I’m going to tell you all a little story today. The story is a true one and it involves a professional football team down on its luck. Some of you may know it by heart already and that is just fine. Others may only know bits and pieces though, which is why I’m going to lay things out for all to read and understand once and for all.
Let’s see… hmmm… where to begin? Oh yeah, I know…
Our story begins with a team in trouble. A team that has just suffered through it’s worst season in recent memory. A team that is bereft of quality players at many key positions and one that is exhibiting all the signs of becoming yet another downtrodden team in a league that is dominated by two or three megateams, most of which are from the east coast.
The team I’m talking about is the Kansas City Chiefs.
You see Kansas City is a city that is dominated by two things above all else: KC Chiefs football and amazing BBQ. Sure there are other things to do and eat while one is in Kansas City, but everyone that is really in the know will tell you that it’s Chiefs football and awesome BBQ that set this city apart from being another two-bit former cattle town in the heart of the Midwest.
So it goes without saying that the expectations placed upon the Chiefs franchise are extraordinary and without compare in most if not all the other football towns across the nation. The fans of the Chiefs do not settle easily with losing seasons. In fact, they flat out hate to lose, and will quickly turn on any coach or executive with the team that they feel is responsible for the team’s demise.
That’s what makes this story so interesting. You see, the Chiefs have been a team that is always on the verge of accomplishing great things but somehow, some way they’ve never been able to find a way to make it happen in crunch time.
In other words they choke on the pressure to be successful, and as such they’ve been forced to endure almost 38 years of failure since they last tasted the glory of ultimate success.
But this is where the story is beginning to divert from it’s usual path of regular season success and post-season failure. Instead of focusing on temporarily satisfying an angry mob of fans outside the gates that want the team to change and change NOW, the team’s top level leadership has formulated a different plan of attack.
Losing is no longer seen as a failure on all fronts, as it once was only a few years back. Losing is now seen as a necessary step in a long, but inevitably profitable process that calls for building the team from within by stockpiling draft picks and using them wisely to select the best and brightest players that will fit in immediately with this team.
While the casual fan will bemoan this strategy as focusing too much on the future and not enough on the here and now, the analytical fan has taken the time to see the potential reward in such a path. And typically they’ll be on board and support the moves made right from the start because they know it’s the right way to make a team from scratch.
All of this leads me to my final conclusion on what will likely become one of the more trying and difficult seasons to watch in Chiefs history. Despite all the pitfalls that this team will go through as the season progresses, they will be doing something that no team in Kansas City has done since the glory days of Len Dawson, Buck Buchanon, and Jan Stenerud: rebuilding the team from the ground up. And that is more than enough reason in my mind to sit back and enjoy the ride this season.
You see this team is destined for greatness if they are able to stick to the gameplan and continue to build themselves up by adding quality young talent across the board at every key position. It’s impossible for them to not succeed at some point in the near future because they will have built the team with a proven blueprint/model of success in mind.
Whether that success will be similar to the three Super Bowl championships that the Chiefs opening day opponent, the New England Patriots, have accomplished in similar fashion, or the close but no cigar attempts the San Diego Chargers have made in the past few years remains to be seen.
So despite knowing that they’re not likely, at least on paper, to shock the world by winning the Super Bowl this season, the Chiefs will have to begin their year with the idea that they can in fact do just what the experts and pundits say they cannot do. They have to expect nothing short of perfection for themselves. They cannot head out onto the field in Foxborough, Mass. next week and think to themselves that they are going to lose, because that is an unproductive defeat.
Much like a young boy learning the game in a schoolyard in middle America, the Chiefs will have to get out there and play ball with the big boys if they’re ever going to learn how to become a winning team in the NFL. They have to learn what it takes to become the best, while suffering through the trials and tribulations of being beaten by a superior opponent. Long term success is not measured by the final score; it’s how much you learned in the process that separates the good teams/players from the simply adequate ones.
In this league there is only one way to find out just how good you really are as a team, and that is to strap on the pads and play ball. Superstar franchises are not built on paper; they’re earned on the field of play. Similarly, All-Pro accolades are not won while sitting in the classroom watching film; they’re given to the players that execute their knowledge of the game in the best way possible.
The Chiefs are no different, and this weekend they will begin their quest with the opportunity to learn from the very best. Hopefully, they’ll take their lessons and run with them as the season progresses, because that is how a championship caliber team is built in the NFL.
Chris Kolb is the owner and lead writer for KCChiefsFanatic.com