Chiefs: Kansas City Or Bust

1 Feature From The Bleachers

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 1 Lamar Hunt 1960where 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.

Great fans.

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.

1 Len Dawson and Hank StramLen Dawson. He’s the one man…player… leader… and soulful voice… who comes to mind when mentioning “loyalty and the Chiefs” in the same sentence. He’s the real and genuine article. He’s “The Dude.”

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,

1 Vance Walker Tweet

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.”

1 Husain AbdullahLooking over the past 15 months and summing up the kinds of players the new Chiefs leadership have brought in is satisfying.

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.

1 Walt DisneyKansas 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.

1 KC Picture groupWe 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.

1 KC BBQLamar 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.”

1 Boy peeing Fountain

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  • berttheclock

    “Smelly stockyards”? Laddie, have you been in a time warp and gone back in time to the fifties? That smell has been gone for eons. Now, let me tell you there was nothing quite like sitting on a streetcar crossing the 23rd viaduct in July with all of the windows open and that incredible aroma wafting throughout the car. Of course, that didn’t stop many a suit from driving past the American Royal and dining on some of the finest beef in the world at the Golden Ox. Interesting that it would be hard to find anyone making such a comment about Chicago, which, at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair, was the foulest smelling city on the planet.

    • ladner morse

      Not my perceptions… just what I’ve heard. I guess it’s a good day for those old perceptions to die hard.

      • berttheclock

        Funny thing about perceptions. When, we first moved to Portland from Seattle, I had been warned to never mention we came from Seattle. The reason was should I mention such, the first response from Portlandians would be “Oh, but, it always rains in Seattle”. Of course, none of them wanted to believe more rain was measured as falling at PDX than SeaTac because they “Knew”. However, great piece written by you about KC. I have decided to put KC and Arrowhead at the top of my new Bucket List.

        • chiefridgy

          Good choice!

        • Chris Tarrants

          That’s no lie, I have never been to Seattle but I had one of my exturnships at a vet clinic in Portland. I swear it rained all but one day that I was there, and I was there for three weeks! Same thing every day 50′s and raining

        • Troy Utt

          Bert, I hope you make it out to KC & to Arrowhead, I promise you’ll not be disappointed! For any Chief fan it truely is one of the wonders of the modern world, there is nothing like it… No matter what time of year or what game you go to!

  • chiefridgy

    Great piece Laddie! Thanks.

  • Phillip Maxwell

    As some of you might remember, I am a lifelong Chiefs fan from Ca. I have dreamt of going to Arrowhead for over 20 years and finally made it this last season. Not ONCE was I met with anything but hospitality and graciousness from the people of KC. Even the food servers next to the busts greeted me with a smile. I tailgated and was offered food by several complete strangers! Great place. Great people! Great atmosphere!
    Mark my words….those free agents that left are going to sorely miss that.

  • freshmeat62

    As dad used to say “Stink? That isn’t stink! That’s money honey!” I remember fondly the trips from Maryville to the stock yards with either a load of hogs or cattle. Dad would stay at the yards while mom would take me, and my bro and sis on a street car up 12th st. Always had to go into Macy’s, and then up the hill to Katz so mom could get her fountain cherry coke. More shopping and then meet dad for “dinner” (not lunch, like city folk called it) at the Forum Cafeteria.

    • freshmeat62

      I didn’t want to ruin my memories in the preceding post, so I saved this for a separate post.

      As I remember that recomendation can work against KC also, when Joe Montana told Steve Bono what a nice place KC was, then Bozo comes here and can’t find a good restaurant.

      • berttheclock

        Yeah, had only The Leopard Cafe and Ernies opened outlets from SF.

    • matt youngberg

      Wow cool Maryville I was born in Maryville

    • berttheclock

      Many a time walking down that long counter with my Mom at the Forum.

    • ladner morse

      freshmeant… amazing memories… thanks so much, you made my day!

  • matt youngberg

    Ya I am a lifelong chiefs fan . I grew up in Kansas city . I also lived there for about 30 years. It is a great football city . One of my earliest memory of going to arrowhead was going to a game in the 80s against the Broncos and the stadium was only a third full. I aslo remember going to the Steelers playoff game with Montana throwing the game winning touchdown pass. Great memories of arrowhead. My grandfather used to have season tickets to the old memorial stadium. What’s everyone else’s fondest memory of arrowhead?

    • ladner morse

      That would be…….. having my 14 year old daughter fall asleep next to me while a crazy great game was going on in front of us… was the first year Montana arrived… but what I’ll never forget… frozen in time… are the moments spent with my daughter.

