The Kansas City Chiefs are the hardest team in football to root for

The Kansas City Chiefs are the hardest team in football to root for and here is why

11/22/11 in NFL   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

I am from New York but my father is from Kansas City. He continues to be a huge Royals and Chiefs fan, but early in life I adopted many of the New York teams—the Knicks, the Rangers and the Yankees. But never the Jets or the Giants. I was to be a Chiefs fan.

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. 

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11/22/11   |   kramer   |   11003 respect

hskrdave wrote:
 Great Article, but I think you're young with semi-blinders.

Are you just talking about professional sports?  Ask Kramer about his love for the Pirates and what they (haven't) done over the last 20 years.  The Royals are in that same boat on the Baseball side.  Fans of the Knicks are living on many past glories.  The Bills (and Buffalo in general) have a very loyal fan base, and they haven't had much to cheer about in years (including having a "home" game played in Toronto now).

My brother is a Chiefs fan, and as a Redskins fan myself, I know all about wanting to quit my team.  But didn't the Chiefs win their division within the last 5 years? Haven't they been semi-riddled with injuries to key players?  Larry Johnson was a workhorse and provided many great moments.

If you don't want to be a Chiefs fan anymore, that can be understandable.  That is if you are only a fan because of your father.  I know with my kids I have tried not to force my teams on them (other than Nebraska, really they have no choice).  I would say pick a team that you can honestly talk about though.  No one wants to call you a bandwagon jumper.

Once again, Great Article.

I was going to mention the Bucs, but it looks like you already did that for me, Dave.  19 losing years and counting, no team in any pro sport has done that.

11/22/11   |   jaysinw   |   4839 respect

Dan_B wrote:
Funny you ask that question. I was actually living in the SF Bay Area during the end of the Bonds Era and the years that have followed. Giants fans had blinders on when looking at Bonds. He was a hero, and will continue to be cheered at the ballpark. That is partially a product of the memories he provides those fans and partially because his alleged steroid use was not unique to him. In fact, I'm all but certain a roided player played for all 30 MLB teams at some point.

I think it would be hard to drop a favorite team because of the actions of one player these days. If you did you'd have no one to root for. How many teams have nobody that has been arrested, been suspended, been caught in a sex scandal, etc? I'm not sure if there is a single team. So the short answer to your question, in my opinion, is that for every fan that line is different. For some it is about wins and losses, for others it is something. My dad, who I spoke about in the above article, always rooted for University of Missouri sports teams too--but he said to hell with Mizzou now that they are moving to the SEC. So to each, his own. 

Being a Chargers fan, I understand where you are coming from. to many times they have given us fans something to cheer about and get our hopes up so high, only to watch them slip slowly down. This year again they did instead of starting off slow they won and now losing game after painful game, by 7 or less except the last against the Bears, where it was by 11.

11/22/11   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

coryjwilson wrote:
The more I give it thought, the more I believe that MLB needs competition.  The lack of a competitive league with the AL and NL gives them too much power.

I used to not think this but I know feel that MLB needs to have its antitrust exemption removed.

11/22/11   |   E____   |   196 respect

I have been a Chief Fan since the 1st Super Bowl, even thou the Packers won it was still a game at half time. I was 12 at the time, the late  70's - 80's where pretty where hard to take. But still to this Day will ride the up & down ride as Being a Chief Fan

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

ML31 wrote:
Yes...  But I think MLB with the changes they have made to the game over the last 20 years, have been doing so on the assumption that there are few fans of the game itself and more people are only interested in their team.  Which I think is a flawed concept.  A great many are interested in the game.  One of the excuses for the wild card was that it kept more fans interested in the season longer.  That is only true IF fans don't care about the game but only their team.  As if fans don't care about a real pennant race unless their favorite team is involved.  I find that thinking absurd.

Whoever, since the "fan of the team only" marketing has been in place, MLB had reaped what it sowed.  More fans than ever aren't baseball fans but fans of their team only and don't really care what happens elsewhere in MLB.  Thus supporting the adage if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth.

The more I give it thought, the more I believe that MLB needs competition.  The lack of a competitive league with the AL and NL gives them too much power.

