In life, we are all dealt a different set of cards. Some are favorable, some leave plenty to be desired. In times like Father’s Day, we tend to reflect on those original hands and think about whether we were fortunate or if there is something missing.
For me, I am blessed to have an incredible set of parents. My father always taught the value of hard work, but also the idea that it is alright to laugh and love. Sometimes men are so busy trying to be hardened individuals, they forget to be human. He passed on many traits to me, along with one passion that trumps all; the Kansas City Chiefs.
Our story isn’t typical. My dad didn’t grow up in Kansas City, but in Oakland, N.J. It’s a beautiful town about 30 miles from New York City, filled with New York Jets and New York Giants fans. My dad, Lance, bucked the trend. The first football game he ever watched was Super Bowl IV when the Minnesota Vikings were heavy favorites over the American Football League’s Chiefs.
The Old Man wanted to support the underdog, and the underdog won. Since then, he has rooted for the Chiefs every time they take the field. When I was five years old, I took on this passion. It was 1993, the zenith of the Joe Montana era. The first game I truly remember? The Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kansas City was trailing late, 24-17, with Mark Royal back to punt. I was on my dad’s shoulders, crying, knowing the Chiefs were going to lose. He told me there was hope, but knew all was lost without the miracle of a blocked punt. Enter Keith Cash, the ensuing miracle, Montana hitting a touchdown pass on 4th and Goal, and Nick Lowery sending the Arrowhead faithful home happy.
I was hooked. I am hooked.
The following week, Cool Joe pulled down the curtain on the House of Pain, something my dad and I reveled in together. In the AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills, the dream ended. The worst part for the Verderame household? My dad couldn’t be there. He actually had to work, an incredible rarity for him on a weekend. He always remembers running out to his truck to hear the score, only to be disappointed. I still have the game on VHS. I probably watch it twice every year. It’s painful and soothing all at once.
Maybe it reminds me of a time where these guys were larger than life. When you are in kindergarten, you aren’t concerned about contract disputes and off-field arrests. Those men are wearing red and yellow with simple helmets adorned in arrowheads. They are the good guys, end of story.
In the years following, there has been disappointment and sadness, tragedy and strife. Yet, there has also been incredible moments, memories that are indelibly going to last a lifetime.
I moved to Chicago a few weeks ago, leaving New York for this job. It’s been fantastic, a dream come true. The adjustment has been seamless, something I didn’t expect. Still, it will be very difficult when Kansas City plays this autumn. We always watch the games together, something that won’t be happening anymore.
Then again, there is a comfort knowing that our bond over the Chiefs will bring us together on those Sundays, and everyday in between. When we are both tired of talking about work or weather, we can bring it back to the team. It’s the middle of June, and all we can talk about is training camp. That’s love, both for each other and a team that always shows up, rain or shine.
Please, tell us about what Father’s Day means to you.