Not Ready For Prime Time


Note: This post was written immediately following the Chiefs’ 34-3 dismantling by the Patriots on Monday Night Football. But let’s be honest, it could have been written hours earlier.

So, for starters, let’s look at some positives, or at least some not-totally-negatives-in-the-context-of-the-really-big-picture: Last night was not the Chiefs’ worst performance in the history of Monday Night Football. That, of course, was the infamous Monday Night Meltdown at Arrowhead Stadium in 1998, when the Chiefs lost it (the game and their composure) against the Denver Broncos and got flagged for a record 14 personal fouls (or at least that’s how I remember it).

And watching Tyler Palko—besides bringing back stirring memories of the preseason—was not the worst experience I’ve had watching a Chiefs quarterback. That, of course, came during my first-ever game at Arrowhead in the early ‘80s, at which I had the chance to witness Todd Blackledge throw a record 14 interceptions (or at least that’s how I remember it).*

*Yes, I’ve referenced this a time or two before here. I should ask my dad if he can remember the exact date of that game so I can track down the stats; it may indeed have been 14 interceptions.

But—despite the fact that Steve Young would later refer to them as “the Washington Generals”*—the Chiefs did not completely embarrass themselves last night. Before you object, please note my use of the modifier “completely” (come on, I even italicized it). For 20-some minutes, the defense made us proud, and the offense was at least putting itself in a position to make costly mistakes.

*At first, I thought he had said “Washington Sentinels,” making the kind of Palko/Falco reference that only the most brilliant commentators can come up with. But, no, it was just some lame Tom-Brady-and-the-Patriots-are-the-Harlem-Globetrotters joke.

Look, it’s hard to say that the Chiefs, despite allowing more than twice the two- touchdown spread, really failed to meet expectations. There wasn’t a single person, on this staff or on this planet, who thought K.C. had a fighting chance.*

*Or even much of a chance of fighting, like in ’98.

I think all involved would have preferred not to have had this play out in prime time, starting with ESPN, which tried to pretend like it hadn’t actually scheduled this game for a Monday night. The disrespect started early in the week, with the promos. The 30-second MNF teaser was entirely about the New England Patriots; the Chiefs merited all of five words, at the very end: “…against the Kansas City Chiefs.”* It was as if they didn’t expect the Chiefs to show up. Literally. The ESPN video-montage intro to the game showed no images of the Chiefs and made no mention of them, again, until the very end: “The Kansas City Chiefs are in town.”**

*Really, that’s only three words about the Chiefs.

**Notice that even this does not necessarily imply that the Chiefs will be at the game.

But by the fourth quarter, the ESPN talking heads were at least talking about the Chiefs, if only with sympathy.

“This was not the plan at the beginning of the season,” Mike Tirico said, before recounting the Chiefs starters with season-ending injuries, accompanied by explicit video of each (here the Chiefs finally got some stock-footage screen time).

“Yeah,” said Gruden, “you come into Foxborough and try to get it done against these Patriots.” It’s unclear whether he was speaking to Tirico or to me.

Later, Tirico did speak directly to me (and those geographically like me), imploring us to literally look away, suggesting that “those of you watching in the state of Kansas” might prefer to switch to ESPN2 for the start of the KU-Georgetown game in the Maui Invitational. “You’ll be able to watch Kansas basketball,” he said, helpfully offering a way to pass more than just the next two hours.

Of course, it is tempting to look away, especially with what’s coming, from the Palko-Hanie Bowl in Chicago, then on to New York (where the Jets aren’t looking quite as scary), and back home to play Green Bay (who they will beat). Those games will take place in the relative obscurity of the afternoon schedule.

Ah, but it will only be too easy to watch the Chiefs again next week—that’s right, in prime time, against the Steelers Sunday night at Arrowhead.

One more chance to shine.