The Luck of the Chiefs

(Apparently Scarf Messages are a thing in Soccer.)
6 January, 2014

Deja Vu, all over again.

You might have thought Kansas City's decades long drought was over when Sporting KC won the MLS championship just a few weeks ago, but the heartbreak from the Chiefs most recent loss is evidence that Soccer doesn't matter. Nobody is comforted from this soul-wrenching loss by remembering that we as a city just won a Soccer championship. Some people might count Soccer as a major sport, but not us.

I don't know a single person in Kansas City who was relaxed when the Chiefs took a 38-10 lead. We know better. We knew half of our team might simultaneously tear their ACLs.

Or that we might once again become a highlight reel for another future hall-of-fame QB. Even while we were still winning, even when we had the ball and were poised to get into position to kick the game winning field goal, we all knew we were going to lose. Something would happen. We'd miss the field goal, or maybe we'd score and the Colts would win on hail mary.

I started Saturday by not being able to sleep on Friday night. I was too nervous for the game. Not excited. Nervous. I finally got to sleep and woke up around 2 O'clock in a daze. There was a football game on the TV and in my dazed condition, and not wearing my glasses, I thought for a moment the red team on the field was the Chiefs. It was actually the Houston Cougars playing against the Vanderbilt Comodores. Vanderbilt was up 24-0 as they came out from halftime. For a moment I thought the UH on the Cougars' helmets was the outline of the state of Texas on the Chiefs throwback Texans helmet.

As I realized I wasn't watching the Chiefs getting blown out in a post-season game, the Houston Cougars suddenly stormed back. Down 24-0 at the half, they quickly scored to close to 24-17 with 3 minutes to go in the third quarter. Everyone loves an underdog. I have no idea who was favored in the BBVA Compass bowl, but after watching the Cougars storming back, I cheered out loud when they connected on a long pass to score a TD to tie the game with seconds left in the third.

The Houston Cougars had become my team.

They wouldn't score again as they would return to first half form and watch Vanderbilt score three times in the fourth to win 41-24.

That's the life of a Chiefs fan. Don't let us jump on your bandwagon, we're all just going to die of dysentery.

We don't have hockey because the Kansas City Scouts lasted only two years before moving away. They've since become the three time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. The Devils were in the Stanley Cup Finals just two years ago.

We don't have basketball since the Kansas City Kings left for Sacramento. We were really just a brief stop on their trip out west, having previously been in Cincinnati. The Kings last won a playoff series in 2004.

The Kansas City Royals haven't made it to the playoffs since 1985. The last time the Chiefs won a playoff game, it was against a team that doesn't exist anymore. In 1994, the Chiefs beat the Houston Oilers in the second round. That season, NFL teams had two bye weeks in a one year experiment with an 18-week season. Remember the double-bye? That's how long it has been.
Expect the Unexpected?
Like moving to Sacramento?

Why aren't we allowed to have nice things?

Boston had a curse. They traded away Babe Ruth. I hate to blame the victim, but come on, that's asking for it. The Patriots were bad for a long time, except for those pockets of greatness that got them blown out in two Super Bowls. The Bruins were great once, but then had decades of futility. Same goes for the Celtics. Of course, all four Boston teams won titles in the 2000s.

The Cubs have gone over a century without winning the World Series. Since winning it all in 1908, during that reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Cubs have won only a single playoff series in 105 years. That one playoff series victory was followed by the collapse against the Marlins, partly due to the Steve Bartman incident.

The Cleveland Browns had their hearts ripped out of their chests by John Elway in consecutive years. Then they had their team taken away and moved to Baltimore and renamed for some goddamn emo poetry. Then the Ravens went and won two Super Bowls, while Cleveland is stuck with an expansion team trying to pretend to be an NFL team. That's some Shakespearean tragedy right there.
The Browns are cursed for not making this their logo.

That's before we get to the Indians or Lebron James breaking up with his hometown on national TV.

The Buffalo Bills were cursed with four straight Super Bowl losses and futility ever since. Oh except for the Music City Miracle totally screwing them over. But hey, at least they have the Sabres. Except they lost the Stanley Cup, in Overtime, via an illegal, but not reviewed goal by Brett Hull.

