Yes, this past Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2010 season ended with a thud on the cold, hard, two-toned turf of Arrowhead Stadium. And just like that, a nation of Chiefs fans was cut off cold turkey.
If you’re like me—and if you’re reading (or for that matter, purposefully avoiding) this blog right now, I know that in some way you are—you’re experiencing a bit of a psychological break. We’ve all been on a weekly cycle of ebb and flow…win and sometimes lose…soar and crash…vent and recover…for the last four-plus months, and it’s not the kind of routine you just delicately step away from.
Last week, Lyle made a nice analogy between our Chiefs’ uneven progress and the art of potty-training, explaining that with any young team, fits and starts and “accidents” are all part of the process. To apply my own, much more convoluted and less appropriate bathroom-related analogy, one might say that the Kansas City Chiefs’ season rather suddenly went down the toilet on Sunday. And now that our toilet is clogged to the point of cracking because it’s full of Chiefs (Shaun Smith in particular), it sure would be nice if we could just shut off the water main and remove the pressure from the situation.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way with adrenaline.
According to something I found on the interwebs, social psychologists have found that “sports fans may experience physiological changes that directly relate to the observed athletes’ hormone levels, demonstrating that a valid, even physical, relationship exists between the two parties.” That’s just weird.
But the point is that our psyches have been feeding off the energy (or occasional notable lack thereof) that this team has been feeding us and now the primary supply is exhausted, at least for the next several months.
Of course, even though our proud Chiefs ended their short playoff run being pecked apart and bird-pooped out by the Ravens on Sunday, the team had already exceeded expectations and most of us feel pretty good about the season overall. I mean, there have definitely been darker days in the wake of a playoff loss. In 1996, after Lin Elliot missed a record 19* field goals in one game and the Chiefs dropped a 10-7 heartbreaker (or, in keeping with the analogy, “toilet-breaker”) to Jim Harbaugh’s Colts, it was like the onset of the apocalypse. In fact, Sports Illustrated reported—in its weekly Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us—that dozens of K.C. fans had signed up for a group-therapy session called “Chiefs Grief.”
*Was it 19? It felt like 19.
Soon enough, any lingering bitterness will disappear altogether and we can look toward the 2011 season in earnest. Of course, that’s already happening right here, where, in many ways, the season never ends. Personally, I’m feeling reassured as I head into my first Chiefs off-season with AA. But for those of you who, like me, don’t find little dramas like “Charlie Weis and The Case of the Purloined Playbook” quite satisfying enough yet and need something to distract us until the worst of the tremors subside, here are a few completely random diversions:
Fun Word Games! > After months of crunching stats, stretch out your brain with some varied mental stimulation. For example, unscramble the following NFL team names:
NAGLBSE LSLBI RBNOOSC WOSNRB BRECUCESAN
SLRCAINDA OCOSBYW DPNSHIOL IGNTAS RSGRECAH
GASURAJ GNKSIVI NSTAIT STXENA LNISO SE4R9
ISSNTA IRENKSSD ASRM RSAERDI LOTCS ANSRHPET
When finished, take a moment to consider how long the list is and how many teams are on it. Realize that all of these teams’ fans saw their seasons end before the Chiefs’ did. Smile meekly.
Get Out Of Town! > A few days away in the Caribbean sure might seem nice this time of year—but for those Kansas City Chiefs fans who truly want to feel better about themselves, might I suggest Cleveland or Detroit?*
*Poor Cleveland. Poor Detroit.
Volunteer! > What better way to take your mind off your own misfortunes than to reach out and help those who are less fortunate than you. No, really, it totally makes you feel better.*
*For a fuller catharsis, the above can be combined: Why not volunteer in Cleveland?
A Good Book! > Of course, you can always lose yourself in a faraway place without going anywhere: Adventure, mystery, romance, science fiction—whatever drives your Camaro (though you may want to avoid certain titles).
More YouTube Fun! > I know, linebacker Ray Lewis may not be someone you feel like seeing right now. He was not kind to the Chiefs on Sunday, and, as we all know, he may or may not have been an accomplice to murder—but he did also willingly participate in this. (I found watching it somewhat therapeutic.)
Tony G! > You know that #88 jersey that you still wear to Arrowhead or the local sports bar for every game? Don’t pack it away for the winter just yet. Tony Gonzalez may not be the Pro-Bowler he once was, and his signature post-touchdown dunks over the crossbar are looking a little more like lay-ups, but he has a real chance to make his first Super Bowl. And now that the Ravens have removed any potential conflict of interest, you can stand up and root like hell for a real talent who used to play in Kansas City. It’s what Royals fans have been doing for years!
What about the rest of you Addicts? How are you calming the shivers? What are you going to do immediately to fight the post-Chiefs withdrawal?