I remember watching the Kansas City Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers in the first Super Bowl, and I have been a fan of the Chiefs ever since. That was 45 years ago, and in those 45 years, the 2011 season has become one of the most unusual seasons that I can remember.
Strange and amazing things have happened in other years. The Chiefs played in two of the first four Super Bowls. Joe Montana became a Chief for two years. The Chiefs played the longest game in NFL history.
Marty Schottenheimer led the Chiefs to the playoffs in seven out of eight years, appearing in 10 playoff games, but only winning three of those games.
I remember watching Nick Lowery, holding a shot gun, riding in the back of a pickup during the strike of the 1987 season. One of the greatest Chiefs players, Derrick Thomas was paralyzed and then died after a car wreck on icy roads. Dante Hall ran kick returns for touchdowns four games in a row and electrified the NFL.
There is great history, a Super Bowl-winning team that shouldn't have been, long years of frustration, and many Chiefs players in the Hall of Fame. As a Chiefs fan of 45 years, there are years that thrilled and years that killed, and 2011 will go down in my memory as one of the weirdest.
No year in the memory of this fan has been as eventful as the 2011 season.
By the end of the second week of the season, the team had lost their star tight end, their star running back, and their star defensive back. Halfway through the season the Chiefs lost their starting quarterback.
The new QB, hired to take over for the injured starting QB, injured his finger on his throwing hand on his first play from scrimmage.
The head coach, the same head coach that had led the team to a first-place finish in their division the year before, was fired with three games left to go.
The team, sitting at 6-8, with two games to go, still had a shot at winning the Western division by beating the Raiders and the Broncos. They beat the Broncos, but lost a tough game in overtime to the Raiders.
This is not a year that you can look at and try to decide the future of the team! This has been a year with way too many anomalies.
Show me another NFL team that has had a year like the Chiefs had this year? No, I am serious. Show me another team that has endured a year like the Chiefs endured this year?
February 2012 is approaching, but as a Chiefs fan this is still February 2011. The what-if's of the offseason after the 2010 season were never allowed an answer.
I am looking forward to February of this year, again. With the exception that the Chiefs have a new head coach, all of the questions remain.
Will the defense continue to improve? Well, that question seems to have an answer, and the answer is yes. Will the offense continue to improve? Was the first-place finish a fluke, or the beginning of a long-term success story?
The 2011 season has ended, but it feels like it never existed. The bad dream is over and I am rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. I still feel like I did a year ago. What is ahead for this young, improving and building team?
Those questions still have to be answered.