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

Dan_B wrote:
Oh, I will always be a Chiefs fan. The point of the article isn't that the Chiefs are the worst team in the league, that they don't win their division, or that have bad players. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The idea (perhaps not expressed well) is that the Chiefs, unlike say the Pirates or the Royals continually give fans a glimmer of hope--only to quickly let them down. The Bills are a great comparison, and to a lesser, lateral extent the Cubs in baseball. 

The article was not meant to say I'm jumping off the wagon, but more to explain that rye, "of course the Chiefs are getting obliterated on MNF" smile (though not a happy one) I got while watching last night's game.

Thanks for reading, and sorry about your Huskers last weekend!

My feelings are that every team in professional sports has about the same percentage of actual fans.  People that will support the team win, lose, or draw.  What gets obliterated is where to draw the line on where a teams authentic fan base ends. 

I've found myself feeling sympathetic for Cub's fans sometimes.  Not so much for the losing, because that's the burden a fan carries, but because they have to swim in the same waters with so many pseudo bandwagon jumpers.  If a man is wearing a Chiefs cap in NY and sees another wearing a Chiefs cap....they can nod with shared feelings.  A certian uniqueness and shared experience of triumph and futility.  When a person is wearing a Cubs cap...he might find himself surrounded on a train by 10 other people also wearing the same cap.  Maybe a few are also true fans, but there are just so many more who couldn't even tell you who was playing 3B that day at Wrigley.  It's just they wore the Cubs hat because it matched their clothing.

11/22/11   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

coryjwilson wrote:
What I've seen since about the time of the MLB strike is a general shift among the major sports to create more "casual fans." People that will spend discretionary income on tickets, etc, but who also have little long term invested interest. To me what will truly change the nature of sports on a large scale will be when large corporate supporters balk at financially supporting teams through luxury boxes and perks. A real problem, and especially with baseball, is the trend to be behind the ball instead of leading. I'm also opposed to the wild card based on integrity issues. What many people within the business of sports fail to realize is that a great number of fans are not just fans of a team..but fans of the game itself.

Yes...  But I think MLB with the changes they have made to the game over the last 20 years, have been doing so on the assumption that there are few fans of the game itself and more people are only interested in their team.  Which I think is a flawed concept.  A great many are interested in the game.  One of the excuses for the wild card was that it kept more fans interested in the season longer.  That is only true IF fans don't care about the game but only their team.  As if fans don't care about a real pennant race unless their favorite team is involved.  I find that thinking absurd.

Whoever, since the "fan of the team only" marketing has been in place, MLB had reaped what it sowed.  More fans than ever aren't baseball fans but fans of their team only and don't really care what happens elsewhere in MLB.  Thus supporting the adage if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth.

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

ML31 wrote:
I've seen it happen.  Actions taken by the league itself can cause fans to turn their back on the league in general.  I have a friend who felt betrayed by baseball when they went to the wild card playoff format after the '93 season.  And when the strike hit, he was fully prepared to support replacement players but when the court made its ruling and the settlement was no change whatsoever in the economic system, he just abandoned MLB completely.  He loved the NBA but recently gave up on that league and his favorite team as well.  I wish more fans would do what he did, actually.  It would send a message to those in charge that fans don't like what they are doing to their sports.

What I've seen since about the time of the MLB strike is a general shift among the major sports to create more "casual fans." People that will spend discretionary income on tickets, etc, but who also have little long term invested interest. To me what will truly change the nature of sports on a large scale will be when large corporate supporters balk at financially supporting teams through luxury boxes and perks. A real problem, and especially with baseball, is the trend to be behind the ball instead of leading. I'm also opposed to the wild card based on integrity issues. What many people within the business of sports fail to realize is that a great number of fans are not just fans of a team..but fans of the game itself.

11/22/11   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

coryjwilson wrote:
I'd go out on a limb and say there aren't too many reasons to NOT support a team.  Part of the joy of being a fan is developing a bond throughout the years with a sports team.  In fact, most fans consider themselves "co-owners" of these "public trusts" we call teams.  From our teams derives a fan passion that can't be matched among other corporations.  No one will stand outside their local grocery store and deride managerial moves or take their shirt off and paint there chest when the price of a head of lettuce goes down $.50.

