Fan culture today is much different than it was when I was growing up. Being a “fan” has become a cliche. In the age of ever-changing bandwagons, I wonder how true people are to the sports teams they pledge allegiance to? Does the die-hard fan still exist? Fans seem to fly by night any more.
Ask yourself how many fans of the Miami Heat you know. How many of them would you guess know either Rony Seikaly or Eddie Jones? I’d venture to guess it’s a significantly smaller number. Better yet, how many of them were following the team during its first championship run in 2006? It’s like one long comedy sketch. Repeating itself on an annual basis in college athletics, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NFL.
I’ve been following the Kansas City Chiefs for 27+ years. Over that time, I’ve been to Hell and back with this organization. My memories of the 80′s Chiefs teams are faint. I can’t recall many of the specifics of that era, but the names stick out in my mind. I’ll never forget the iconic players from that period. Seeing the jagged names of players like Dave Lutz, Deron Cherry, Kevin “Rock” Ross, Nick Lowery and Art Still, in block letters, on the backs of those jerseys, helped mold me into a lifelong fan of this football team.
Despite the failings of the 1980′s Chiefs teams, my adoration of this franchise grew exponentially. By the time the 1990′s rolled around, I was old enough to be able to enjoy seeing my beloved football team in person. I saw so many football games inside of Arrowhead Stadium during those years. Back then, it really was the “toughest place to play in NFL.” The 90′s were a decade for defense. A decade where I learned what it meant to be a twelfth man. For the most part, those were the good times.
From 1990-1999, the Chiefs were the winningest team in the NFL (by percentage). Kansas City won the AFC West four times over that stretch and made the AFC Championship Game in 1993. Despite the heartache of the postseason, it was relatively easy to follow this team then. The loyalty of the Chiefs’ fanbase would be tested over the next ten years though (from 2000-2009), as the Chiefs dropped a total of 90 games. It’s that kind of adversity that reveals the character of a fan.
Many of you continue to hang in with the Kansas City Chiefs in spite of their recent struggles. For you, wins and losses are paramount, but ultimately of no consequence to your devotion to this team. I salute you and am honored to find myself in your company. To us, the grapes of victory will be sweetest when the Chiefs and the Lombardi Trophy meet again.
It’s not easy to endure year after year of futility. The endless jokes, the ridicule, and the accumulative disappointment all take a toll on you after a while. The Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in nearly 20 years. There have only been four winning seasons in Kansas City since 2003. The last regime twice lost 12 games in a single season. 2013 marked the first time in franchise history that the Chiefs held the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Things can’t get much worse for this organization. There is literally nowhere else to go, but up.
I know few people who were fans of this football team in 1969 when Chiefs won Superbowl IV. Even so, Chiefs Kingdom is bubbling with renewed faith in the new-look Kansas City Chiefs. Clark Hunt has received a momentary reprieve from accusations of being a disinterested, penny-pinching owner. The Chiefs have a new quarterback who is currently exceeding the expectations of his teammates and the coaching staff. There is reason to believe in Kansas City. None of us knows yet how any of this will play out, but I have a feeling that no matter what happens, a faithful contingent will remain. Hope springs eternal this time of the NFL year. It’s the perfect time to be a fan.
Until next time, Addicts!