It’s in my blood.
Growing up during the early 90’s, the Chiefs were one of the elite in football. When teams like the Cowboys, 49er’s, and yes the Denver Broncos were stockpiling championships, the Chiefs were busy kicking ass and taking names; not championships, but that’s another can of worms.
My father was the loyalist of Chief fans.
I remember the Chiefs last postseason win and thinking how great it was to be a fan of a winning team. But my dad was always sure to remind me of how many horrific seasons he had to sit through during the 70’s and 80’s and that this was his payoff.
Thinking back on it now, I’m thinking, ‘at least you got a Super Bowl’.
My fandom started then and never wavered. Regardless of the year, record, or off the field belly-flops, every Sunday was Chiefs Sunday.
My dad was never in a position regionally to buy season tickets but that didn’t keep him from owning nearly every piece of Chiefs paraphernalia under the moon. Each Chiefs Sunday he would drag boxes of official Chiefs merchandise out of his closet and create a thrown of sorts with his gear slung over his favorite recliner.
He adorned himself in Chiefs pants, shirts, socks; he even had a Chiefs tattoo.
So when I say I’m modeled after a true fan, I mean it.
No I don’t have a Chiefs tattoo but during football season, my Sunday’s revolve around the Chiefs schedule. I told my wife on one of our first few dates that if she wanted to be with me forever she had to understand that nothing would take place during a Chiefs game - those were my demands.
She laughed however, I did not.
She would later come to realize the seriousness of that conversation and has gratefully accepted and adhered to those terms (I know guys, be jealous).
As a fan, you can imagine my excitement a few years back when I got the opportunity to work for Nick Athan at Warpaint Illustrated and being able to cover the Chiefs from the ‘inside’.
Seeing the team I had grown up literally worshipping was a bit of an out of body experience. It was like starring into a fishbowl and then finding yourself suddenly swimming with the fish. It was like Dorothy pulling the curtain back (or was that Toto?) and finding a man behind the curtain instead of something great and powerful.
This was my experience covering the Chiefs professionally but my great and powerful Oz was Scott Pioli. I realized quickly things were very different from the inside. You could see the business side of things and the heart of the Chiefs appeared to be more mechanical than warm.
The first Chiefs training camp I was standing with several local reporters watching a very boring walkthrough practice. Despite the lack of entertainment, drones of Chiefs Nation showed up to support their team in St. Joseph, Mo.
As I stood there with the rest of the media, trying but failing to not look out of place, I began to understand the difference between being a fan and covering a team. Throughout the day the media members spent a great deal of the less than entertaining portions of two-a-days taking shots at the many fans decked out in retro-jerseys, homemade shirts, pants, caps, and capes. Standing there I couldn’t help but think, ‘there making fun of me’.
For the next two seasons I covered every home game from the press box which my dad was very jealous of. I have since moved on from Warpaint Illustrated but am gladly enjoying my Fall Sundays again.
I’ve not been too eager to write about the Chiefs again, adjusting back to being a fan was tougher than I thought. I had to remind myself I could cheer again so the last thing I wanted to do was try to mush together a postgame article.
But that all changed a few weeks back when right tackle Eric Winston accused 70,000 fans of cheering Matt Cassel’s concussion. It wasn’t so much the comments from Winston that got to me; I actually found it refreshing to hear a player stick up for his teammate like that not to mention the acceptance of a miserable ending to their life.
What really got under my skin was the national perception of Chiefs fans that revved up my passion for the Chiefs again. I thought it a little short sided to call 50,000 Chiefs faithful “bad fans” when there were still 50,000 fans still at a game to cheer on a bad team in an un-winnable game.
Chiefs fans aren’t bad fans, in fact they are pretty smart fans (we don’t cheer when the offense is on the field, not all cities have figured that out yet). Chiefs fans are just frustrated but it’s important not to let the nonsense going on in the front office get you down.
You’re not setting your Sunday’s aside to cheer for Pioli, you’re making the Chiefs you’re number one priority because you want to they’re your team.
I know it’s getting bad and Pioli’s fate is resting on quarterback Brady Quinn to save his job but don’t jump ship just yet Kansas City. This is still the same Chiefs that you grew up idolizing. Arrowhead is still the same field that players like Joe Montana and Derrick Thomas used to wow thousands in.
There’s much talk about people selling off their season tickets and going to Louisburg on Sunday’s instead of watching the Chiefs but let’s keep our priorities straight. When you sell of your tickets, end your tailgating, and turn off your TV set on Sunday’s it’s not the Chiefs you’re hurting, it’s yourself.
That intrinsic “it” or heart of the Chiefs doesn’t live in the top of the Chiefs practice facilities, it’s built in the community with the fans (Love him or hate him, former GM Carl Peterson knew that better than anyone).
Don’t let poor team management take what’s yours. Fly your banners, wear black, and write your requests on posters clearly so Clark Hunt can hear your united voice loud and clear. These are YOUR Chiefs, don’t allow them to ruin Sunday’s---ruin theirs.
Don’t turn off your TV’s or pawn your ticket to a friend, who gives them to a neighbor, who gives them to the guy walking down the street who doesn’t bother going to the game at all.
This is Raider week Chiefs fans, relish your Sunday reward. Enjoy young players like Justin Houston rise to the ranks of elite in the NFL. Cheer for Brady Quinn to turn this club around, he probably won’t but who knows. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Chiefs have the best running back in the NFL.
Sunday’s are for you to get through the next week. Cheering for your team makes waking up Monday morning that much easier knowing your team’s got another shot to get a win at the end of the week. When you let Pioli take that away from you, he’s won.
And besides, Louisburg can wait till spring.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Right or wrong shouldn't the fan base stick together?
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