One reason I could possible think of for a fan to cut ties with an organization is if the team is relocated.  I wouldn't hold it against a Cleveland Browns fan in the mid-90's if they didn't want to switch allegiances when they became the Baltimore Ravens.  Certainly when the Expos became the Nationals. 

In my mind, the only clear cut reason for a true fan to balk is when public trust is broken. 

I've seen it happen.  Actions taken by the league itself can cause fans to turn their back on the league in general.  I have a friend who felt betrayed by baseball when they went to the wild card playoff format after the '93 season.  And when the strike hit, he was fully prepared to support replacement players but when the court made its ruling and the settlement was no change whatsoever in the economic system, he just abandoned MLB completely.  He loved the NBA but recently gave up on that league and his favorite team as well.  I wish more fans would do what he did, actually.  It would send a message to those in charge that fans don't like what they are doing to their sports.

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

ML31 wrote:
Well, I just felt qualified to comment on being a Giants fan in the Bonds era as I have been a Giants enthusiast for more than 30 years now.  To many, his use of banned substances didn't change their feeling for the team in anyway shape or form.  I only had a moral dilemea when the team was given the unearned playoff spot in the form of the wild card.

I agree when you say, "rooting for a team when things are bad, are what seperates the bandwagon fans from the casual supporters."  I would go even further in that I think losing teams filter out the casual fans from those who are more into the team....

I'd go out on a limb and say there aren't too many reasons to NOT support a team.  Part of the joy of being a fan is developing a bond throughout the years with a sports team.  In fact, most fans consider themselves "co-owners" of these "public trusts" we call teams.  From our teams derives a fan passion that can't be matched among other corporations.  No one will stand outside their local grocery store and deride managerial moves or take their shirt off and paint there chest when the price of a head of lettuce goes down $.50.

One reason I could possible think of for a fan to cut ties with an organization is if the team is relocated.  I wouldn't hold it against a Cleveland Browns fan in the mid-90's if they didn't want to switch allegiances when they became the Baltimore Ravens.  Certainly when the Expos became the Nationals. 

In my mind, the only clear cut reason for a true fan to balk is when public trust is broken. 

11/22/11   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

coryjwilson wrote:
Certainly, the issues with PHD's were league encompassing issues. I guess, that is a side issue from what was asked of the article. To me, rooting for a team when things are bad, are what seperates the bandwagon fans from the casual supporters. Any real fan who has been with their team for very long has probably seen ups and downs. It's the nature of sports. Outside of a 20 year old Yankee fan, I'm hard pressed to come up with a person who has never really seen their team struggle for any real period.

Well, I just felt qualified to comment on being a Giants fan in the Bonds era as I have been a Giants enthusiast for more than 30 years now.  To many, his use of banned substances didn't change their feeling for the team in anyway shape or form.  I only had a moral dilemea when the team was given the unearned playoff spot in the form of the wild card.

I agree when you say, "rooting for a team when things are bad, are what seperates the bandwagon fans from the casual supporters."  I would go even further in that I think losing teams filter out the casual fans from those who are more into the team....

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

ML31 wrote:
I can speak for being a fan of the Giants in the Bonds era.  I had no issues with it at all.  He never tested positive and I think if what was taking had any positive baseball effect at all it was just a placebo one.

What WAS difficult was when they were given a wild card playoff spot.  That was just plain harsh.  Talk about ethical boundaries being broken...  I was forced because of morals to hope my favorite team ever would lose in the post season.  I wouldn't wish that feeling on any fan.

Certainly, the issues with PHD's were league encompassing issues. I guess, that is a side issue from what was asked of the article. To me, rooting for a team when things are bad, are what seperates the bandwagon fans from the casual supporters. Any real fan who has been with their team for very long has probably seen ups and downs. It's the nature of sports. Outside of a 20 year old Yankee fan, I'm hard pressed to come up with a person who has never really seen their team struggle for any real period.

11/22/11   |   ML31   |   3615 respect

coryjwilson wrote:
Probably every fan can claim from time to time that their franchise is the hardest to support.  My question would be.  When does a sports franchise deserve to lose fan support?  I'm thinking of how hard it would have been to have been a fan of the San Francisco Giants during the Barry Bonds show.  Can you be a fan of a team, knowing full well that ethical boundaries are being broken?

