It was when I moved to Brooklyn that I first started writing about the Chiefs. I had come here, like so many, with vague dreams but few real plans. My first few months were spent in a state of limbo. Performing, mostly poorly, on the local comedy circuit and burning through the money I’d saved doing medical studies at Quintiles*. It was a strange time in my life. I missed many things about Kansas City. My friends, my family, Loose Park, Gates sauce, Westport, the zoo**. I won’t bore you by listing the places I liked to eat, but the point is, I missed the land that birthed me. And while I dearly love all the aforementioned things about KC, this was in March and April, ie free agency and the draft. So I missed those silly Chiefs most of all.
*I spent the last six months of my time in Kansas City advancing medical science. What drove me to take such risks? Who can say? All I know is that when the call went out for jobless, 18-30 year-old males, I answered. Feel free to congratulate me in the comments section, but just so you know, I’ve never been comfortable with the word hero.
**During my later KC years, I took to going to the zoo by myself (friend of the zoo, as a matter of fact). It probably sounds weird, and it definitely felt a little weird. Hard to blend in as a solo adult at the zoo. But walking is the pace for thinking, and what better place to walk than a park full of exotic animals? I’m surprised more people don’t do it, frankly. You won’t find better scenery anywhere in Kansas City.
I began writing about them, mainly just to pass the time. I didn’t have anyone to talk Chiefs with. And yet, like any of us, I was thinking about them constantly. I mean, this was during the buildup to the 2008 draft. We had the #5 pick, another first round pick, three third round picks, and 12 picks overall. There was never, and will probably never be, a more interesting draft for us. I felt like I needed to write about it, so I started. And I never stopped. Big Matt’s Chiefs Chat was born.
Last summer I noticed Arrowhead Addict was hiring, and I thought I’d throw my name in the ring. But our esteemed colleague Mr. P. Allen (potential nickname: Mr P?) didn’t just hire me sight-unseen. The interview process was long and arduous. I made the mistake of letting Paddy know that I too lived in New York City. He immediately suggested a face-to-face. It was the first of three times we’d meet before I got the job.
“Hey Matt. Thanks for your application. Attached are the directions to my bunker. Come by at 5am sharp. All will be revealed. -Patrick Allen”
This was the response I got to my first application. It was unexpected, to say the least. But I wanted the job, so I ventured to the address listed and found myself knocking on the door of a dingy basement office on the lower east side. The door creaked open slowly, seemingly of its own accord, revealing a dark, dank room lit by a single dangling light bulb. Sitting at a desk in the back of the room was a man I recognized from pictures as Paddy. He was polishing a large rifle.
Paddy: Hey Matt, have a seat.
me: Uh, thanks. So…
Paddy: First things first, we’ve got to get you a gun. You’ll need it. Soon, if everything goes according to plan.
me: Wait, what?
Paddy: You are here about membership in the New York State militia, right?
me: Um, no. I’m here about the Arrowhead Addict staff writer position.
Paddy: Oh, right. That. OK, well…….we should probably still get you a gun, just in case you change your mind. But not here! We can’t talk here. I think this place is bugged. I’ve been speaking pig latin all morning just in case. And wearing a fake mustache whenever I leave. Those bastards at PBS aren’t gonna catch me so easily this time.
me: PBS? As in–
Paddy: I’ll tell you what, meet me at my apartment tomorrow at midnight. And bring whiskey. I prefer Ten High. Good day to you.
With that I was ushered out the door, which slammed behind me. I saw a pair of eyes peering at me through the blinds, which were then quickly snapped shut. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.
* * *
It was not without some trepidation that I arrived at Paddy’s Brooklyn digs the following evening. I mean, midnight on a Tuesday is a pretty weird time for a job interview. And that whole gun thing still bugged me a little. This guy was starting a militia? And had some kind of beef with public broadcasting? Was this really who I wanted to be getting involved with?
His apartment was easy to find and in a decent neighborhood, so my concerns were allayed somewhat. Until, that is, I went inside. I found myself in a huge studio apartment. Bam Morris memorabilia was everywhere. There were twenty or so jars of what appeared to be urine in one corner. An empty birdcage in another. A freestanding toilet in a third. Paddy was sitting on a stool in the middle of the room wearing nothing but bike shorts. He had a massive easel set up and was painting feverishly.
Paddy: Matt, welcome! Can I get you something to drink? You like tomato juice, right?
me: Not really. I’m fine.
Paddy: I’m gonna get you a glass of milk. (pours some warm milk from an unmarked container into a Styrofoam cup). OK, lets get down to business…..
We talked football for hours, Paddy painting furiously the entire time. I won’t bore you with the whole conversation, but here are a few quotes:
“Did I think Frank Moreau was a good running back? Yes. Did I think he was a great running back?………yes.”
“Clancy Pendergast is my uncle. Growing up we called him uncle Clance.”
“I don’t care what anyone says, I still think Elvis Grbac is a very handsome man.”
“Bam Morris hasn’t been responding to my letters lately. I think he’s in trouble.”
“Yeah I ran into Mike Solari once. Told him ‘thanks for the memories.’”
“I guess I knew I wanted to run a Chiefs blog when Jesus told me I should. Jesus Thompson, lives in 3H.”
“I’m a big fan of Adam Sandler’s more recent work.”
We talked and talked, Paddy painting all the while. Eventually it got pretty late and I told him I had work in the morning. He said he’d enjoyed meeting me, but that he still wasn’t sure about whether I’d be a good fit for AA, and he’d have to get back to me. On my way out I couldn’t resist asking one more question:
me: So Pat, I gotta ask, what is it you’ve been painting this whole time? I’ve never seen someone so focused.
Paddy: Yeah, OK, I guess I can show you. I’m almost done. This one is going to be my masterpiece. Been working on it for the better part of five years. Several hundred hours, all told.”
He turned the painting around. It was a giant piece of poop wearing an Elway jersey.
I didn’t hear back from him for over a month. It seemed certain he’d moved on to other candidates. Then one night while walking down 1st ave minding my own business, a man was thrown out the door of one of the local bars and onto the sidewalk. He landed face-first in a pile of garbage. I hurried over to help him up, and was shocked to find the mystery ejectee was none other than Patrick Allen.
Paddy (wiping garbage off himself): God forbid a guy hang out in the ladies room for one measly hour….
Paddy (after a pause): Tim! Hows it goin’ man? How are the kids?
me: No, its Matt. Matt Finucane. The guy who applied for the AA gig, remember?
Paddy: Oh, right! I’ve been meaning to get back to you but I, uh, forgot the last digit of your pager #. Say, you know where a guy can get a good fish sandwich at this hour?
me: Papaya Dog has a decent one. I’m headed that way, I’ll walk with you.
Paddy: I like your moxie. You’re hired!
And that, as they say, was that. Me and Paddy noshed the hell out of those fish sandwiches, and I’ve been writing for AA ever since. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
note: I decided to leave the CBA alone for this week. In the meantime, go here. If we’re going to be subjected to continuous, pathetic, full-court press spin by Goodell and the owners (and we are), the players’ responses should be required reading as well.