2013 K.C. Chiefs: Reed For Meaning

When the Chiefs decided to bring Andre Reed aboard for the summer as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program, it was, generally speaking, a publicly well accepted idea. However, the reality of the addition of ex-wideout Reed may have much, much more meaning.

First, consider what Andre Reed has accomplished: only one wide receiver in the history of the NFL has started more playoff games than Reed (who is tied with Drew Pearson at 21) and that’s Jerry Rice at 29. Reed went to 4 straight Super Bowls (1990-1993) and 7 straight Pro Bowls (1988-1994) and had 87 career TDs ranking him 12th all-time. His 27 Super Bowl receptions (in 4 Super Bowls) is second only to Jerry Rice (33). Reed’s career covered 16 seasons, 217 total game (35th all-time) and he currently is ranked 10th among all wide receivers in NFL history in career receptions with 951. Reed’s 323 yards in the Super Bowls he appeared in are 3rd behind only Jerry Rice and Lynn Swann.

Andre Reed has been up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for many years and been passed by but, many believe his day is not far off and that he truly belongs in Canton with the rest of the best. I would concur.

Reed is not only known for his post season accomplishments but, is recognized for his contributions to the game many refer to as the greatest comeback in NFL history: the Buffalo Bill vs. Houston Oilers on January 3, 1993. I watched that game on TV when it happened and I couldn’t believe what was happening before my very eyes. Andre Reed had 8 receptions for 136 yards and 3 huge TDs, all in the 2nd half, including the go ahead TD for Buffalo’s first lead in the game, 38-35, with barely three minutes to play. It’s even more significant when you consider that the Oilers had been up by 28-3 at halftime. Warren Moon then executed a game tying drive ending in a field goal but, the Bills eventually won out in overtime. When you’re part of a game like that — it never leaves you.

Off the field Andre Reed has been one classy gentleman not only appearing on television shows such as Spikes’ Pros vs. Joes and as an analyst for Fox Sports but, he also has his own foundation called, The Andre Reed Foundation which assists underprivileged children in becoming responsible contributors in their communities.

So, what does this mean for the Kansas City Chiefs?

First of all, it means that Andre Reed gets his day in the sun and hopefully some doors open up for him as he takes advantage of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship. Then, for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chiefs players, it means… it’s time to click their Red Slipper heels together because Dorothy wants to go home.

The flip side of what Reed may mean to the Chiefs and their players can be felt by looking no further than your own heart. Well, to the story we all hold dear to our hearts, the “Wizard of Oz.” Near the end of the story the Wizard, having already bestowed Cowardly Lion a medal for courage and the Tin Man (no, not that Tin Man) a shinny red ticking clock for a heart, turns to Scarecrow and states,

They have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD. The Scarecrow asks, ThD? The Wizard states, that’s… Doctor of Thinkology, and goes on to say, back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.

The point is, Andre Reed could be that wizard.

If you’re playing for the Ravens, Steelers, Giants, Packers or Patriots right now, you already have players on your squad who have their Super Bowl “hearts, medals and T-h-ds.”

In the 47 year long history of the Super Bowl — 10 teams — have appeared as 60 of the 94 (47 x 2) possible contestants. That’s 10 teams taking up 64% of the Super Bowl entries. Conversely, only 36% of the other Super Bowl contestants have been filled by 22 teams, or 69% of the teams in the league (that’s not completely accurate because there’s not always been 32 teams).

Examine the current “winning cultures” of the NFL. Below is a chart showing all contestants in each Super Bowl game for the past 25 years. As they say, “You’ve got to be in it to win it.”

Getting to the Super Bowl is so predominately a “been there done that” event for successful teams, that it has been rare for two teams, within a 25 year period, to show up in the big game for the first time, in the same year. Look at numbers 3, 9 and 15 and each time you’ll see a pair of teams in the Super Bowl who are new to the party… they haven’t been there before that during this 25 year span. Actually, it’s difficult to include the #3 New York Giants because they had been there just a few years previously. That’s why I left the #1 pairing… off of the red list because both the 49ers and the Bears had been there in the 80’s.

