Kansas City Chiefs Smackdown!


Three background items are needed to understand this week’s post:

First, the concept of archetypes, made famous by psychologist Carl Jung. Archetypes are timeless personas such as the “wise old man,” the “great mother” or the “hero,” each woven into your psychic DNA, no matter where or when you lived.

Second, the concept of dopplegangers which are look-alikes, twins separated at birth. You know, like Al Davis was the doppleganger of Austin Powers’ Goldmember, or Tim Tebow is the doppleganger of a young and fit Barney Rubble.

Third, a bit of personal history. Like many of you growing up in the 70s in KC, I watched Channel 41 every Sunday morning for All-Star Wrestling and later, the National Wrestling Alliance. I was a wrestling addict, even once attending a live wrestling event at the old Memorial Hall (wow, what a classically stoic name, compared to the Qualcomm, Invesco, Gillette, Low-Sodium All-Bran Raisinette Wheaties stadiums of today).

What if we merged these concepts to make archetypal dopplegangers for the Chiefs based on the wrestlers of yesteryear? Stay with me here, Addicts.

Here’s my take on three football archetypes. For each one, I’ll list an old school wrester that defines the archetype, and an old Chief and current Chief that best serve as dopplegangers for that archetype. In addition, each current Chief will be awarded a wrestling nickname that best captures his personality and archetype. Here we go.

Archetype #1: “Provers”

“Provers” are newbies with great potential. My Prover in the wrestling days of yore was Bruiser Brody. I remember when he burst onto the scene – brash, big and powerful. He was crazy in the flying-spittle, sideways glare sort of way. Provers are named that way because they have to prove their worth over time. Some do; most do not. Bruiser Brody did. A painful choice for Bruiser Brody’s archetypal doppleganger on the Chiefs of my childhood is one who did not: Todd Blackledge. I know bringing up Blackledge is like getting a Bruiser Bob Sweetan pile-driver into the cement floor (there must have been a lot of bruisin’ going on in KC back then), but sometimes the truth hurts. Let’s just say Bruiser Brody was a bit more successful than Blackledge. But good news: I think today’s Chief Prover will prove to be legit: Justin Houston. Houston’s going to turn that late-season sizzle into Brody-like prowess. As this year’s Prover, I now dub thee “Headliner Houston,” for the news you will make next year.

Archetype #2: “Legos”

“Lego” is a term borrowed from Darryl Morey, the GM of the Houston Rockets. In a great article by Michael Lewis (Moneyball) about two years ago, Morey calls Shane Battier “Lego” – when he’s on the floor, he makes all the other pieces fit together [if you haven’t read it, this is a must-read for Addicts. It has great insight into measuring the right things in sports – more on this next week]. Back in the day, my wrestler Lego was, without a doubt, Rick Flair. Although I hated him more than I liked him, he made everyone better. Everyone knows Flair as a solo champion, but throughout his career, he was also at be the center of championship tag team duos and evil cabals, well into his 80’s or however the hell old he is today. Flair’s historic Chiefs doppleganger was MacArthur Lane. Lane primarily blocked for Ted McKnight and made everyone else look good, toiling without much praise. This current Chiefs team has a host of Legos. My runner up in this category, and I know this will be controversial, is Tyson Jackson. This year, he held down containment, standing up opposing lineman, allowing our killer linebackers to make plays. We can argue all day about Tyson, and we will probably argue about my winner of the Lego award as well: John McGraw. It was clear when he was injured that McGraw is one of the real pieces of glue for our secondary. Like Flair, he has a deep understanding of the game. For that, John McGraw, you are now known as Jigsaw McGraw. Jigsaws aren’t the fastest saws and they certainly aren’t the most powerful. But they are precise, and are used to make each piece of wood fit together into seamless joints.  Can someone give me a “Woooooooh!!!”

Archetype #3: “Warriors”

Warriers are the beasts, the ones who are in their primes. They will beat you down, over and over again. In my childhood, the wrestling Warrior was undoubtedly Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, a former Chief as well. On the Chiefs’ old teams, my Warrior was Willie Lanier. Opponents feared the smackdown from #63. Fortunately again, we have a lot of good candidates for current day Chiefs Warriors: Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Tamba. In a close race though, I’m going with Tamba. He is relentless. He uses martial arts on 350-pound offensive linemen. Now I know Tamba has trained in Tae Kwon Do, but in the classic martial arts dichotomy of “tiger” style and “dragon” style, Tamba seems to be of the tiger family – offensive, aggressive, attacking, versus the defensive, counter-attacking style of the dragon. But “Tamba the Tiger” sounds more like a Disney character than a fear-inducing moniker. So I’m going with “The Shaolin Snake.” Tamba strikes like a deadly viper – lightning fast, agile and lethal, like the snake form of Kung Fu. Can you imagine facing him on the line, coiled, patient and instinctive, and then bam, you’re done. Tamba “The Shaolin Snake” Hali. Now that would make Ernie “The Cat” Ladd proud!

To summarize, Addicts:

ArchetypeWrestler of OldChiefs of OldCurrent Chief
ProverBruiser BrodyTodd BlackledgeHeadliner Houston
LegoRick FlairMacArthur LaneJigsaw McGraw
WarriorErnie “The Cat” LaddWillie LanierThe Shaolin Snake

Addicts, who would you say are the wrestlers, old Chiefs and current Chiefs that fit the archetypes? Let’s hear it!