It was my first Chiefs game (that I remember anyways and didn't spend the entire time scouring the section collecting souvenir cups). My dad would rotate which boy (I was the middle of 3 brothers) he would take to the Chiefs game if he only had two tickets, and it was my turn again. November 1997, I was only 11, and I remember the day like yesterday.
It was cold, it was the first time I was introduced to hand and foot warmers (thanks mom). We threw on our Chiefs red, pair of long johns, some hilarious, although many say adorable, father-son matching overalls, and our heavy Chiefs coats, and off we went.
I had been to a game, but I was young and didn't really understand football, or the Chiefs. Our drive to the stadium was uneventful. I was gushing with excitement, but we had to listen to pregame. Finally I was understanding, we are supposed to hate this Denver team, the Donkeys I had heard them called. My dad explains to me how great tailgating is, how amazing the atmosphere is for a pro game. Its going to be loud, its going to be fun.
We took the super secret route to avoid traffic, 23rd street exit, loop around, onto the east side of stadium drive. The stadium wasn't even in sight yet, but my dad rolled down the windows, "can you smell it son? Kansas City tailgating."
I didn't really know what he meant, until not a minute later as the tree line past, there it was in all of its glory. A magnificent Arrowhead stadium, rising tall amidst thousands upon thousands of barbecuing tailgaters. Red everywhere. A haze over the entire parking lot from all of the grills. And I thought we were going to be way to early for the game, boy was I wrong!
We set up shop a distance from the stadium, in the grass lot on the North side, the area quickly filling in around us. We tossed the pig skin around for a while, my dad had a beer, and then we went. We got food on the way in at another tailgate, Arrowhead really was a tailgater's paradise. We got into the stadium at least one hour before kickoff, and the place was quickly filling up. I was taking in all the sights and sounds that my young senses could endure. The pre-game spectacle was definitely a sensory overload. I saw KC Wolf, player warm-ups, and cheerleaders. This was all from the upper deck and I couldn't stop smiling!
It was finally time for the national anthem. The stadium was now packed full. My dad told me to get ready and boy was I. He said it once more while the anthem was being sung, how rude. But then, "and the Home, of the... CHIEFS!" I nearly jumped. Chills ran down my spine. I had goosebumps. I looked at my dad and he was yelling it with everyone at the top of his lungs. I was startled. He laughed at me, "I told you to get ready." From that point, it was on. I was a die hard. We gave a warm Kansas City welcome to the Denver Broncos, which were mostly boos and a few jeers, and then the place rumbled again for the Chiefs introductions.
I had never been to an event quite like this. Whenever we were on defense, we stood and screamed at the top of our lungs along with79,000 other die-hards. And I only had to go to the bathroom like 3 times. Once because I was cold. The day was perfect. Little did I know, there was more. The Chiefs would pull out one of the most memorable games of the season.
Down 22-21, Rich Gannon quarterbacking for the injured Elvis Grbac, put together a small last minute drive, to give Pete Stoyanovich a shot at a field goal. It was cold, there was a breeze, and it would be a 54 yarder. The place was silent. Not a person moved. Everyone was standing. This would be the last play, with only seconds left on the clock. The kick went up, not very high, a line drive, that made it through! The place shook. It felt like an earthquake! It was loud. No one left. Pete Stoyanovichjust gave the Chiefs a jolt. We stayed and cheered for what seemed at least 30 minutes, along with everyone else. No one cared about traffic, no one cared about dinner, it was the Chiefs!
The Chiefs would finish the season 13-3, making the playoff for the 8th time in 9 years, only to bow out early, this time coming up short against the Broncos 14-10.
Walking back to the car after Pete's field goal, I tried to ask my dad if every game was like that. I couldn't say a word though, my voice could only whisper. So my dad then put his arm around me and smiled. What a game. I was now a Chiefs fan. A bond that was handed to me, and one that will stay with me for life.
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