Going Red For Fred

Going Red 4 Fred Arbanas

The Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City was awash in red Friday afternoon -- Chiefs red.

A sea of Chiefs flags adorned the courthouse grounds, and the team's logo was painted on the front lawn. Chiefs placards, the famous KC-inside-an-arrowhead against a red backdrop, filled the windows.

A crowd lined the courthouse steps, nearly everyone wearing red, mostly in the form of Chiefs jerseys and T-shirts, a few of which were custom-made for the occasion with a name and number printed on the front: "Arbanas 84."

On what was no ordinary Red Friday, Jackson County decided to "Go Red 4 Fred" in honor of longtime County Legislature and former Chief Fred Arbanas.

Arbanas wore No. 84 for the Chiefs during their glory days in the 1960s, playing for the Super Bowl IV champs before retiring in 1970. He became a County Legislature in 1973 -- the year the legislative body was first formed -- and has served the citizens of Jackson County throughout the 1970s, '80s, '90, the so-called "otts" and now the into the mid-teens of the 21st Century.

After 42 years as a County Legislature, Arbanas (3rd At-Large District) will be stepping down at year's end. He decided earlier this year not to seek another term.

The County celebrated his decades of public service and historic Chiefs career with a "Go Red" celebration featuring the Chiefs Alums, the Chiefs Cheerleaders, Arrowhead Stadium announcer Dale Carter, the KC Wolf and notorious super fan X-Factor.

"He wore No. 84 for the Chiefs, but he is No. 1 in our hearts here in Jackson County, the great Fred Arbanas," stated Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.
Arbanas appreciated the outpouring of affection.

"When I first caught wind of this a couple of days ago, I thought maybe there would be 10 or 20 people out here," he said. "But there's quite a few of you here. I want to thank you."

He noted the county has "come so far" in the last 42 years.

"The people who have been on the Legislature are some darn good people," he said. "I'm proud to have served with them."

Former Chiefs On Hand

The celebration reunited Arbanas with two of his Super Bowl IV teammates -- both of them Hall of Famers -- quarterback Len Dawson and place kicker Jan Stenerud. Other former Chiefs on hand included Walter White (tight end 1975-79), Gary Spani (linebacker 1978-86), Dave Lindstrom (defensive end 1978-85), Deron Cherry (defensive back 1981-91) and Bill Mass (defensive tackle 1984-92).

"Fred has been a friend for a long time," Dawson said. "He was an outstanding player, a tough, tough individual, and I can't believe he's been in this for 42 years. That shows you how tough he is.

"Fred, you've done good. Congratulations on two careers, one in football and the other in the Legislature."

Len Dawson and Fred Arbanas
Fred Arbanas thanks his old friend, former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson, for helping him continue his football career after Arbanas lost the sight in one eye.

Spani, the Chiefs Director of Special Events, spoke on behaf of the team and its owners, the Hunt Family: "We want to congratulate Fred for not only being a great player, but obviously for an outstanding career representing Jackson County. He is truly a pillar in our community."

A Special Gift

County Executive Mike Sanders noted county employees wanted to express their gratitude for Arbanas' long service. More than 1,000 autographed five different footballs circulated throughout the county the last three weeks. The balls were given to Arbanas Friday.

Fellow Legislators were able to attend the celebration: Scott Burnett (1st District), Ken Bacchus (2nd District), Bob Spence (6th District) and Dan Tarwater (4th District) were able to attend the event.

"I didn't know Fred Arbanas when he played football," said Burnett, "but I've know him as a Legislator the last 16 years. I want to thank you for the lessons I've learned from you, thank you for the example of your integrity, your honesty and your hard work.

"It has been a pleasure serving with you."
Fred Arbanas and Mike Sanders
Fred Arbanas and County Executive Mike Sanders shake hands. (Below) The County Executive and Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson make a different kind of connection.
Len Dawson to Mike Sanders

The Last Of The Original County Legislators

Fred Arbanas has served on the Jackson County Legislature since 1973, when it was first formed. His 42 years of service witnessed many changes in the county, including the dramatic expansion of the parks system.

St. Louis' Loss, KC's Big Win!
Read all about Fred Arbanas' remarkable career with the Kansas City Chiefs, including being draft by both the Chiefs and St. Louis Cardinals -- as both a tight end and linebacker. He played in some football's most historical games, including Super Bowls I & IV.