Former Broncos star Mark Schlereth talks Chiefs rivalry, gives Chris Jones take

Former Broncos guard Mark Schlereth talked to FanSided about his ex-team's longstanding rivalry with the Chiefs as well as the current Chris Jones situation.
Mark Schlereth
Mark Schlereth / Daniel Zuchnik/GettyImages

Former Broncos guard Mark Schlereth talked to FanSided about his ex-team's longstanding rivalry with the Chiefs as well as the current Chris Jones situation.

There's no shortage of NFL rivalries that will light a fire under even the most casual football fan. Former Denver Broncos guard Mark Schlereth had some things he needed to get off his chest about the infamous Broncos-Chiefs rivalry, which in truth has become more of a lopsided beating than a competitive matchup in recent years.

Schelereth, a three-time Super Bowl champion, spent the first six years of his NFL career playing for the Washington Commanders and the next six playing for the Broncos. In his 12-year tenure, he said the toughest road stadium to play at was none other than Arrowhead Stadium.

In an interview with Stacking The Box's Sterling Holmes, the ex-Broncos guard said, "I can tell you beyond, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the toughest place to play a road game in the National Football League is Kansas City. The fans sit right on top of you. They're just yelling at you. You can't hear yourself think out there on the football field offensively."

Based on Schlereth's six years in the AFC West, he said Denver had to tear down around 35 to 40 percent of its offensive playbook. "We threw out all our seven step drops, we threw out our five step drops that had multiple hitches, we just threw them out of our offense."

"We couldnt execute plays because [Arrowhead] was so loud and the pass rush was so vicious."

Mark Schlereth

Keep in mind this was a Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs team back then. In the mid 90s when Schlereth was playing, the Chiefs were going through a quarterback carousel of Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, and Rich Gannon.

As Schlereth notes, it was the Chiefs' defense that did most of the talking. In 1995 and 1997, Kansas City's defense ranked first in the league in total points allowed. In total yards allowed, the Chiefs ranked second and 11th respectively.

And with the 12th man that was Arrowhead Stadium, that Chiefs' squad must have felt wholly impenetrable. If pressure makes diamonds, surviving Arrowhead Stadium makes "pretty damn good" football teams.

Ex-Broncos guard Mark Schlereth spills on Chiefs rivalry and Chris Jones

Schlereth said, "If you can go into that environment and you can win a game against the Chiefs or play tough against the Chiefs, you're a pretty damn good football team."

As far as the last decade, the Chiefs-Broncos rivalry has favored the team in red: the Chiefs have beaten the Broncos in 15 straight games. It's no wonder Schlereth has "so much respect" and "so much hatred" at the same time for a rival that has now cemented its status at the top of the AFC West.

Pivoting to the topic of Chris Jones' ongoing holdout with the Chiefs, Schlereth unashamedly took Jones' side and said he didn't have a problem with players using their leverage to get a better deal.

Schlereth said, "The way contracts are written, they're always one-sided to the side of the ownership. And I always say a contract might as well be written on toilet paper because the owners can just break them at will."

For any players wondering if their team is undervaluing them, Schlereth has a direct piece of advice: "You should get the most money available to you because the season is fleeting and you're one injury away from never playing again."

The other side of the coin, of course, is that many teams are trying to build sustainable Super Bowl-contending rosters and often can't afford to pay every player top-of-the-market money. After the 49ers made Nick Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in the league, Chris Jones has to be looking sideways at Bosa's $34 million annual average. Jones is only set to make $19.5 million in 2023.

"If you outplay your contract and youre one of the best players in the league, you should hold out."

Mark Schlereth

As for the perceived loyalty issues of players breaking their contracts, Schlereth has a counterpoint. He said, "I always get this from the fan base, like, 'Honor your contract! You signed a four- or five-year deal, honor it.' And I'm like, how come guys sign a five year deal and get bounced after one year? It happens all the time."

While it may seem strange for an ex-Bronco to support a current (but perhaps not for long) Chiefs player, Schlereth rooting for Jones' financial success just goes to show some things transcend football rivalries. Not a lot of things, but some things.

Out of both spite and awe, Schlereth will probably be watching this season closely to see if Patrick Mahomes can equal his number of Lombardi Trophies. Damn it if he does, but also, major respect.

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