But we’re renewing the tickets again, and my late cousin Timmy helps explain why. Unforgettable events can happen out there, on and off the field. The current owner of the tickets, my 24-year-old nephew Jake Helliker, takes comfort in knowing the tickets were passed down from his father, his late grandfather and his late great grandfather, who won them in a Boy Scout’s raffle in 1967. In our family, Chiefs games have been a part of Sunday afternoons for 45 years, if only because of the fights that would ensue about who had to go. “Sometimes Daddy had a heck of a time finding anyone to go with him,” recalls Mom, referring to my father.
Sure enough, my brothers and I often hid when Dad came looking for somebody to use that second ticket. We’d rather play outside than go to a Chiefs game. Since we worked for Dad—throwing newspapers on the enormous delivery franchise he’d purchased—it was also akin to spending Sunday afternoon with the boss.
The Chiefs had rallied behind Jamaal Charles’ 226 yards rushing to tie the game 13-13 heading into the fourth quarter. The Colts’ defense stuffed quarterback Brady Quinn on fourth-and-inches to give Luck a chance.
That’s all he needed.
After a miserable stretch in which he connected on 1 of 13 passes, the fabulous freshman calmly led Indianapolis (10-5) downfield. He completed a key pass to T.Y. Hilton on third down and made two nice throws to Wayne before hitting the veteran in the back of the end zone.
“That last drive, we knew the situation,” said linebacker Derrick Johnson. “We needed to get off the field. The defense played pretty good most of the game, but that drive right there, we couldn’t get them off the field.”
Luck had thrown 10 consecutive incomplete passes, but facing a third-and-four at the Colts’ 31, he connected with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for 11 yards and a first down. Two plays later, on a second-and-11, Luck, pump-faked and hit Wayne for 18 yards on a screen to the Chiefs’ 39.
The 2-13 Chiefs, their playoff hopes long ago realistically and mathematically extinguished, have nothing to play for in that regard. But the game otherwise holds some intrigue, historically and otherwise.
The Chiefs would get the first pick in the draft for the first time since they joined the NFL by losing. They would also get the first pick if Jacksonville, also 2-13, beats Tennessee, regardless of whether the Chiefs beat the Broncos or not.
There is no way to know what Jamaal Charles’ life is like right now. This is how he wants it. If the conversation moves too close to his heart, he reminds you that he will not talk about the day his friend and teammate shot a beloved family member multiple times before turning the gun on himself.
So football questions only from you. Football answers only from him. This is how he chooses to cope.