      • matt youngberg

        Ya I remember that Steelers game in the playoffs with Montana. It was so cold. I was in high school and I was helping with parking cars in the parking lot, and then once the game started . Everyone that was parking cars with me got to enter the stadium threw the tunnel underneath the stadium.

        • ladner morse

          How cool was that?!

          • matt youngberg

            Ya it was pretty cool. You park cars before the game and then get in for free . Then you try to find a empty seat.

          • matt youngberg

            It was pretty cool

    • freshmeat62

      Had season tickets 1st year in Arrowhead, west endzone, row 9, directly behind left upright. Playing the Eagles (I think) on one of the coldest most miserable days. The wife and I are huddled together under a blanket keeping each other very, VERY warm. Couldn’t wait to get home.

      • berttheclock

        Hey, speaking of nostalgia, I just felt very old. I was reading about the Pro Day at Stanford, of which the Chiefs did not attend. I wanted to read about the safety, Ed Reynolds, Jr. What made me feel very old was reading his dad, who played for the Giants, was born about 30 some klicks up the road from my kaserne in West Germany, in January of 1961, the same month I arrived for my 33 month tour. From the article, his dad is making a big pitch to Tom Coughlin to draft his son for the Giants.

        • freshmeat62

          Yeah, I was kind of looking at Reynolds as a possibility also. Guess not.

          One I’m looking too is Monday at NC ST. FS named Dontae Johnson. Kind of flying beneath the radar. Most project as 5th rd or later, but had some good numbers at combine.

  • berttheclock

    Meanwhile, Kendrick Lewis has taken the route of the old Texas Chief out of KC to Houston, where, he will find a home with Romeo. $795,000 for one year and $100,000 guaranteed. Geez, in the old days, that would have been more than enough for classy Pullman accommodations.

  • Stan Colbert

    Brilliant observations! All of my life as a Kansan people ask, why would you want to live there? Living half way between KC & Den. relatives wonder why not trade allegiances to Denver? One reason I hate NBA is because players get a name and want to go to L.A.
    By God! I live on flat ground! I love my family! I love my Chiefs!
    Nice to think Dorsey is instilling the same feeling in the team.

    • Danny W

      I’m working in Colby KS right now and have worked across the state in the passed year. It seems that half the state is divided between Denver and KC with the majority leaning towards Denver. I have a feeling most would be leaning towards KC if we had the better record and football team.

      • Stan Colbert

        I was raised 50 miles east of Colby on highway 24! Went to college at Hays, and also lived in Garden City.

        • Danny W

          I’m a lineman and our show up in a little town called Hoxie. We just left Hays I like it better there than Colby.

          • Stan Colbert

            You really leave civilization west of Hays. I know Hoxie very well. Should be able to concentrate on work there!

          • berttheclock

            When I think of Hays, I remember the great scene from “Paper Moon” which was shot just outside Hays in a grave yard. During the scene, one camera did a 360 degrees shot which showed a tree, a silo, another tree, another silo and a lot of open prairie.

          • Stan Colbert

            That movie was in fact made near Hays! My grandmother lived there and knew friends who were extras in the movie. When Kansas became a territory and county borders were set upGraham county contained two trees I have been told.

  • Danny W

    I personally hold no personal emotional ties with the city itself. I personally loath a city and the dense populations and would rather live in the confines of the peaceful woods. People know you personally and know you well. I do love how though when you go to a game that camaraderie you feel that in unison everyone comes together to cheer for the good of one thing though. In that three hour time span you can sense unity in diversity on a mass scale. That unification of passion on a mass scale makes you feel indescribable in my opinion. Oh and the smashing and hitting. That really makes a big difference too.

  • Cole Martin

    You could at least acknowledge all fans not just Johnson/Jackson county fans like they are the only ones

    • Cole Martin

      Also to note I read the entire article til I got to that section and quit because of how you wrote that part

      • ladner morse

        Cole, my apologies. Since the article was in many ways about mis-perceptions of K.C…. I appreciate you pointing that out as well.

        I in no way intended to imply that the only counties that support the Chiefs are those two counties. It was meant more to point out the unusual situation in which there is a “duality” of support from… two states… two cities and of course more than two counties… I see the importance of pointing that out now. Sorry for leaving out the many other wonderful, equally important and equally passionate fans from all over the K.C. metroplex… as well as all over the world. That certainly was never my intent. Kansas City is such a peculiar and special place that I was only attempting to share that many people (free agents in particular) were missing out, by not truly getting to know the city and surrounding areas.

        Once again, my apologies.