Despite the fact that I have lived 46 of my 47 years in the state of Missouri, I’ve never counted myself among those folks who proudly call themselves members of “Chiefs Kingdom”. In fact, I spent a fair portion of my years actively rooting against the Chiefs as a member of “Raider Nation”. Last Sunday, however, I decided to take a break from my lifetime distain for all things Kansas City and support the home team. (I’m as surprised as you are.) Allow me to explain.
First of all, I am not a fair-weather fan. I did not suddenly start cheering for the Chiefs just because they had one good season. They’ve had several good seasons over the years since the team’s last Superbowl appearance in 1970, and I was never tempted to hop on board the bandwagon on any of those occasions.
The Chiefs had some great players this year, including Patrick Mahomes—who may prove to be one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL—but that is not why I cheered the team on in the AFC Championship game. If Derrick Thomas and Joe Montana couldn’t win me over, you can bet young Mr. Mahomes probably won’t either.
And although I am as sick as anyone of seeing New England make it to the Superbowl every year, it was not because I hate Tom Brady that I pulled for the Chiefs last Sunday. (For the record, I do not hate Tom Brady. He is, after all, the greatest quarterback of all time. He’s earned my respect.)
The reason I chose to root for the Chiefs last weekend, for the first time in my life, had very little to do with the Chiefs—or any other football team for that matter. I simply decided to allow the love I have for my friends and family who support the Chiefs to override my hatred of all things with the word “Kansas” in their name.
No Chiefs fan who is my age or younger has ever had the pleasure of seeing his or her favorite team play in the Super Bowl. This includes my sister Karah and my brother Taylor, who are two of the most loyal members of Chiefs Kingdom. Many of my closest friends are lifelong Chiefs fans, too. It is very likely that you, dear reader, are also a faithful supporter of the only remaining professional football team in Missouri. I have witnessed your disappointment and heartbreak year after year. Last weekend, I was pulling for you—and the Chiefs.
The people of Missouri are faithful to their favorite sports teams, even though those teams sometimes fail to prove their dedication to their fans. The St. Louis Football Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams, the St. Louis Browns, the St. Louis Hawks, the Kansas City Kings, and the Kansas City Athletics each broke the hearts of their devoted fans in Missouri when they chose to leave the Show-Me state for other locales.
The Chiefs have broken many hearts, too, over the years, but at least they’ve had the decency to stay in Kansas City for the last five decades. They and their fans deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty. I really was hoping that this would be their year.
I spent most of my childhood living in the northeast corner of the state, far away from the influence of Kansas City. Neither the Chiefs nor the football Cardinals were any good when I was an impressionable kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, so I grew up admiring the Pittsburg Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, winners of seven of the ten Super Bowls played between 1975 and 1984.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching my favorite two football teams play in a combined twelve Super Bowls since the people who’ve had the misfortune of being Chiefs fans have seen their favorite team appear in the big game. I’m sincerely sorry you folks will have to wait until next season for another chance.
Will I cheer for the Chiefs next year? I doubt it. But if they make it to the conference championship game again, for the sake of the Chiefs fans I care about, I will pull for them to win. Probably. Chiefs Kingdom is due for a reason to celebrate, and if Kansas City wins it all, I will celebrate with you.
And then I’ll put on my Silver and Black, or my Black and Gold, and pray to the football gods that it will be another 50 years until the Chiefs make another Superbowl appearance.