The only team with a longer NFL playoff drought than the Chiefs is the Bengals. I feel bad for the Bengals. Draft bust after draft bust, you'd think they'd eventually find a star. They were good in the 80s. Good enough to lose two Super Bowls. Hey at least they have the Reds...oh yeah. What about Basketball? Oh right. Hockey? I suppose you could say they have the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that's not gonna help.

If there is a god, he sure hates Cleveland, Cincinatti, the Cubs, definitely Buffalo. Oh and Kansas City
Is his foot in the crease? Better review it...
Nah, they're celebrating already, too late to review it. 

Perhaps the worst part of being a Chiefs fan is that we don't even get the lore. We don't have Buckner or Bartman or Babe Ruth or Art Modell stealing our team. We don't have The Drive or The Fumble or The No-Goal or The Decision. If and when those curses are finally broken and say the Browns finally win a Super Bowl, most people will celebrate the lifting of that curse. But if the Chiefs or Royals ever manage to win something, will anyone really notice or care?

This weekend, all the wrong teams won. Every game went the wrong way. Which tells me that there's either no god, or a maybe he's letting Satan run sports because of all the stupid prayers.

The Chargers somehow made the playoffs, needing a bunch of other teams to lose, and facing the Chiefs backups. We rested our guys so we would be healthy for the playoffs  (that sure helped), besides, we had nothing to gain. The Chargers get in, and are sent to Cincinnati. The Bengals won their division, making the playoffs for the third year in a row.

Wait, let me back up.

The Bengals last playoff victory came in the 1990 season against the Houston Oilers. Sorry Houston. You guys have the Texans it's not all bad. And the Astros. Are they good? I don't watch baseball, so I don't know these things.

In '91, the Bengals went 3-13. In the following draft, they picked Houston Cougars QB David Klingler. He's now a Biblical Studies Professor in of course Houston, Texas. So you might imagine how he fared as an NFL QB.

The Bengals didn't have another winning season until 2005. That's 14 seasons where they never did better than 8-8. With all those bad years, you'd think they'd draft some great players. Guys like Defensive End John Copeland #5, with hall of famer Willie Roaf going 8th. Dan Wilkinson #1, when Marshall Faulk went #2. Running Back Ki-Jana Carter #1 overall. Had they picked Faulk the year before, maybe instead of Carter they take QB Steve McNair who went #3? They took Reinard Wilson and Brian Simmons in the 97 and 98 first rounds. Who? In 1999 they took QB Akili Smith #3. The next 5 picks were pro-bowlers. Akili Smith had 5 TD his NFL career. Cam Newton had more passing yards and TDs in his first 8 games than Akili had in his entire NFL career.
Is this how you Quarter Back?

In 2000, they followed up the Akili bust pick with WR Peter Warrick. RB Jamal Lewis was the next pick. Brian Urlacher a few picks after that.

2001 is when the Bengals finally figured out how to Draft. They got DE Justin Smith, the next year was OT Levi Jones, the year after that was Carson Palmer, Heisman Trophy winning, National Champion, pretty boy from USC, face of the franchise. They finally got it right. In Palmer's third season, he led the Bengals to their first winning record since going 9-7 way back in 1990.

The only joke here is the Bengals uniform. 
The Bengals were 11-5 and won their division. That's right, they beat the seemingly always good Ravens and Steelers and won their division. First playoff game in 15 years, and it's at home, and guess who? Pittsburgh's coming. Carson Palmer's first pass was a 66 yard completion, and it was his last of the day. Torn ACL. Jon Kitna came in and played well, but without Palmer, the Bengals lost to the Steelers 31-17.

First fucking drive, first pass, star quarterback tears his ACL.

Bengals go 8-8, 7-9, 4-12 over the next three years.

Then they go 10-6 and win their division again in 2009. A home playoff game! They lose in the first round to the Jets. The Jets only got in because they played the Curtis Painter-led Colts. If Manning had finished that game, it's not the Jets but the Houston Texans coming to Cincinnati. Somebody would finally win a playoff game. Bengals go 4-12 the next season, Palmer, not wanting to stay in a cursed city demands to be traded or he'll retire.

The Bengals go ahead and draft a replacement in Andy Dalton in the 2nd round, having the balls to take WR A.J. Green in the first round and wait on their QB in the 2nd. The old Bengals wouldn't have made such a shrewd move.

