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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
I was watching ESPN Classic this morning and they had a sweet rerun of an old show you may remember, starring Kenny Mayne, called Two -Minute Drill. It was the worldwide leader’s trivia precursor to Stump the Schwab, and one of Mayne’s questions to a well-dressed Claude Julien-lookalike was “What journeyman quarterback led the 1995 Kansas City Chiefs to a 13-3 regular season record?” I was completely stumped, and surprised to find out it was one-year wonder Steve Bono. So let’s talk about this fellow.
Bono was a two-sport star at UCLA, earning letters as both the catcher of the school’s baseball team and as the Bruins’ starting quarterback. Bono ultimately chose football, and was picked in the sixth round in 1985 by the Vikings. In four seasons spent between Minnesota and then Pittsburgh, he played in just seven games, starting three of them. It wouldn’t be until the 49ers started him in six games in 1991 that Bono would get his first significant playing action. In that ’91 season Bono went 5-1 as a starter, throwing 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, filling in for Joe Montana, before being moved back to the bench in favor of the rapidly ascending Steve Young.
After being moved to Kansas City following the 1993 season, Bono was once again relegated to backing up Montana. He waited out Montana’s retirement and was given the starting job in 1995. His only season as a sixteen-game starter went swimmingly in KC. The team went 13-3 and Bono would go on to Honolulu for his first and only Pro Bowl. He threw for 3121 yards despite completing only 56.3 percent of his passes.
When the Colts visited Arrowhead in a divisional round matchup following KC’s first-round bye week, Steve Bono was
thrust into the spotlight in the most important game of his career. Against Jim Harbaugh and the Colts, Bono went 11-for-25 for 122 yards, including one touchdown and three interceptions. Bono was benched late in the fourth quarter for Rich Gannon, and the team went on to lose 10-7, while the Colts went on to face the Steelers in one of the greatest AFC Championship games ever played.
Bono never did recapture the magic of his ’95 season, and after 1996 was released in favor of future Kansas City great Elvis Grbac. He spent his final three seasons in Green Bay, St Louis, and then Carolina, starting only two more games in his career, both in St. Louis. He went 0-2 as a starter.
The Super and the Obscure is a new segment here at Obscure Athletes, in which we talk about obscure quarterbacks who lost Super Bowls. They are numerous and hilarious. Today, the quintessential obscure Super Bowl losing QB, Chris Chandler.
By the time I remember Chris Chandler as the quarterback of the ’98 Super Bowl runners-up Falcons, he had already played nine seasons in the NFL for five different teams. In fact, when it was all said and done, Chandler would hold the distinction of being the only player in NFL history to start for eight different teams in his career. He played for three teams that are no longer in the same cities—the Cardinals when they were known as the Phoenix Cardinals, the Rams when they were in Los Angeles, and for the Titans when they were the Houston Oilers. All three teams left town shortly after Chandler. Provocative.
Chandler was a two-time Pro Bowler, both times for Atlanta in 1997 and again in 1998. He was born in Everett, Washington and went to the University of Washington before being selected in the third round of the ’89 draft by the Colts. Chandler never did win a Super Bowl but started in Super Bowl XXXIII against the Broncos after beating the 15-1 Vikings in the NFC Championship game on a game-winning field goal by the ageless Gary Anderson. In the game Chandler was 19-35 for 219 yards, but his three interceptions helped seal the fate of the Chandler-led Falcons.
Chris Chandler never did recapture the magic he had in Atlanta after being let go by the
Falcons in favor of Michael Vick. He played three seasons more —two in Chicago, and oddly enough, ended his career with another brief stint with the Rams, who had, by then moved to St. Louis.
Chandler finished his seventeen-year NFL career completing 58.1% of his passes and with an unremarkable 79.1 passer rating. As a starter he won 58 games, and lost 71. A perfectly obscure, highly mediocre career. Stay tuned for more of The Super and the Obscure: Obscure quarterbacks to start and lose Super Bowls.