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Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Chiefs’ Grunhard might miss game against Raiders

October 31, 2000

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— Tim Grunhard's streak of 120 consecutive starts for Kansas City could come to an end at what he would call the worst possible time.

The Chiefs (5-3) travel to Oakland on Sunday to meet their archrival Raiders (7-1) with nothing less than the AFC West title on the line. A second loss to the Raiders would almost doom any chance the Chiefs still have.

But an ankle injury Grunhard sustained in Sunday's 24-19 victory over Seattle had him on crutches and in pain.

"It will be close. But I'm going to do everything in my power ... massage, acupuncture ... to get back," Grunhard said Monday.

"If we were playing against maybe an NFC opponent, I wouldn't push it as much. But this is the Raiders. This is a big game for us. I'm not a big fan of the Raiders as it is. So I'd hate to sit out this game."

Grunhard, who last year became the first Chiefs center to play in the Pro Bowl since 1977, has not sat out a game since 1993. The anchor of the offensive line, the 11-year veteran is also a greatly valued team leader.

In a do-or-die game for the Chiefs if they hope to catch the Raiders, he would be sorely missed. A 20-17 loss at home to the Raiders on Oct. 15 demoralized him about as much as any loss the Chiefs have had during his distinguished career.

"I think (his leadership) is the most important thing," head coach Gunther Cunningham said. "Donald Willis can go in there and play very effectively. I don't want to lose him just for the simple reason that he does give us the leadership."

Grunhard's streak of 120 straight starts is the longest by any current member of the team, and means a lot to him.

"I'd be lying if I said (the streak) wasn't on my mind," said Grunhard. "One hundred and twenty games in a row and all of a sudden you miss one. I was laying in bed last night 'cause I couldn't sleep.

"I think George Bush was president when I first started it. (Right guard) Will Shields was a rookie and he's an old man now. It's been a while. So hopefully things will work out for the best. I'm going to give it my best shot."

Grunhard had an MRI on Monday but didn't expect to know the results until today.

"They saw a couple of things in there but it was old. It's nothing new," Cunningham said. "He was rolled up on it. If anybody can get ready, he can."

During his streak, Grunhard has had many close calls but always managed to get well enough by game day.

"Because it is the Raiders, I'm going to push it as hard as I can," Grunhard said. "It's going to be a close one."

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