I’m not really sure why that was—the raucous atmosphere at Arrowhead stadium (though I’ve never been to a game there), Derrick Thomas, or something entirely celestial that makes me a savage for perpetual disappointment.
I have lived in New York and California, so whenever a Chiefs game is on TV it is a big deal. The world comes to a stand still. Plans are canceled, people are stood up and the Chiefs are the be-all and end-all for three and a half hours.
This was the case yesterday when the Chiefs got pummeled by the Patriots on Monday Night Football in one of the most inevitable outcomes to a game in the history of sports. I was watching with a friend from high school and his father, who I have known since I was a small child. At some point during the track meet that was the Patriots’ onslaught in the third quarter my friend’s father turned to me and said, “Wow Danny, you really are a gluten for punishment.”
That got me thinking, is there a team in football, or all of sports for that matter, that is more difficult to root for than the Chiefs?
I thought about it for some time and came to the conclusion that, at least to the first part of the question, the answer is an emphatic, “no.”
Sure, they’ve won a Super Bowl—but that was 40 years ago. In my lifetime (I was born in 1988) it has been one disappointment after another.
There is the obvious like the last time Kansas City won a playoff game was on Jan. 16, 1994 against the Houston Oilers—and yes, they don’t exist anymore.
Let’s put that in perspective for a second. On Jan. 16, 1994, Bill Clinton was four days away from finishing his first year in office; All For Love by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting was the No. 1 song in America; Forrest Gump, the Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction were all a few months away from being released in theaters and NBA players still wore short-shorts.
Joe Montana quarterbacked the Chiefs that day and Marcus Allen was their running back. Warren Moon was under center for Houston.
And there have been bad years since then—the 6-26 stretch from 2007-2008 comes to mind.
But frankly, it is not those bad years that make the Chiefs so hard to root for—it is the promise of something better but yet always disappoints.
In Kansas City everyone expects the Royals to be terrible. Heck, they haven’t even made the playoffs since 1985! Just as in Cleveland people have an incredibly low bar for the Browns, and the same goes for Detroit and the Lions until this year. Other teams such as former perennial league laughing stock New Orleans have turned it around in recent years.
But not the Chiefs. Seemingly each year the Chiefs have promise and they fail to deliver on it. From 2001-2005 Kansas City had arguably (and I’m willing to make the argument) one of the best offenses in the history of football. Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Green and Dante Hall created must-see TV every week. But even during that time, the Chiefs played in just two playoff games, losing them both.
The 2003 season looked to be the year. The Chiefs started 9-0, finished 13-3 and even earned a first-round bye. But they squared off with Peyton Manning and the Colts in the divisional round and watching that game was like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Or, more accurately, it was like being tortured for three hours, knowing all along that at the end, you are still going to perish.
The Chiefs offense kept scoring, but there was no way the defense could force Indianapolis to punt. And they didn’t—all game long. The one time that Indianapolis faced a fourth down the Chiefs had too many men on the field giving the Colts a first down. Colts 38, Chiefs 31 (and that Colts field goal came at the end of the first half—given ample time, it would have been a TD).
And then there are seasons like this one, when the Chiefs have a promising team young team coming off of a division title, only for it’s star players to catch the torn ACL bug like it was cholera in the 19th century.
The fact is, the Chiefs remain one of football’s storied and classiest franchises. They are likeable. They don’t have a controversial owner like the Redskins or Cowboys and they don’t have unrealistic or disillusioned fans. Chiefs’ fans deserve a winner.
Some of you may be saying, “You are being greedy, Dan, try being a fan of _________ team.” Yes, I am a Yankees’ fan. I have seen championships. I am not a Cleveland sports fan who suffers in every sport every year. But I maintain that there is no tougher team to root for year-in and year-out than Kansas City.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments or at @dbohm1 on Twitter.