KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A former assistant coach for the Chiefs during their Super Bowl IV win has died.
The family of Darrel Burton “Pete” Brewster said his death was unexpected, but the 89-year-old lived a long and healthy life.
“It was sudden. For us, it’s been tough, but for him we’re thankful,” said Debbie Wildesen, his eldest daughter. “He was our rock.”
Brewster almost didn’t have a football career.
“His mother would not let him play football, so his older sister forged the signature, and so he was able to play football his senior year,” Wildesen said.
That small act from his sister would ultimately lead to Brewster being drafted into the National Football League after playing football at basket at Purdue University.
The tight end played professional football for nine years before becoming a receivers coach for the Minnesota Vikings and later the Kansas City Chiefs in 1964.
“Hank Stram had been a coach on [Dad’s] college team and knew him,” Wildesen said of how her father came to the Chiefs.
Brewster’s daughters said their dad loved coaching and had a gift for teaching.
“He had played the position and was able to teach it in a good way and a way in which players listened and respected him,” Wildesen said.
She and her sister, Chris, were teenagers when the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in 1970. They were at the game.
“It was exciting. This was right before the Super Bowl,” she said point to a framed picture in her living room. “That’s the receivers. There’s Fred Arbanas, Otis Taylor, Gloster Richardson, Daddy and Frank Pitts.”
Fred Arbanas called Brewster his idol. He followed his career while in high school in Detroit.
“Here, I got a guy that was one of my heroes when I was in high school. He’s my coach now, so that was a real treat for me,” Arbanas said.
He said Brewster helped define his players’ talents. Arbanas said Brewster wasn’t like the other coaches, who would sometimes scream and yell at players. Brewster kept his cool.
“Pete would just take you aside and talk to you like a man,” he recalled. “All of us guys really appreciated that.”
Bob Johnson, who rode on Warpaint from 1963 to 1980, called Brewster special.
“We were very good friends, and my son is named after him,” Johnson said.
He first met Brewster at a home game during the 1964-65 season.
“I used to wear a pair of light pants, sleepless shirt and a war bonnet to ride that horse, and we were in the old stadium and I was freezing my rear end off, and Pete said, ‘Wait!’ He went in the locker room and gave me this coat. This is a sideline coat. The first that Chiefs ever had,” Johnson said pointing the coat he was wearing.
Whether it was on the field or off, both Arbanas and Johnson said they were blessed to have known a man who was not just a role model but also a great friend.
Brewster’s daughters now have a lot of his mementos from his days with the Chiefs, including his championship ring, a celebratory bottle of champagne that’s never been opened, the jacket he wore at the game and countless other keepsakes from that era.
His family said he was just as excited for this new era in Chiefs football as he was 50 years ago.
“He’d go to church and then he’d come home and get in his recliner and he’d have the ball game on,” said Wildesen. “He could see there was something special.”
The 89-year-old may have coached from his recliner during his last days on earth, but his daughters said their dad will keep coaching from heaven.