Why Chiefs-Chargers Is Personal To Me

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Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) scores a touchdown against San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32) during the first half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This Sunday the Chiefs fly out to San Diego to face our divisional opponents for the first game in the series this year. There are enough statistical reasons why the Chiefs need this win, and by now you know the narrative; I’m not going to remind you all about the implications this game has on the Chiefs season at large.

Instead, I’m going to explain why this game is personal to me.

It may surprise some of  you to learn that I didn’t see my first Chiefs game until 2010, when I was a sophomore in high school. (for some of you, this will explain my blind faith and optimism)

Now let’s provide some context; my father served in the US Army for 25 years, so of course growing up I was moved around a lot. My dad was born and raised in the KC area, and has been a lifelong Chiefs fan. This never really translated to me because, to be frank, we didn’t spend a lot of time together. Growing up, I’d never lived anywhere near Kansas City. I’d been all over the United States: Arizona, California, Florida, Tennessee. I even spent 6 years in Europe, in both Germany and Italy. The point is, since this was before Satellite TV was readily available and NFL Sunday Ticket made lives a lot easier, I had never really lived anywhere that Chiefs games were shown frequently on television.

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Compounding this was the fact that deployments often meant my father was downrange during the regular season. My mother is not a sports fan. I can’t recall football ever being on television in my house growing up. So I grew up completely absent from Chiefs Kingdom. I didn’t get to watch the Chiefs of my youth play. I never got to see Priest Holmes, Trent Green, and the high powered offense of the early 2000’s. I also didn’t suffer through the quarterback and coach instability of the late 2000’s. All I know of these eras and the teams before them are what I’ve read and seen on the internet.

So what does this have to do with San Diego?

Simple. I would have never watched a Chiefs game were it not for a Chargers fan in my Algebra II class sophomore year.

In 2009 I moved back to the good ol’ USA from Italy. Now in Arizona, I went through Freshman year of high school wholly uninterested in football. All that changed in 2010. DirecTv had given my family free NFL Sunday Ticket as an installation bonus; I ignored this on opening Sunday, still indifferent on football. Of course, the following Monday, several of my classmates were loudly talking about the season and their excitement. One classmate in particular was being awfully loud, boasting about how his team was going to win big on Monday Night Football. One of his pals asked him who his team was playing.

“The Chiefs,” He said.

Now, I was aware at the time that the 2009 Chiefs had gone 4-12. I forget under what circumstance I came about this knowledge, but I was aware that the Chiefs had been pretty bad the year before. Still, I felt compelled, after years of listening to my dad tell other people he was a Chiefs fan, to speak up and defend the “family team”.

I turned to my classmate and I told him defiantly that he was wrong. “The Chiefs were going to win.” I was so confident. I was also talking out of my ass. The conversation quickly turned to debate, him arguing how bad the Chiefs had been in recent years, me offering nothing in response but the same “Chiefs will win” retort. Of course, now I was in the thick of it.

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I went home that night and quickly realized that I should probably watch the game, since it would benefit me to have any knowledge whatsoever of what happened during the game for school the next day. My dad was deployed at the time, so the living room television was occupied by my mom and sister and whatever reality television competition they were watching at the time. I went to my room and waited for the game to start, expecting to watch about a half before losing interest.

Before kick-off, I remember thinking the atmosphere at the newly remodeled Arrowhead seemed magical. Turns out, it was. The Chargers took the lead early, but the Chiefs quickly struck back, and by the time Dexter McCluster returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, I knew I was hooked. I was going to be a Chiefs fan forever.