If there is one thing longtime KC Chiefs fans should have learned by now, it is the virtue of humility.
Since the days of Marv Levy, we have seen the winners of Super Bowl IV snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at nearly every important moment.
I know this because I used to live in Kansas City and still call myself a Chiefs fan. That used to be met with no small amount of chuckles, but now the laughter has died down just a bit.
Granted, I’m a fight writer now, covering MMA and the UFC, but I’ll always be a Chiefs fan, and that means I don’t mind the chuckles; I’m used to it.
Back in the days of John Elway, it seemed a given that in each season, the Chiefs would beat the Broncos early in the season (when it really didn’t matter) and then the Broncos would mount a staggering come-from-behind victory in their second game (usually sometime in the playoffs) and walk out of the stadium smiling while KC fans silently bit their tongues and choked on their own blood.
Seriously, it was shocking to see Elway do his thing. Granted, a lot of teams used to run over KC like drunken five-year-olds who discovered not only fourth gear but reverse as well, but no one really did it with the verve, the style, the elegance of John Elway.
It was really a feat to behold, honestly. It was usually sometime in the fourth quarter, and Kansas City would be up by 21 to 24 points, perhaps more. As fans, we were happy, but we were also worried, waiting for the shoe to drop.
That shoe was John Elway, who would shake off any cobwebs that had been hindering his performance and go out and stage some ridiculous comeback, throwing seven touchdown passes in less than two minutes or some other unholy display of excellence and grace under pressure.
I swear to god I thought I saw him winking at the Chiefs cheerleaders on more than a few occasions as he walked out of Arrowhead stadium like the Campbell’s Soup version of Khal-freaking-Drogo.
And if you really wanted to experience the agony first hand, to really drink down every last precious drop of sorrow from the communal Cup of Woe, you needed to see it live.
Being in Arrowhead Stadium when the pressure was on and the Chiefs were actually in the playoffs, or within striking distance (We’ve still got a chance!) was like a Greek Tragedy. The Chiefs would be doing well, and when the home team is doing well, there is a vibe of excitement and goodwill that runs through the stadium.
Yes, our team is winning, and our hopes are rising at a modest rate with each minute that passes, but we know we could still lose, so we’re ready for it. Besides, maybe we’ll win this time; that seems fair, doesn’t it?
And against all the laws of probability, we would score again.
With that, our mindset would inevitably change; screw modesty, we’re really going to win this time! We’re actually going to make it into the next round of the playoffs!
And then, Lucy would pull the ball away from us; as a collective whole (like some bizarre hive-mind fantasy or group hypnosis), our kick would miss and we’d fly through the air and land flat on our backs.
Or, to be blunt, the opposing team (be it Denver or whoever) would stage a comeback, trample our grass into muddy sod, win the game and walk out of Arrowhead, once again proving that when the stakes were high, the Chiefs were chokers.
And the fans? To be there at those moments, in the stands as the opposing team unzips the Chiefs defense and parties in the end zone as the final seconds tick off… it’s like being on the end of a bad practical joke.
People would just stand there, stunned, like some voice had come over the loudspeaker and told everyone in the stadium that their homes had just been robbed. You hated yourself for getting your hopes up, but isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?
And now, somehow, against every law of Nature and probability in the world of Team Sports, the Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated.
Personally, I would rather they have at least one or two losses; the thought of them going undefeated into the playoffs only to lose a single game and then get kicked to the curb; it’s like that game my old man introduced me to: “Let’s see who can hit the softest!”
Of course, me being a gullible kid, I was all aboard. “Sure, Dad!”
And so I would land the softest, lightest blow ever dealt in the history of man; ghosts have hit harder.
My reward, of course, was to get hammered in the shoulder so hard it sent me flying off the sofa like I’d been launched via cannon. This, of course was followed by loud laughter, my father screaming “You win!” and a bruise that would spread out on my shoulder like an eggplant.
Ah, the good old days.
But no matter what happens when the Chiefs play Denver again, I’m just proud that for a portion of this professional football season, the Kansas City Chiefs were the only undefeated team around.
As for the rest of the season, I’ll be cheering the Chiefs on but watching just out of the corner of my eye. I don’t think I’d have a full blown freak out of the Chiefs were to have it all taken away in the final moments once again, but it’s better safe than sorry.