Yea, we’ve heard it all a thousand time: these preseason games are meaningless in the win and loss column and when the seasons starts everyone is 0 and 0.
Well, besides the meaning of these games to the players who are playing — these games DO have some meaning to the fans.
First of all — it means FOOTBALL IS BACK!
We who deify the red and gold can’t wait to see the colors flowing at Arrowhead and the bodies crashing and the season getting underway. On Friday evening, I went from cheering to screaming to laughing and then I couldn’t stop laughing. The Chiefs were that good and that dominant. Yes, football is back — with a happy vengeance.
Secondly — fans want to see if there’s even one drive in the game that can confirm their offseason predilections — in the Chiefs’ case — that they look like a contender. Plenty enough times, Chiefs fans have had the experience following a preseason game — the experience that includes the self-speak — “We coulda been a contenda.” There was none of that on Friday, that’s for darn sure. Can you name the last time the Chiefs began a game with two touchdowns on their opening drives and two stops on their opening defensive sets? A beginning like that can set a tone for the rest of the season… and beyond.
Thirds-ly — some individual player always has “something to prove.” Either a player was drafted too low — or they were injured the previous season — or they were suspended — or — their loved one died recently or a family member was incarcerated and they’re dedicating the game to them — or — or — or. And so, it’s great to see who might have a chip on their shoulder and they’re willing to take it off (the chip) and hit someone with it. TE Steve Maneri seemed to catch the ball — and a spot on the Chiefs roster on Friday evening.
Fourth-in-ski — as much as the new-crackers-and-sound-bite-blasters like ESPN, CBS Sports and PFT — SAY that these games are meaningless — how many times have you heard them confirm their offseason predictions after the first preseason game? That would be every single time! Followed by the phrase, “But it is only preseason.” Then they do it again after preseason game two. And then… you get the idea. I checked in on the sports biggies on Friday evening after the Chiefs victory and found … next to nothing about the Chiefs. Fine — ignore the Chiefs. See where that gets you.
Taking the Fifth — it also means it’s a great chance to look at the rest of the best in the west, of the AFC that is. On Thursday night Peyton Manning went 4-7 and drove his team down the field and into the red zone on his first drive in Broncos cleats. Pundits re-ran some of his plays over and over again to see if he looked like the “Manning of old.” I just thought he looked like a “Manning who’s old.” There was a particular play in which Manning is standing near the opposite hash mark and throws the ball all the way across the field. The announcers were impressed that he got the ball there and it looked sharp. I thought it took forever for the ball to arrive and then I began looking forward to some Chiefs picks when they play the Donkeys. Physically, Peyton Manning looks shrimp-ish. He looks like he’s lost body mass.
In the Chargers’ first game — I don’t like cheering against teams just because someone got hurt, as RB Ryan Mathews did — so I won’t comment on that. However, when the Chargers fumbled in the first quarter, you could get a sense that everyone on their sideline collectively, and in unison — went — uh oh, here we go again. That’s what I think the Chargers will have to overcome more than anything this season — every time someone makes a mistake — overcoming a bad case of the, uh-oh-here-we-go-agains.
The Sixth Sensibility — I think you have to have been in Arrowhead at least once in your lifetime to understand what I’m about to say next. These preseason games are meaningful because the fans present at the game can get a feeling for whether or not the current edition of the Chiefs is going to be able to raise the spirit of players past. Players like DT and Neil who spent more time in the offensive backfield than the opposition did. Players like Joe Delaney who thrilled us like no other back in a Chiefs uniform. Players like Willie, Buck, Bobby and the boys — who nailed down the Viking offense to bring the Chiefs their first Super Bowl trophy. Players like Gary Spani who was a tackling clinic setting a then Chiefs record of 157 tackles in a single-season in 1979, a record that stood for 23 seasons. Players like Gary Barbaro, Christian Okoye, Curley Culp, Tony Richardson, Mike Garrett, Art Still, James Hasty, Ed Podolak, Priest Holmes and the greatest Chief of all time, Lenny Dawson. These players always brought it — everything — all the time. That is the indelible Chiefs spirit. And fans want to know if it’s there — in the very first preseason game. Fans want to know if that indelible spirit still lives on. A preseason game can tell you that. Well, the Chiefs have risen from the ashes to thrill the masses of Chiefs faithful and it was a thing of beauty … at least the first quarter was. Many other players shined as well. Cameron Sheffield looked terrific and so did Devon Wylie.
Now… for the Seventh wonder-ful meaning in these highly meaningless games: tailgating. I don’t know if Kansas City Chiefs officials — or NFL officials for that matter — “get” what it means when fans spend more time in the parking lots barbequing before games than in the stadium during games. Football without tailgating is like the Grand Canyon without colors, the Ludwig von Beethoven Symphony #7 without instruments, the President of the United States without a good health care reform policy (oh, wait a second, we do know what that’s like, never mind).
You see, the game of football without tailgating is like … the game of football without tailgating. I know, I just used an example of what it would be like with an example that was exactly like what I was describing but, it seems to be the only clear way to communicate exactly how that feels.
What I’m trying to say here is, football also brings meaning to our lives because it gives us a reason to party — er — I mean tailgate!
P.S. My prediction for the game? Chiefs 24 and the Cards 10. Close enough — that the horseshoes and the hand grenades scored. Now, that’s meaningful!