This Was The Kansas City Chiefs' First Quarterback

Before the Kansas City Chiefs became the Chiefs, the team originated as the Dallas Texans, an American Football League (AFL) team that played from 1960 to 1962. In 1963, per the National Football League's (NFL) official site, team owner Lamar Hunt moved the Texans to Kansas City and, understandably, renamed them, choosing the "Chiefs" as the team's new moniker. The short-lived Texans need consideration when discussing the Chiefs' storied history, which includes three AFL championships, a record during the short-lived tenure of the AFL, and winning three out of the five Super Bowls in which they've competed, with their sixth Super Bowl appearance taking place in 2024 (via Pro Football Reference). The first quarterback for the Texans, and therefore the Chiefs, was a former Baylor University football player named Cotton Davidson.

Francis Marion "Cotton" Davidson was born on a cattle farm on November 30, 1931 in Gatesville, Texas, per Scott's Funeral Home. He graduated from Gatesville High School and went to Baylor University, where he played football and met Carolyn Mabery. The two wed shortly after his graduation and were married for 68 years at the time of his death on December 23, 2022. Davidson played for the Baltimore Colts before he came to the Texans. He was the fifth overall pick in the 1954 NFL draft. In a 2014 interview with the Baltimore Sun, he recalled the first time he "really felt like he produced for the Colts."

An impressive moment in Colts football history

On December 4, 1954, as reported by the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Colts played the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Colts were down by two points and 80 yards from the end zone with just two minutes remaining in the game when quarterback Cotton Davidson made seven completions in a row. The Colts ultimately won the game with a field goal with a mere 12 seconds left on the clock. A week later, he performed an even more impressive set of seven passes, and an overall ten plays in a game against the San Francisco 49ers with the 49ers ahead 10-7, but the eventual field goal failed, the 49ers won, and that was unexpectedly the end of Davidson's career with the Colts. 

As he told the Sun, "I left town feeling good, knowing I was the only one of three quarterbacks coming back the next year. But when I got home, there was a letter from the Army saying they wanted me for two years. All I did in the service was play football and baseball at Fort Bliss. When I returned to the Colts in 1957, another guy was wearing No. 19." The guy was Johnny Unitas, about whom Davidson said, "John was top of the line. We never had a cross word. I backed him up that season and you knew that son of a gun was going to be the guy." 

From Dallas to Oakland to Baylor

Cotton Davidson went to play for Calgary in the Canadian Football League, per the Baltimore Sun. A shoulder injury in 1959 sent him back to the States, where he coached at his alma mater, Baylor University, for a year before playing for the Dallas Texans. According to Powers Sports Memorabilia, Davidson spent two years in Dallas, leading the team to 8-6 and 6-8 records, respectively. The site referred to him as "a placeholder for bigger things to come." Davidson moved on to the Oakland Raiders for seven years before retiring as a player. He was an AFL All-Star in 1961 and was named the All-Star Game MVP. He returned as an All-Star in 1963. 

After his time in the AFL, Davidson returned to Baylor and served as the football team's offensive coach for 21 years. The Sun noted that Davidson and his wife lived on the family's 700-acre cattle ranch, where Davidson "puttered around" mending fences as needed and occasionally playing a little catch with one of his 12 grandchildren. Quoting Davidson: "I can still throw a decent ball — just not very far." In November 2021, Davidson's home town of Gateville, Texas honored him with a celebration and a proclamation from Mayor Gary Chumley declaring November 27 to be Cotton Davidson Day (via the Gatesville Messenger.) According to his 2022 obituary, Davidson "is remembered by loved ones for his kindness, former players for his fairness, and fans by his tight spiral."