Please note: the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t come into the league until 1995 so their absence during the first six years of the chart below are not represented. However, the disparity in these figures is not significant enough that recalibrating them to take the Panthers and the Jags presence into account would matter but by approximately ½ a percentage point.

Any team in bold demarks the first time they made it to the Super Bowl in the 25 years. Teams not bolded, had made it to the Super Bowl previously, during this 25 year period.

Every off season… every team… makes a claim to their chance at making it to the big game… when the reality is much more sobering. As you can see by this chart, in the past 25 years, of the 50 available slots in the Super Bowl, only 20 teams have filled those positions. 12 of those teams were there multiple times, leaving a scant few slots for other teams to vie for.

The point of this is to show that there are only a handful of teams, in any given year, who are operating within the “culture of winning (or at least getting to) the big game.” And, that means there’s a limited number of players in the league who know about how that truly feels, first hand.

Andre Reed is one of those men. He’s been there four times. He’s done it all… except come out on top in the final game. From looking at the record book… that wasn’t Reed’s fault. Plus, he’s been a part of a team that fought for a trophy four straight years in a row. That kind of consisteny is preciously invaluable.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Chiefs wide receiving corp have the best season any Chiefs wide receiving crop has ever had. I believe Reed’s influence could be that far reaching. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Zeus, err, I mean Alex Smith, throwing them some lightning bolts.

The Chiefs don’t have a plethora of players like that on their current roster. Only Alex Smith and Chase Daniel have been on teams (San Francisco, 2013 and New Orleans, 2010) that played for a Super Bowl Trophy but, neither made it onto the field.

However, just making it to the big game changes a player. Listen to what QB Alex Smith had to say in a recent Sports Radio 810 interview,

I feel like the last couple years, having been close, kind of having seen it and not gotten it and in a sense, what happened last year with an injury and then not playing at the end of the year…no question a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s something I feel only winning will get rid of.

When we hear people talking about making a “culture change” or the “culture of winning” perhaps it would be better to think of “culture” in terms of “farming.” Teams, like farms, are constantly “breeding” flocks or “re-seeding” their fields.

If all you’ve known for 25 years is failure, then it’s hard to break the pattern of perpetuating motions that breed frustration, inadequacy and doubt. In that case… everything your personal “knows” is rupture, not rapture: it’s the lineage of losing. They are walking talking diaries spouting their diarrhea of defeatism, at worst … instead of being tellers of well being and soothsayers of success… which is spawned by players who project a positive future from harvesting a victorious past.

I often wonder what it’s been like for Len Dawson all these years. Once you’ve stood at the pinnacle, it’s so much easier to claim a winning vision. Yet, that’s not what he’s witnessed in K.C. since 1970.

Andre Reed can open the hearts and minds of Chiefs players to a culture (farming system) of…

  • being there and understanding what it feels like to “be there”…

  • envisioning the prize and realizing you’re worthy of it…

  • paying attention to the particulars of preparing for success…

  • never giving up, no matter how far down you get…

  • set your sights and you will scale the heights…

  • transcending limitations and overcoming obstacles…

  • winning by changing the game, the blame game…

  • feeling like you belong.

And… much, much more. Winning begets winning. Otherwise, you better hang out with a winner.

Andre Reed is that guy. And Andy Reid knows that Andre Reed knows it. Andy Reid has been to the big show too so, you can bet he knows the value of having a player, though he’s a former player, around to show, share and shine his light.

It’s one thing to talk the talk… such as the Chiefs have been doing this off season… but, to walk the walk with someone who has already walked the walk… side by side… can make a huge difference and help to bring about a full frontal-lobe quixotic revolution.

Having actual winning experiences… can totally alter the meaning of… saying all the right things.

John Dorsey knows the feeling. Andy Reid knows the feeling. Alex Smith and Chase Daniel know too. The Chiefs are bringing in more and more people who know what it feels like to get there. The plan is for the rest of the squad can join them soon.

Andre Reed may be there in training camp to help himself. But, don’t blame me if I “read” the situation… allegorically.

Of such is the parenthetical parody of a paradox. Don’t worry, I’m just stuck in that vacuum and it sucks sometimes.

What do you think Addict fans? Can Reed’s presence make a meaningful difference for the Chiefs?

Go Chiefs!

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