While most Chiefs fans are excited about the prospect of Peyton Manning coming to Kansas City, the harsh reality of what his presence on the team could mean has likely not yet set in.
How could it? Right now, the Chiefs are still what they’ve always been. They’re a lovable loser, the underdog, the dark horse to land Manning. Kansas City fans are used to being disappointed, used to being ignored on ESPN.
But if Peyton comes to KC, that will all change.
Though the situation will often be compared to the arrival of Joe Montana back in the ’90s (it is already), Manning Fever breaking out in KC in 2012 will be a totally different animal. We now live in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. While there are plenty of great outlets, like the FanSided Network, to get great team coverage targeted to your interest, many fans are still slaves to ESPN and more recently, NFL Network. The ESPNs of the world love to take what’s popular and run with it, less interesting stories/sports cities be damned.
Making fans hate other sports teams and players is what ESPN does best. They are the masters of driving stories so far into the ground that they come out the other side of the Earth, stop, turn back around and go right back in. They made you hate Tim Tebow. They made you vomit every time you heard the name Brett Favre. They created “The Heat Index” a section of their website devoted specifically to the Miami Heat, when LeBron James “took his talents to South Beach.”
And they’ll make the world hate the Chiefs too.
There is no better example than the way the Philadelphia Eagles were raked over the coals for simply manning up (no pun intended) and signing some quality free agents. As if things weren’t already going to be bad enough, Vince Young made the honest mistake of saying that the Eagles were like “a dream team.” Young, who looked around and saw a collection of some of the league’s top players, was clearly just excited to be playing on a team with so much talent. He didn’t mean to be arrogant. He didn’t mean to imply the Eagles were sure to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. He was actually just pointing out what everyone else was kind of already thinking: that the Eagles had landed a ton of quality free agents and that they were going to be very good.
From that moment on, the media ate them alive. Fans and media members alike reveled in the fact that the Eagles got off to slow start. Never mind that three of their early four losses came against the Falcons, 49ers and eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
The expectations were high, the Eagles were the villain and the villain was getting his. It made us all feel better.
Like it or not, should Peyton Manning come to Kansas City, the same thing is likely to happen to the Chiefs. KC has a ton of young talent on both offense and defense. With their ample cap space, they are sure to land a couple of other quality free agents. Add to that a draft where they are picking 11th overall, the return of Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki and you have yourself a damn good football team, playing in a weak division. The media will declare the Chiefs the immediate favorites in the AFC West and will almost certainly start promoting their dream scenario AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Chiefs.
Manning vs. Brady!
Pioli and Romeo vs. Belichick and McDaniels!
Think of the intrigue. Think of the ratings. The Chiefs play the Colts next season.
The Chiefs play the Broncos and Tim Tebow…TWICE!
ESPN needs a new pair of slacks.
If you aren’t a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs (and maybe even if you are) it will annoy you to no end. You’ll hear about Peyton and the Chiefs so much people will start to refer to them as the Kansas City Mannings.
Manning coming to KC could be great for Chiefs fans. It will mean unending excitement, primetime games and a spotlight for a city that is so often overlooked for the bright lights of New York, LA and Chicago. It will surely be fun.
But it will also bring with it a ton of vitriol, jealousy and hate. The Chiefs will no longer be the lovable loser.
They’ll be the team that everyone outside of Kansas City loves to hate.
And the organization and its fans had better be ready for that.