Our Papale: Closing The Book On Sippio

Adam Teicher just doesn’t get it. Today, he offered a half-hearted “Sippio peace offering” that, in reality, was him gloating and rubbing salt in the wound. What an intolerable prick.

Obviously, Teicher is nothing more than a journalist hack covering the Chiefs, one who has never been a fan of the Chiefs, or possibly anything for that matter. I doubt he’s even a fan of his own writing–I wouldn’t be. The way he and some Chiefs fans have treated Sippio has disgusted me. I’m not a guy who chastises people, but shame on you all. Bobby Sippio embodied the spirit of the fans, like Vince Papale, another No. 83, did with the Eagles roughly 30 years ago.

In an era when sports fans can’t relate to professional athletes, fans could relate to Sipp. Sippio didn’t have a mega-deal of a contract, or even a mini-deal for that matter. He didn’t become an All-American while playing at a Big 12 or SEC school. He wasn’t drafted by the NFL. Unlike his cousin Dwayne Bowe, he doesn’t have a big mouth. He never seemed to be about the glitz and glam. He seemed to be a lunch-pail player fighting to keep his dream alive. Despite the improbable nature of his journey towards his dream, he never stopped trekking forward.

The richest of Johnson County aside, I still view Kansas City as a lunch-pale Midwestern town. I certainly see Chiefs fans as a hard-working, blue-collar, lunch-pale group who works their asses off all week just to get to Sunday. When Sunday finally arrives, they want to see guys wearing the Red and Gold that they can relate to, that they can say, hey, he’s one of us. Bobby’s not the first of these guys. Not even close.

Marc Boerighter was one of these guys. Like Sippio, he was a longshot from another league (the CFL). Like Sippio, his heart outmeasured all of his measurables. More gutsy than talented, more driven than blessed. Hey, there are a lot of us who can relate to that. Bennie Thompson was another one of these guys. He was also a former CFL player who played for four NFL teams due solely to his fearless, reckless special teams play. While watching Bennie play, one got the feeling that he would have stepped in front of a dump truck on the field in order to stay on it. Chiefs fans dig that, because there are many of us who would at least think about doing the same just to don the Red and Gold one time, for one play. The latest one of these guys was Boomer Grigsby, who’s personality gave him the lunch-pale persona more than his story did. Undrafted fullback Tony Richardson is probably the most popular of these guys, at least to come along recently. Chris Horn is another good example. So is Gary Stills, an NFL Europe castoff who came back and made a Pro Bowl as a special teamer, as Dante Hall‘s personal escort to the endzone (he’s got a new team, by the way).

The big question: how could a regular person with a still-beating heart root against these underdogs? But root against Sipp some did.

Sippio was the anti-Ryan Sims. Sims had jaw-dropping talent. All he had to do after being picked sixth and handed millions was work hard and try to live up to the hype. He didn’t work hard (except shopping–ask me about it sometime in a chat), and he certainly didn’t live up to the hype. Sipp was the exact opposite. Undrafted and handed thousands, he was a longshot to make the team at best. But he gave it his all. How many Chiefs can we say that about? I can rattle off about 50-60 guys from this decade who didn’t. Probably even more. No doubt about it.

Chiefs fans are also good-natured folks who want their team to represent them and their values. It’s always been that way, and hopefully always will. While players like Bam Morris and Greg Wesley don’t fit this mold, Sippio absolutely did.

Story is also a huge part of it. Hard Knocks may have introduced Sipp’s story to us, but we didn’t need the slickness of HBO and NFL Films to sell us his story. Any warm-blooded, hard-working American football fan could relate. Most professional athletes were pampered in high school, more pampered in college and even more pampered in the pros. I love Larry Johnson, but is it easier to root for multimillionaire and Roc boy L.J. bitching about blocking when he refuses to get his nose in there and block himself, or a guy basically off the street giving every inch of his being to the cause of sticking with an NFL squad? I don’t need to answer that question for you.

Sippio was one of us. A reject from the AFL chasing his improbable dream. He was a hard-working class act who represented the Red and Gold and its fans extremely well. Watching him reminded all of us dreamers that if we continue to press, no matter how unlikely, we can put ourselves in position to grasp the dreams that seem so very far away from us. He reminded us to get up when we knocked down, even when others think it’s crazy or even foolish. To will yourself to go up and get that ball, even if the guy you’re going up against has more God-given talent. That, my fellow Addicts, is called heart. Chiefs fans have it, but our team could use more of it.

Unless Sippio comes back again, this closes the book on Sipp. But I first want to thank him for inspiring us all, for bringing out our inner-Rocky and -Rudy. A slow former small-college D-back turned AFL receiver who came within centimeters of sticking with the Chiefs. His feet were slow, so he dedicated himself to having character, guts, hands and heart.

Thank you, Bobby. You showed us how far an overachiever can go when he works his ass off. Meanwhile, Teicher and the Sippio Haters just showed us their ass.

Topics: Bennie Thompson, Bobby Sippio, Boomer Grigsby, Chiefs, Chris Horn, Gary Stills, Tony Richardson, Vince Papale

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