I can speak for being a fan of the Giants in the Bonds era.  I had no issues with it at all.  He never tested positive and I think if what was taking had any positive baseball effect at all it was just a placebo one.

What WAS difficult was when they were given a wild card playoff spot.  That was just plain harsh.  Talk about ethical boundaries being broken...  I was forced because of morals to hope my favorite team ever would lose in the post season.  I wouldn't wish that feeling on any fan.

11/22/11   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

I've been a Seahawks and Blazers fan my whole life (and how good was the U of Oregon while I was growing up... not at all is the correct answer!!), while I don't want to get into a Monty Python-esq "My team is worse than your team" argument... I do know where you're coming from and I do feel your pain.

Great article!!

11/22/11   |   hskrdave   |   10333 respect

(Edited by hskrdave)

I don't think their is anything wrong with the Chiefs.  A lot of teams have been obliterated by the Pats.

11/22/11   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

Oh, and about the Knicks, since I'm a huge Knicks fan as well--they are a whole different kind of torture. One fraught with mis-management, lack of effort and under achievement. I don't think those same inherent issues apply in KC.

11/22/11   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

Oh, I will always be a Chiefs fan. The point of the article isn't that the Chiefs are the worst team in the league, that they don't win their division, or that have bad players. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The idea (perhaps not expressed well) is that the Chiefs, unlike say the Pirates or the Royals continually give fans a glimmer of hope--only to quickly let them down. The Bills are a great comparison, and to a lesser, lateral extent the Cubs in baseball. 

The article was not meant to say I'm jumping off the wagon, but more to explain that rye, "of course the Chiefs are getting obliterated on MNF" smile (though not a happy one) I got while watching last night's game.

Thanks for reading, and sorry about your Huskers last weekend!

11/22/11   |   hskrdave   |   10333 respect

 Great Article, but I think you're young with semi-blinders.

Are you just talking about professional sports?  Ask Kramer about his love for the Pirates and what they (haven't) done over the last 20 years.  The Royals are in that same boat on the Baseball side.  Fans of the Knicks are living on many past glories.  The Bills (and Buffalo in general) have a very loyal fan base, and they haven't had much to cheer about in years (including having a "home" game played in Toronto now).

My brother is a Chiefs fan, and as a Redskins fan myself, I know all about wanting to quit my team.  But didn't the Chiefs win their division within the last 5 years? Haven't they been semi-riddled with injuries to key players?  Larry Johnson was a workhorse and provided many great moments.

If you don't want to be a Chiefs fan anymore, that can be understandable.  That is if you are only a fan because of your father.  I know with my kids I have tried not to force my teams on them (other than Nebraska, really they have no choice).  I would say pick a team that you can honestly talk about though.  No one wants to call you a bandwagon jumper.

Once again, Great Article.

11/22/11   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

Funny you ask that question. I was actually living in the SF Bay Area during the end of the Bonds Era and the years that have followed. Giants fans had blinders on when looking at Bonds. He was a hero, and will continue to be cheered at the ballpark. That is partially a product of the memories he provides those fans and partially because his alleged steroid use was not unique to him. In fact, I'm all but certain a roided player played for all 30 MLB teams at some point.

I think it would be hard to drop a favorite team because of the actions of one player these days. If you did you'd have no one to root for. How many teams have nobody that has been arrested, been suspended, been caught in a sex scandal, etc? I'm not sure if there is a single team. So the short answer to your question, in my opinion, is that for every fan that line is different. For some it is about wins and losses, for others it is something. My dad, who I spoke about in the above article, always rooted for University of Missouri sports teams too--but he said to hell with Mizzou now that they are moving to the SEC. So to each, his own. 

11/22/11   |   coryjwilson   |   2 respect

Probably every fan can claim from time to time that their franchise is the hardest to support.  My question would be.  When does a sports franchise deserve to lose fan support?  I'm thinking of how hard it would have been to have been a fan of the San Francisco Giants during the Barry Bonds show.  Can you be a fan of a team, knowing full well that ethical boundaries are being broken?