Tom Bahali - Yoga Instructor
Dalton plays well and then a Cincinatti Miracle happens. Jason Campbell gets hurt, the Raiders decide to trade for Palmer. The Bengals get a 1st and a 2nd rounder for their no longer needed QB. Everything's coming together.

The Bengals go 9-7 and are one-and-done in the playoffs after losing to the Texans, but hey, a rookie QB gets you to the playoffs? And you have an extra first rounder next year? In 2012 they follow up with another playoff year and another first round loss at the Texans.

Now it's Dalton's third year. Time to step up in the playoffs. This time they won the division again. Dalton and A.J. Green's first chance at a home playoff game.

Hey refs, what are you looking at exactly?
And who are they playing? Will it be the Dolphins? The Ravens? The Steelers? Or the Chargers? Going into week 17, it could have been any of those teams. The Bengals beat the Ravens, having already won the division, this is just salt in the wound as they knock the Ravens out of playoff contention. The Dolphins could have been going into Paul Brown stadium, but they can't get it done. The Steelers take care of business and are headed to Cincy if the Chiefs can beat the Chargers later that afternoon. The Chiefs have nothing to play for and put in their backups. The Chiefs JV team still nearly beats the Chargers, and in fact drives in position to kick a 41 yard game winning field goal. But Ryan Succop misses it (and the refs miss an illegal formation that should have given Succop a second try). The Charges somehow make the playoffs.

We're sorry Cincinnati. The Chargers just went into Cincinnati and beat the Bengals. Philip Rivers' smug ass, the god damn Chargers. The team that fired Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season.

It has to be tough to be a Bengal fan today, but hey, at least you guys got beat pretty bad. Not a lot of "what ifs." At least your QB didn't tear his ACL. At least you didn't blow a 28 point second-half lead...

I guess the Colts-Chiefs game is payback for the hubris of resting our starters. The 2009 Colts got Tracy Porter'd for resting starters and in effect screwing the Houston Texans out of a playoff spot by handing a win to the Jets. The Texans had to play the real Varsity Colts twice and lost twice, and lost out on the wild-card because the Jets got a freebie from Curtis Painter. Sorry Houston, you got screwed, so you got to watch Peyton throw a game clinching pick-six. Does that make up for it?

The Chiefs and Bengals both lost. The Packers lost to the 49ers, not a lot of sob stories between these teams, but the Packers had to endure a season where their star QB's collar-bone became the most talked about bone since Josh and Donna finally boned.

The Saints went into Philly and beat the Foles-led Eagles. Come on, god, can't you let the Eagles win something?

Prior to this weekend, if you asked me who I wanted to win each game, I would have picked every loser. I wanted the Chiefs, Packers, Eagles, and Bengals. Since what I want to happen is the opposite of what will happen, I guess that makes me like Cassandra. I can see the future, but I'm just gonna hate what I see.

I mean, the Ravens led by the "non-murderer" Ray Lewis won it all last year. It couldn't have been the Falcons and Tony Gonzalez. That would have been too good of a story.

Did you know he played basketball?
When rumors swirled about the dismal Falcons trading Tony Gonzalez at the deadline to the suddenly good Chiefs, perhaps giving him one more chance at a ring, I had visions of our offense suddenly becoming the real deal with a hall-of-fame Tight End to make us deadly in the Red Zone. But no, of course that's not what would happen. Instead the Falcons would just continue to suck and the Chiefs would continue to have no solid option at TE, no receiver to step up to make those pivotal 4th and long catches. Of course not, we'll probably just be one-and-done in the playoffs again to probably, the Colts.

If the last thing I'd like to see is what's really going to happen, then Peyton Manning and the Broncos will win the Super Bowl, probably over the Seahawks or Panthers, teams who've played highlight-reel fodder to the Patriots and Steelers in recent Super Bowls.

The worst part of our loss again to the Colts is the lack of a moment to blame it on. There's too many moments. It'd be almost nicer if we had one thing to seize on. In our 2003 38-31 loss to the Colts in which neither team punted, we had a phantom Offensive Pass Interference call that went against Tony Gonzalez and took a TD off the board before half-time. In 1997, the Broncos came into Arrowhead after we had a bye and beat us while wearing something greasy on their uniforms. Bunch of greased up cheaters. Oh and there was a Tony Gonzalez touchdown that was called incomplete but replays showed him in bounds. Replay would be added the following year. There's the Lin Elliot misses.

