I’m starting this column at 1:36 a.m. CST. Not because I’ve been procrastinating, but because I’m moved by football. In my 27 years of living, few things make me feel deeper than looking out and seeing a green expanse, perfectly lined, 120 yards long by 53 1/3 yards wide.
Why? I don’t know. I will never know.
I hear NFL Films music, and I feel a stirring that reminds me it is alright to be a kid again. For three hours every autumn and winter Sunday, I can forget about another school shooting, another terrorist attack and the latest debacle on Capitol Hill. For those three beautiful hours, I can watch 53 men that I don’t know, playing in matching shirts and pants, play a game meant for little boys in front of millions.
Why are those millions fixated? I will never know. I don’t care to know.
Football is the perfect blend of humanity. It shows our physical abilities, our grace under pressure, our guts in the pursuit of glory, and the withstanding of pain. Football is not 22 men running at once for a few seconds before a rest. It is men bonded together by a singular cause, striving for a moment of achievement never promised. When those men play as individuals, they stand no chance. When they begin to play for one another, no man can stop them.
The Kansas City Chiefs long ago became my team of choice. I remember being five years old and watching as the Pittsburgh Steelers were closing them out in a 1993 Wild Card playoff game. My dad implored me to believe, even though he would later admit he believed the Chiefs were about to be extinguished. Like a lightning bolt from the heavens, Keith Cash blocked the punt of Mark Royal. I was on my dad’s shoulders, and he jumped around as we both screamed.
Why were a grown man and a five-year-old, who knew precious little about the sport, so ecstatic about a group of strangers about to win a football game? I will never know, and I don’t care to.
The following week, I watched the Chiefs conquer the Houston Oilers. It would be the last postseason win until the present day. Perhaps the fact that Kansas City is opening the season in the city of their last playoff victory is a good omen. A man can hope.
Ultimately, football is a common ground. It is a bastion of hope, despite all the years of Chiefs football that says it should not be. For once, I don’t feel bound to the franchise’s anvil-like past. I don’t worry about the years of misfortune and ineptitude. I look at a roster of men I don’t know, but whose talents I am well aware.
I have no idea how the season will play out for these strangers, but I know this; they have a chance. This group has a a chance to be special, to right so many wrongs of the past.
As I sit here now at 1:46 a.m. CST, all I can do is hope for a celebration this winter. It seems possible, and that brings me great joy.
Why? I don’t know, and I don’t care to. Go Chiefs.