These past few years have not been a great time to be a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. And really, you could probably say the same thing about the entire decade. Even during the halcyon Marty years, playoff wins were few and far between. I don’t need to tell you this, you’ve lived it.
Despite suffering our first blackout in 19 years, I think Chiefs fans have held up admirably under the circumstances. The candle has flickered, but not gone out. The passion is still there. If we even sniff .500, KC is going to go nuts, and its going to be awesome. I’m proud to be a part of a fan base like that. It’s been a consistently enjoyable part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Our passion is beyond question, but over the past few years I’ve noticed that passion sometimes turning to its ugly cousin, militant homerism. That bums me out. Homerism might not seem like such a bad thing to some of you, but it can have some seriously negative effects on a fan base. It impedes accurate analysis, sets us up for letdowns, and, this is gonna sting a little, but it makes us look stupid. I’m sorry to have to go there, but I feel like it needs to be said.
Two years ago I went on a Chiefs website and posted a comment disagreeing with someone who said Rudy Niswanger (who we’d barely seen play at that point) was going to be a beast. The responses ranged from “you’re a bad fan”, to “you’re a douche bag”, to “When this rebuild works you’re going to look like an idiot.” I was new to the Chiefs blogosphere, and it was a real eye-opener for me.
Of course, the rebuild didn’t work. And as we all know, Rudy Niswanger is no beast. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here, trust me. Recognizing that Herm Edwards was bound for failure was hardly a stunning feat of intellect. Most intelligent Chiefs fans I knew felt the same way. My point is, I made some fairly obvious observations and was immediately attacked for it. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is fairly common in the Chiefs blogosphere. For much of the fan base, criticism of the organization is simply not allowed.
That way of thinking is scary to me. It’s the type of thing that puts dictators in power. Rational evaluation gives way to blind faith, and anyone who dares question the glorious leader is ostracized. This is homerism. It’s the NFL’s version of fundamentalism. Accept the front office dogma, or you are either a bad fan or an idiot. Criticism is heresy. That’s how homers roll.
Of course, homerism isn’t just directed at other fans. It applies to people in football, too. If they’re not on board with the Chiefs, well then that’s on them. It couldn’t possibly be on the Chiefs. Eric Hicks criticizes the ridiculous security measures? He was a bum. Bernard Pollard gets cut? He sucked anyway. Jay Glazer tells an unflattering story about Scott Pioli? He’s a hack. Bill Simmons says there were people in Boston laughing at us for hiring Pioli? He’s a liar. Walter Football doesn’t like Cassel? He must have a bias against the Chiefs. Profootballfocus.com ranks Tyson Jackson worst at his position? That site is lame. Jason Whitlock calls Pioli Egoli? He’s Whitless (or a slew of other stupid nicknames). The list goes on and on.
Is this who we are? Are we really this unreasonable? Man, I hope not, but the recent Teicher situation looks like more of the same. The guy dares complain about his job being made harder and is immediately cast as a villain. How would you like it if your job was to mop floors and your new boss downgraded your bucket? You’d probably complain, right? There are villains in this story, but Teicher isn’t one of them. He’s a guy trying to cover a team that, for whatever reason, likes to make things as hard as possible on the media.
I feel bad for Teicher. Newspaper reporters are becoming less relevant with each passing season, and he probably knows it. The Star may not even exist in five years. What are likely to be his last days in the sun are being made that much harder on him by Pioli and the Patriot Way. I know a lot of people don’t have much sympathy for the media, and I can understand that. They’re paid to do a job most of us would love to do for free. Meanwhile Paddy and the Brothers Thorman are ten times as prolific regardless of the access they’re given.
But there’s another side to this, people. Adam Teicher probably worked his whole life to get to where he is. He’s been covering the Chiefs for as long as I can remember and he’s never said or done anything remotely controversial until now. This guy is not trying to make a star out of himself, he’s trying to provide good coverage of a team he obviously loves. How is Teicher the bad guy here? Because he questioned being barred from his workplace? That makes no sense to me.
It appears the practice was actually a walk through, so the Chiefs were within their rights barring the media. My question, and I’ve asked it before, is how do these tactics help us win football games? Why is stonewalling the media such a huge concern? The level of paranoia being displayed by Pioli and co. reflects poorly on them. It’s like they see spies in the shadows. Maybe because Pioli used to have spies in the shadows. Regardless, Teicher is no spy. His vilification has been totally overdone. A commenter on this very site said he should “tie a cement block to his leg and jump in a river.” I was pretty grossed out by that. The next step is for Teicher to be called a witch and burned at the stake.
I think its time for us to take a look in the mirror. What kind of fans do we want to be? More than that, what kind of people do we want to be? The kind that angrily dismiss any criticism, or the kind that learn from it? I don’t want to get too deep on you here, but the Chiefs Nation collective consciousness is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. When I see people lobbing curse words and insults at a guy like Teicher, I feel like it hurts all of our credibility. I want us to be so many things: intelligent, rational, funny, insightful, respectable, delectable (what?), and reasonable. A lot of the time, we are those things. But sometimes we’re not, and I’d like to see us get past that.
The Chiefs are going to be better this year, we can all agree on that. But we should also be able to recognize that our leaders are human, and they make mistakes. They’ve made plenty so far. They’re likely to make plenty more. Instead of readying our excuses and gnashing our teeth at any dissenters, lets learn from those mistakes and hope Pioli and Haley are doing the same. I feel like most of you Addicts are already pretty good at this. My boy Merlin is a shining example, and although Paddy likes to distribute kool-aid he’s also not afraid of a little honest inquiry. Those are two of the main reasons I wanted to write for AA (the other being that they were willing to have me).
So let’s lead the way, Addicts. Let’s kick homerism to the curb. It’s been an ugly, embarrassing house guest, and its time for it to hit the road……at least until I want to make some more excuses for Dwayne Bowe.