Good Guy Eli. Sucks so you can draft a QB to replace him.
"You guys said Peyton did this right?"
People remember Lin Elliot blowing it on three field goals, but that's about it. We don't have a scapegoat this year. We can't point a finger at Bartman and say it's his fault. We could point out the injuries to Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers, Justin Houston, Donnie Avery, and Knile Davis. But even with all those injuries, we still had a 28 point lead. There's too many injuries, no one to seize on. There's no blown call to blame. Maybe we point at Dwayne Bowe coming down out of bounds to end the game, but that's not like a dropped gimme, he's not the sickest man in America after that. It's hard to put the blame on anyone on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe you blame Bob Sutton for being unable to figure out how to stop them, or our secondary for being abused. But that's not one moment you can hang your hat on.

See, we're left with dozens of little moments, injuries, decisions, what-ifs? What if Alex Smith's fumble tumbled toward the boundary just a little faster and the Colts couldn't pick it up before going out of bounds.

When the announcers mentioned that Donald Brown had never fumbled, everyone in Indianpolis cringed and yelled at the annoucners for jinxing him. Everyone in KC cheered, and waited in anticipation for the Donald Brown fumble. We weren't too happy with how that turned out.

What if we recover that ball? We win. What if we punch in a touchdown rather than settling for 3 after that 3rd Luck Interception? We Win. What if we call a different play and dont' get that intentional grounding call on our final drive? We win. What if we have not Jamaal, but at least our backup running back for the whole second half to grind the clock? We win. What if Flowers doesn't get hurt? We win.

There's too many moments, too many scenarios, so we're left in a daze, wishing we could go back and change them, wondering what might have happened. There's just too many horribly wrong details to forget. We dropped 44 points on them and lost? Alex Smith had the best game of his career and we lost? We were +3 on turnovers and we lost? No missed field goals? How does this happen?
Joe always did know how to talk dirty.

After we scored to go up 38-10, the odds of a Chiefs victory were 500-1. That's 99.8%. I wish a bookee had called me up then and offered me 500-1 odds. I think most people in KC would have instantly bet against the Chiefs. We know better. We knew we weren't a 99.8% lock to win. We might allow ourselves to think we were at 80%. But no better. We've seen Joe Montana concussed in the AFC title game. We've watched Lin Elliot kick under pressure. We've watched a bunch of greased up cheaters get bad calls go their way. We've seen our offense be unstoppable and our defense incapable of getting one. We've seen "not" a
murderer Ray Lewis get sent off with a second ring. We've seen the Steelers beat the Cardinals and the Seahawks. We've seen three expansion teams that didn't exist when we last beat the Oilers, win playoff games ahead of us.

Maybe our uniforms are cursed. How's this?
 Awful? Wait, I've got another idea!
We're not allowed to have nice things. I'm convinced the Royals will continue to suck. The Chiefs will go 8-8 next year, 7-9 after that, then 3-13 and Andy Reid will be gone. We'll get a top draft pick and there will finally be an actual QB that we can draft! He'll be great and we'll win the division and get a bye and then he'll tear his labrum on his first pass and never be the same QB again.

After watching the Packers-Niners game,
I've decided the Chiefs flaw is a lack of Gold Pants.
If you wanted a curse to root against, an underdog to get behind, well, the Chiefs and Bengals are predictably out again. Maybe root for the Seahawks who got screwed out of a Super Bowl by bad refs. It won't help though, because it's going to be the Broncos. It's the last thing I want to see. So it will happen. For a moment during the Super Bowl, while the Broncos are winning, I'll think, "Maybe Peyton will retire now," and I'll be hopeful, like the hope you feel when you lock up the #1 overall pick in that last game of the season. But that hope will be crushed when there's nobody to draft, or when Peyton pulls an Elway and comes back for another season.

If I sound like I've lost hope, it's because I have. I know the Royals will suck and the Chiefs will continue to tease us with hope and then really stick it to us. That's just what they do. The Royals might be cursed because of the blown call in the '85 World Series that kept them alive. At least there's something we can pin that bad karma on. What did the Chiefs ever do?

At this point all I can do is root for other underdogs. Sorry Cincinatti. I think I screwed you over today.

I guess I can try to like Soccer.

No comments:

Post a Comment