Exclusive Interview with Marty McDonald, Founder of Save Our Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs' 1-7 record has infuriated many fans this season. The team's record is bad enough to the point where fans have stood up to the Chiefs, making sure they know how they feel outside of boos at Arrowhead Stadium.
Marty McDonald, a Chiefs fan of over 30 years from Arizona, decided to speak up and form a movement called Save Our Chiefs. As of Thursday morning, the Facebook page has over 12,000 likes and the Twitter account has over 72,000 followers.
Fans have followed the movement and supported it proudly, hoping that it will send a clear message to the organization.
McDonald and the people affiliated with Save Our Chiefs have planned "Blackout Arrowhead" on Nov. 18 against the Cincinnati Bengals, where disgruntled Chiefs fans will wear black apparel to the game, instead of red. Save Our Chiefs flew a banner before the Ravens game and two banners before the Oakland Raiders game.
I spoke to McDonald and he spent a few minutes talking about the movement, the blackout game and his take on the team's current status.
Farzin Vousoughian: Lots of Chiefs fans are frustrated, just like you. But you took the initiative to put together a page, SaveOurChiefs.com. What was the driving force in putting that together?
Marty McDonald: Save Our Chiefs started after the home loss against the San Diego Chargers earlier this year. Myself and others Chiefs fans reached a point to where this is just unreal. We had very low expectations when we started this. It blossomed and exploded, like you wouldn’t believe.
FV: Before the game against the Baltimore Ravens, you guys had a banner circling Arrowhead Stadium's parking lot. The sign said, "We deserve better. Fire Pioli. Bench Cassel." You had to know this was going to get a lot of attention and feedback when this was spotted right away. What are your thoughts on the feedback you’ve received?
MM: I’d say a majority of the feedback has been good. Just like anything you do, it doesn’t matter what profession you’re in, you’re always going to have critics. We had our fair share of critics early on. A lot of those critics have stopped being critical of the movement, and in fact joined. They understand and they’re frustrated. They thought it was early for this kind of action. It’s very clear that the fan base has no faith in Scott Pioli as general manager.
FV: Many Chiefs fans on Twitter have said that they've been blocked by the Chiefs because they mention you, @SaveOurChiefs, or the hashtag, #FirePioli. What are your thoughts on the Chiefs blocking their own fans for their opinions?
MM: Some of the people are being blocked because of foul language. But there are other people out there who have been blocked for saying #FirePioli, using @SaveOurChiefs. When a business starts turning its nose on its customers, and they don’t want to remain in touch with the customers, that’s a bad sign.
I’m disappointed that the club started blocking people. I understand and support blocking people for foul language and making different types of threats, but some of the things I’ve seen that have caused people to be blocked, it’s as harmless as can be. For the Chiefs to do that, I think it sends a strong and nasty negative message.
FV: You guys have a big event coming up, the blackout game against Cincinnati. Obviously Oakland’s primary colors are black and silver. If the Oakland game was the blackout game, the fans would have sent a big message to the Chiefs front office. Why was the Raiders game not the blackout game?
MM: We felt it was too short of time to get the word out. With something like this, we need time to get the word out. As much as we want to think that we’re all important and what not, there is a whole world out there that doesn’t know about Save Our Chiefs.
You run the risk of rushing into something and looking foolish and a lot of Chiefs fans wearing black to a Raiders game is a little bit taboo, I guess. We chose the Bengals game. It’s time to get the word out and we’ve put out some commemorative long-sleeve t-shirts and hoodies for “Blackout Arrowhead.”
FV: The Chiefs, obviously, dislike what you are doing. There are rumors that people from the organization are partially blaming you guys for the losses with your banners because it is spreading negativity. Have they told you this directly?
MM: The Chiefs have not directly reached out to us. I have sent two emails now to the Chiefs asking them to identify a charitable partner of choice. We received no response so we decided to donate our remaining funds to the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City.
If the organization wants to blame us for the losses, that’s a real short-sided blame because we’re the passionate fans that have dished out thousands of dollars every year. We’re not out there making questionable roster decisions, like Scott Pioli has, we’re not out there doing questionable coaching decisions, like the staff has and the fans aren’t out there executing the plays.
I don’t think the organization would come out openly and say we’re the reason behind the loss and the negativity. But if that’s what they’re saying, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
FV: You’ve watched this team for a long time. Where does this season rank compared to other years of Chiefs football?
MM: I think it’s ranked right there at the time in 1988 when a lot of Chiefs fans wrote the old-fashioned hand-written letters to Lamar Hunt and he ended up getting rid of Jack Steadman and hired Carl Peterson.
This is sad football. Under Pioli, there has been, I want to say 19 blowout loss. We’ve had questionable draft classes under Pioli. We looked at the last two years and looked up first-quarter touchdowns. Last year, the Chiefs didn’t score a touchdown in the first quarter until the final game of the season. This year, we haven’t scored a first-quarter touchdown.
Look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, who rushed for four touchdowns in one game against the Oakland Raiders. Dating back to the Baltimore Ravens home game, the Chiefs have scored a total of three touchdowns.
At some point, there has to be a measure of accountability where Scott Pioli says ‘Hey, I’ve screwed this up.’ Or Clark Hunt comes in and says ‘Enough is enough. The fans deserve better, I deserve better and the people of Kansas City deserve better.’
I think it’s real interesting that you have the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans, who have come out publicly this week and put their franchise on notice. We still haven’t heard Clark speak.
That’s okay. We know that there is a unique structure within the Chiefs organization Clark has to go through. We’ve already heard that there’s been some personnel power stripped from Pioli, which explains why cornerback Stanford Routt was released this week and defensive lineman Shaun Smith was signed, as well as why (Romeo) Crennel turned the defense over to Gary Gibbs.
I think you’re seeing things, but it’s really nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
FV: The blackout game is coming up. What are your plans? Can you provide a preview of what the banners will look like for the next home game?
MM: We have not decided on the banners for the Cincinnati game. We let the folks from ChiefsPlanet.com vote for it. Depending on any potential moves that could come after the result of a defeat on Monday night, the Save Our Chiefs movement will be prepared to react accordingly with what the banners need to say.
The blackout itself, we’re hoping fans wear black at Arrowhead Stadium. Black hat, black jacket, black hoodie or they can put a black trash bag over their Chiefs attire. They can still wear red but put a trash bag over them. We want to send that visual message to the organization.
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