What No One Tells You About the KC Chiefs’ Mascot
He appears to be like any other mascot. But KC Wolf is an amazing story lurking inside a hip swinging, head banging, tail wagging, masked work suit. Dan Meers has served as the mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs for over 32 years, and he’s on his way to his 3rd Super Bowl!
But that’s not what makes him so amazing. Dan began his mascot career in 1986 serving as Truman Tiger for the University of Missouri-Columbia and won the 1989 National Collegiate Mascot Championship. After graduating with honors, he started receiving offers for working as a professional mascot. (Oh how I wish I had known that was a viable career! I had the privilege of serving as the only female mascot for my alma mater, Wake Forest University. )
Dan began his professional career as Fredbird, the mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball team. But he was soon offered a job with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the rest is history. But who is this man behind the mask? Hearing his incredible story will give you a greater appreciation for the character we see on the sidelines and in public appearances.
Being a professional mascot has literally almost cost Dan Meers his life. In 1993, he was practicing a stunt he was planning to perform at an upcoming home game. Inside Arrowhead Stadium, he was to drop 20 feet on a bungee cord and have a zip line carry him over the field. But the bungee cord snapped and a failed zipline sent him free falling for 75 feet, landing on the seats in the upper deck of the stadium. He landed so hard the stadium seats were torn from the cement. He suffered several broken ribs, a collapsed lung, fractured tailbone, crushed sacrum, and a broken T-12 vertebra.
In the midst of an uncertain prognosis, the doctor told him he was lucky to be alive and incredibly fortunate he wasn’t paralyzed. His surgery, hospitalization, and subsequent painful rehabilitation lasted 6 months causing him to question, even if for a brief time, why God would allow such a thing to happen in his life.
Yet he recovered and returned to his job with added optimism, joy, humor, and insight. Because, you see, Dan Meers does not believe in accidents! He believes in taking every INCIDENT and turning it into an opportunity for God. In the midst of his painful accident and long recovery period he assessed that he had a choice. He could “rise and shine or rise and whine.” It was a choice he had to make, and he chose to make it an overwhelming victory instead of a loss.
“We can use [the choices we make] to make an impact not only in our own lives, but more importantly in the lives of others,” he said. “I believe as Christians that’s what we’re called to do, that God didn’t put us on this earth to make a living. He put us here to make an impact.”
He continued: “The hard thing about pain is it will make you into someone you don’t want to be because it makes you self-focused. All you can focus on is your pain. … I don’t want my focus to be on me. I want my focus to be No. 1 on the Lord and No. 2 on those around me…[T]here’s a lot of joy in the Christian life. It drives me crazy when I meet Christians who walk around like they’ve been sucking on a lemon. I made up my mind I didn’t want to be that guy, you know? If we want people to be attracted to our Savior, we can’t go walking around like we’ve been sucking on a lemon.”
Dan Meers became a Christian when he was 18 years old. His faith is rock solid, and he has always believed that God (quite literally) has his back. When he interviewed for the job with the Chiefs, he was transparent about his faith and told them he would like to use his platform as a mascot to speak to groups…not as a mascot, but as a man of God.
When Meers first started it was at a time when mascots were discouraged from taking off their masks and revealing their alter ego. But the Chiefs have always been about making an impact on the community and the world. Lamar Hunt, their founder, modeled that character trait. And the forward-thinking Chiefs’ organization allowed Meers to make appearances by the thousands in more than 13 countries around the world, building authentic relationships and being a positive force as a motivational speaker.
There is no off-season for him! He travels the world both in and out of costume. His goal is to make a difference in this world, whether it is relating to kids at a school, at an orphanage in Tanzania, or speaking to a conference room full of people.
Tony Dungee, who coached in Kansas City under Marty Shottenheimer, is one of Meers’ mentors. Dungee modeled both character and leadership, helping to make Meers into the man he is today. “I’m passionate about encouraging others to live a life of influence,” Meers says. “Every day should be lived with character, purpose, and passion. My passion is my faith, family, and impacting my world through relationships.”
His wit, optimism, perseverance, and humility have made him a sought-after speaker for audiences of all ages. His writing skills have only enhanced his popularity. During the pain of recovery, Meers chose to write, authoring his first book with the apt title, Wolves Can’t Fly. The proceeds from these chronicles of his experience are all donated to charity. He has since written, “Mascot with a Mission.”
Dan Meers has the longest tenure for a professional mascot in NFL history. In 2016 the NFL awarded him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. And for every year since, they have named the award after him…the “Dan Meers NFL Mascot Lifetime Achievement Award.” It is NOT presented annually. It is ONLY presented at the Convention when someone is deemed worthy of receiving it.
Whether the Chiefs win or lose on Sunday, Dan Meers is making a difference. He is not just making a living but is making an impact. He is just as certain that God is still up to something in his life today. Are you?
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