In the summer of 1963 Kansas City became the new home of the Dallas Texans. Renamed the Chiefs, the team became the most successful franchise in the 10-year history of the American Football League.

Lamar Hunt, founder of the Chiefs, encouraged seven other men to join with him and launch the American Football League. When the AFL teams’ quality of play approached that of the NFL, Hunt was the one who initiated discussions with National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle about merging the two leagues.

The author includes countless memories including some little known, but culturally significant stories. For example, he describes how Hunt was instrumental in bringing diversity to the AFL.

“The NFL pretty much ignored the historical Black colleges and universities, and the AFL led by Lamar Hunt, went after those guys.” Many of the Chiefs’ “greats” played at those schools.

“The Keys to the Kingdom” is a wonderful coffee table book of more than 200 pages that includes exciting stories along with photographs matching the narratives. It would make a perfect holiday or birthday gift for any Pro Football enthusiast, especially one who follows Mid-America’s team.

Smale will make a Zoom presentation on his book Thurs., Oct. 8, at 6:30 P.M. as part of the Friends of the Washington Public Library Authors Series. To join the Zoom gathering, send your email address to or call the library at 636-390-1070. “The Keys to the Kingdom” can be purchased at Neighborhood Reads Bookstore.

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