Welcome to our latest interview series at SB Nation Kansas City entitled Catching Up, where we speak with former KC-area athletes to see what they're up to now and hear about life out of the spotlight. First up for us is former Kansas City Chiefs defensive great Bill Maas, and luckily for the KC community, the former DT has stuck around to raise his family and stay involved in charitable events on behalf of the team.
In part one of our conversation, Maas reflects on the reasons he's stayed here in Kansas City and what it was like to go through the NFL Draft himself as a player. As the No. 5 overall player taken in the '84 draft, he knows a thing or two about the pressure that comes with being a team's major investment in a defensive lineman.
SBNKC: You're involved with the Chiefs Ambassadors. Can you talk about that?
Bill Maas: They're a group of former players who have made Kansas City their home. They live here and raise their families and there's several of us, from Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, Deron Cherry, myself, Walter White and others. It's a bunch of guys from older to younger ones like Mike Maslowski and Kevin Lockett. We're active in the community for the Chiefs as far as charitable events, good will, raise money and come to a lot of outings and functions for them.
Do you guys get together often?
Oh yeah. Our group meets the first Wednesday of every month as part of our bylaws. We always meet with a Chiefs representative. Bill Chapin, who is the new marketing guy, is someone we work in conjunction with. We're at games. We do a lot of requests from corporations. As far as the guys, we all get together quite often.
Are you surprised by the number of former players who settle in the region?
You know, it's a great place to live. You have good schools. It's a good community. It's a close-knit community, too. Everybody's always pulling for one another. It's just part of it. When you get drafted, you get a home there. Nowadays things change quite often with free agency and whatnot. Not only do the Chiefs have players here, but there's a ton of ex-Royals who live here. It's just a good place to raise the family, so it makes sense.
I'd love to chat about the draft since that just happened. Did you watch the draft or pay close attention?
Heck, yeah! Matter of fact, we were over there at draft day for the big party at Arrowhead signing autographs and talking to fans. Then I went home and watched it for the remainder of the weekend as well.
You were the No. 5 pick overall. Does that bring back memories of the weekend?
You know, it was really exciting. It's that feeling that's a status kind of thing. You wonder if you'll go in the first round and then you wonder how high you will go. Where are you rated among your peers? All of that stuff comes into play. It's a feeling of being wanted, that someone really wants you. I thought that I was either going to go to a winning team and help carry on that winning tradition or going somewhere that I could be a foundation for the team turning around.
Mine was obviously the latter. I think there'd been about 15 years of losing. Two years after I got to Kansas City, we wound up in the playoffs. Then Marty Schottenheimer came along and it just became a way of life really. It was neat. It was neat to be a part of that.
When you were playing at Pitt, did you have any idea that the Chiefs were going to be taking you?
No. Absolutely not. Not at all. As a matter of fact, San Diego was drafting fourth and Philadelphia, my hometown, was drafting sixth. They both told me they were going to take me. Well, San Diego didn't and I never heard from Kansas City. Then they called me up and told me they were drafting me. It was really a shock. I remember my father was saying, 'Well, where are they? I'm looking at the world atlas. Ask them if it's Kansas City, Kansas or Kansas City, Missouri.' That was really interesting.
Were you disheartened at all that it wasn't Philly since that is your hometown?
Oh, no. Not at all. I was ecstatic actually that I went so high. I had no idea I was going to go that high. I thought I could be a top ten pick based on what was being said, but there were a lot of teams in that top ten. I was the first defensive player taken that year, so that was a big deal. And I knew I was going to a team that Todd Blackledge was on, and I'd played against him at Penn State. I knew they had two great defensive ends in Art Still and Mike Bell. You're only as good as the people around you and I was really fortunate. I started out with those two and ended up with Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. So I did okay.
Check out the second half of our conversation with Maas coming up tomorrow.