If you’re like me, you might have a little trouble believing that Thanksgiving is only two days away. There are several obvious reasons for this: Daylight Saving Time just ended. The weather (at least in Kansas City) has been feeling like late September. And, oh yeah—the Chiefs are still relevant.
Many of you might be flying home in the next day or two, either to be closer to family or just because you enjoy a good holiday rub-down from your local TSA agent. Either way, wherever you are, I assume you’re going to be watching (or streaming, or listening to, or tweeting, or live-blogging, or somehow following) the game on Sunday with intense concentration and a little bit of anxiety. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and the Chiefs game matters, and not just as a distraction from four days of aunts and uncles or a brief respite from a tryptofan-induced trance. If the season were a single game, then we’re halfway through the third quarter, and the Chiefs are still in it. In fact, they have a one-touchdown lead—and the ball.
And for that alone, I feel like giving thanks.
After the jump, I’ll list a few specific thank-yous (and I’ll start now by saying thanks for lists, which make putting together a post like this so much easier and more amusing).
> Thank you, Scott Pioli and Todd Haley: In the course of putting together this team, one has always remained very calm and calculating; the other one, not so much—until this year, when it looked like the Chiefs head coach had found a low-key connection to his players. But at the end of the Denver game, he proved he can still bring it. So, Coach Haley, on Thanksgiving, please know this: “There’s a lot of good [bleep] being talked about you.”
> Thank you, Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson: Yes, the recent legacy of losing that you left behind gave the Chiefs the higher draft picks Pioli and company would use effectively to get the talent driving this resurgence. Oh, and as a bonus, the Chiefs got games with Cleveland and Buffalo this year—those two victories are the winning margin that currently has the team in first place. No, neither of those wins came easily, but at least we avoided the Jets, the Pats, the Ravens, and the Steelers.
> Thank you, Bernard Pollard: I’m sure you would’ve liked to still be here to see your plan come together, but knocking Tom Brady out of the first game of the 2008 season—knowing full well that Matt Cassel would step in and succeed, making him an attractive get for fellow Patriot Pioli once Pioli would become Chiefs GM four months later, and that in the latter half of his second season with the Chiefs, Cassel would start to prove that he’s the guy who could take this team where they need to go—that was brilliant.
> Thank you, NFL schedulers: The Chiefs’ six remaining opponents are a combined 27-33 (and that mediocrity is pretty well distributed—not a single team left on the schedule currently has a winning record, not even those charging Chargers). Also, giving the Chiefs the last word at home against the Raiders and Broncos—the teams responsible for the two most painful losses—means a chance to restore balance to the force in the best way possible.
> Thank you, Oakland Raiders: Hating you is fun again. And yet, in just one game in Pittsburgh, you reminded us that to hate you is not to fear you. If the Chiefs pull this off, it will be on their own terms—but if we get to watch you fade in the process, that will be nice, too.
> Thank you, NKOTB and BSB: What? New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys are, like, touring together next summer? Why? I had a good laugh when I saw that, so…yeah, thanks.
> Thank you, Hunt Family: The “new” Arrowhead (special, additional thanks: Jackson County taxpayers) is quite lovely on the outside and around the concourses—the Hall of Honor left almost as much of an impression as the chicken spiedini sandwich. More importantly, once inside, Arrowhead still looks—and even more importantly, sounds—a lot like its old self (not that half-empty 2006-2009 version). While we’re on the subject, thank you, also, for that whole AFL thing, Mr. Hunt. (And now that the Chiefs have a Lamar Hunt monument out front, it would be fantastic if they could get another Lamar Hunt trophy to go with it.)
> Thank you, Cousin Gary: Yes, I know you don’t like to stand during the whole game, but that alone can’t be why you’ve let me use your lower-level season tickets at least once per season since 1995. Bless you.
> Thank you, Kansas City: I am grateful, after more than a decade away, to be living here again, to be home just as my hometown team makes its move back to meaning. Also, of course, by being home, I am now a lot closer to my family—and that means I don’t have to fly anywhere this week. Sorry, TSA.
So? Who would you like to thank? On the other hand, complaints/criticisms are also welcome—the fact that the Chiefs have the kinds of problems that are worth fixing is another thing for which I’m thankful this year.