In 1959, Lamar Hunt attempted twice to get into the NFL by either starting a football franchise or buying one. Neither worked. So, he just started his own league. Hunt had grown up in Dallas but, his team, The Dallas Texans, weren’t a great draw in the first two years of their existence and The Dallas Cowboys were even less of a draw with both playing their home games in the Cotton Bowl. One thing Hunt would never allow himself to become was… a failure… and so he determined to move someplace where his team could succeed: hello Kansas City, Missouri.
In a sense, Lamar was one of the first “free agents” ever. More importantly, he wanted to move his team to Kansas City.
That same spirit of “wanting” to come to Kansas City has been at issue ever since.
From Joe Montana naming the team he’d accept a trade too… to Peyton Manning shunning fountain town for the Rockies of Colorado… “the want” to be in K.C. remains a central issue to who the Kansas City Chiefs have been, are, and are becoming.
That issue has never been more prevalent than during this 2014 Free Agency period.
Listen to recent free agent signing ILB Joe Mays when asked, “What was the biggest factor in getting you to Kansas City?”
“There are so many different factors, like having a great place for my family, you know, family comes first for me. I want to go to a place where my family would love it, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. That was important to me.”
A family environment.
Then Mays goes on to mention his people connection, like Andy Reid, Weston Dressler and that he’d spoken with ex-Chiefs Safety Quintin Demps who spoke so highly of K.C. saying,
“The fans here are great; it’s just a great place to be, a great organization, a great team and a great family-type atmosphere.”
Great family atmosphere.
Great team & organization.
The Chiefs “lost” several starters this offseason to teams who were willing to pay them more and had the ability to do that. I can’t help but feel that in most cases, if each of those players truly “wanted” to be in Kansas City, playing for the Chiefs, they could have worked something out. However, that goes both ways. You can want to be some place, but you must also be wanted, for that to work.
In other words, now that these ex-Chiefs have chosen to go elsewhere, there’s nothing about them that would make me want to see them in a Chiefs uniform again.
That’s simply how relationships work. Why would you want someone around who doesn’t want to be with you?
That’s why I’m super hyped to see the roster continuing to be molded and made over because the more time goes by… the higher the likelihood that every player on the roster will truly and deeply “want” to be in K.C and playing for our Chiefs. Which also means that GM John Dorsey and HC Andy Reid will have the team… that they can call their own.
The team is then based upon an atmosphere of loyalty. And what “is” loyalty but, long-term consistent wanting.
However, loyalty in the age of free agency is like… a tie game… and what does that really feel like? Like old Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz used to say… it’s like kissing your sister.
If any of you were around at the end of the 1990’s to watch ex-Chiefs DL Neil Smith go to Denver and help the John Elway led Broncos seize two Super Bowl wins… part of you may have felt good for Smith… and part of you may have felt betrayed. It’s natural. You easily could feel both ways. I did and do.
In many ways, Neil Smith and Peyton Manning just don’t get it.
I like the direction GM John Dorsey is heading with the development of the team roster. While some teams are drawn to the big fancy name brand stars, Dorsey is quietly amassing a group of players who are not only skilled but are also quality individuals. A theme that has been appearing in player interviews over the past 15 months is, “That Family Feeling” when team members are describing their Chiefs teammates and what it’s like to play for Andy Reid.
Word of mouth. It’s a powerful way to spread the word in the “business world.” In personal life, it’s your reputation. Chiefs players (ex and existing) are becoming a part of the “recruiting process” when it comes to getting new players into K.C. uniforms. Quintin Demps is one example. Demps didn’t have to give a glowing recommendation to ILB Joe Mays. But, he did, and now here’s Mr. Mays in red and gold, signed sealed and delivered. It happened with Weston Dressler too. Dressler said shortly after his signing with the Chiefs,
“Just talking with some of the guys in the Chiefs organization, they believe I have the skills and ability to play in the NFL.”
To borrow a bit from an old Starkist Tuna commercial… “The Chiefs don’t want players who are just great characters, they want players with great character.” One of those players would be new Chiefs defensive end Vance Walker. When Walker was signed he tweeted the following,
When asked about what interested Walker in the Kansas City Chiefs, he said,
“I love the environment and the program there and what they’re building there. As far as myself, I fit in a good bit with the team that they’re employing on defense. I saw a lot of good possibilities for myself just to help the team, as well for them to be more successful than last year. I’m really excited about that.”
Vance Walker is quickly becoming one of my favorite personalities on the Chiefs roster. In an interview with Reid Ferrin at KCChiefs.com, he went on to say this about Chiefs fans,
“I’ve gotten a very warm welcome, since I’ve been there and signed. The fans have definitely lived up to their reputation. Just being an opponent, last year, and playing in the Chiefs stadium at Arrowhead, it was tough. I believe it may have been the game they broke the record for the loudest stadium. Just to have those fans being so energetic really adds to the game, especially on defense, as a defensive guy. I think they do a great job. It’s a football city and I’m really excited to play.”
When the Chiefs decided to bring Husain Abdullah back this year and sign him to a two year deal after giving him a one year contract following his one-year religious hiatus, Abdullah said,
“These were people who took their time to actually truly scout me and not just the on-the-field stuff, but who I am as a man off the field as well….”
There’s a picture emerging of who these Chiefs are actually becoming and I’ve never been more proud to be a Chiefs fanatic.
Kansas City will always be the Kansas City I love. Cutting edge and historic jazz everywhere you go. The endlessness of art at venues such as the Nelson-Atkins, the Kimble, the Kemper & so many more places. BBQ to live for. Forever fountains forever. The classiness of Hallmark and Crown Center. Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland: Kansas City’s Electric Park.
The melding of two states, cities, and counties — Kansas/Missouri, KCK/KCMO, and Johnson/Jackson counties — to create the most faithful and rabid corp of fans in the NFL, and whether you say, “the PLAHza” or “the Plaazuh”… we are all recognized as one giant sized Chiefs family of fanatics beyond compare.
We are… family. To all who don’t get that, there’s no way to explain it. I’ve lived in the Dallas area now for a number of years but my heart home will always be K.C.. Whenever I run into a Kansas Citian here in Dallas, they always want to chat about Kansas City and I’m always glad to oblige… especially since they so often catch me in a Chiefs jersey.
One lingering and nasty perception of Kansas City I’ve heard is that it’s a second-class city dominated by smelly stock yards. While many Kansas Citians are proud of their stockyard heritage, that’s certainly not all there is to see… or smell.
Lamar Hunt believed deeply in our city, the people and it’s place. From a book called, “Lamar Hunt: The Gentle Giant Who Revolutionized Professional Sports,” by David A.F. Sweet who quotes Lamar Hunt as touting,
“Kansas City is really a wonderful place… It amazes me how things happen. One of the blessings of my life was moving the Texans to Kansas City.”
Any modern day athlete who doesn’t understand Lamar Hunt’s legacy… a huge part of which is his belief in Kansas City… one can only shrug and say, your loss.
General Manager John Dorsey continues to refer to “The Plan” he and Andy Reid and his staff have laid out. Considering who — and how — these players have been scouted and signed, we’re beginning to get a much clearer picture of this, “Plan.”
In a recent interview, John Dorsey said,
“I couldn’t ask for a better place to be. I mean, this is what I’ve always dreamt about. This is what I’ve always heard about. I’m just happy to be here at One Arrowhead Drive.”