The Kansas City Chiefs Must Regain Their Swagger, for the Fans' Sake
There are few sporting venues that have been regarded as intimidating a place to play over last couple of decades as Arrowhead Stadium.
With a good team on the field, no group of fans in the NFL can transform their team's field into a torturous holding cell for opponents like the ones who fill the red and gold seats on Sundays at Arrowhead.
At least, it used to be that way.
A die-hard Chiefs fan displaced to the sunshine and sandy beaches of Jacksonville, I have worn my pride in all things Chiefs at every possible opportunity. My office walls and desk are covered in Red and Gold, my vehicles decorated with Kansas City Chiefs license plate covers.
Nobody who knows anything about me ever has to ask twice about my sports preferences—and with good reason. Anyone who was exposed to Kansas City football in the '90s knows what a real football fan should act like.
Fall of 2004: Life got even better. The Chiefs were coming to Jacksonville to take on the Cardiac Cats (The Jaguars). There was no way I would miss an opportunity to see Trent, Tony, and Priest destroy the hometown favorites.
Dressed in all the red I could find, I took the wife and some fellow Chiefs fans to then-Alltel stadium for a brutal day in the Florida Sun. I will never forget what I saw that day.
Late in the game, Trent Green managed to barely avoid a sack and get a little flip pass out to Priest Holmes, who almost had a knee down when he caught it. After review, the play stood and the Chiefs had a touchdown, putting them ahead for the first time that afternoon.
What happened next made me want to throw up.
With well over four minutes to play, Jaguar fans started piling out of the stadium. They were abandoning their team. I looked at my friends and said, "Can you believe this?"
From that day on, I have been of the firm belief that the Jaguars are screwed. Their fans, well, they suck. Every chance I've had since then, I get on my soapbox about how had that been Arrowhead, nobody would have left.
By the way, the Jags ended up winning that game. Thanks to the sad state of fandom in Jacksonville, there were only three or four people to give me a hard time for being a Chiefs fan on the way back to the car.
Enter the 2008 season. I watched in horror as week after week the sea of red sank lower and lower in a drought of excitement and expectations. A 2-14 season can do that to even the very best fanbase, I guess. It was a little tough to take emotionally. My soapbox was being pummeled before my very eyes.
So now it's 2009, and all I have left to say is this—Mr. Pioli, Mr. Haley, we've heard you talk about what a great fanbase Kansas City has. We all understand that as new members in the leadership structure of our team you have to say those sorts of things.
But, my question—no, my plea to you—is that you realize that you truly have one of the most passionate groups of fans in the NFL here.
We are begging you to put a product on the field that brings the swagger back to the stands. We want to look at lowly NFL franchises like the Jaguars and be able to poke fun at the tarps they cover seats with to avoid blacked-out games.
We want to hear color commentators talk of the incredible college-like atmosphere they've encountered when broadcasting Chiefs games—and we want it in present tense, not as a historical account.
We understand that building a champion takes time, and we will be patient, but please, please, for the love of God, when September rolls around give us a reason to believe.
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