I used to cover the Kansas City Chiefs football team as a newspaper photographer. The 1993 season was fun for me, not because the Chiefs had recently acquired quarterback Joe Montana and running back Marcus Allen, but because of Dan Meers, better known as K.C. Wolf, the team’s mascot.
Meers called me in 1992 because he wanted to purchase a photo I had shot of K.C. Wolf that ran in our newspaper. He still posts the image on kcchiefs.com. When I delivered the photo to him, I asked him if I could document him for an entire football season as K.C. Wolf. He agreed and we began the project in 1993.
I had unrestricted access around Arrowhead Stadium. I shot Dan worshipping in the chapel, getting taped in the training room, visiting with players in the locker room, and exercising in the weight room. He was always one of the first people to the stadium on Sundays and usually one of the last ones to leave after the game.
Looking back, it’s funny to me how I could attend every home game of the Chiefs 1993 season and not shoot one photo of the players. Instead, I was trying to keep up with Dan. He never stopped dancing, or signing autographs, or shaking hands. He told me that his furry suit was heavy and hot and he could sweat out as much as nine pounds during a game. He was constantly having to rehydrate himself. Once, I made a photo of him collapsed in the team tunnel after a game. He laid there, exhausted, as the media walked by him to the post-game press conference. It was my favorite photo of him during our time together.
This is Dan’s 21st year as K.C. Wolf. I once asked him how someone becomes a professional mascot. He replied that he had lots of experience. As a student at the University of Missouri, he was Truman the Tiger, the school’s mascot.