Growing up in New York, I was always an oddball. Instead of rooting for the New York Giants or New York Jets, I followed the lead of my dad (who grew up in New Jersey) and became a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Little did I know the pain that was coming when I made that decision in 1993.
These days, I bleed red and yellow only, but as a kid, I had split allegiances. The first NFL game that I ever watched featured the Los Angeles Rams upsetting the Dallas Cowboys. Immediately, I loved the Rams’ colors and helmets, and so I adopted them on my own. Up until I was in my teenage years, I was a fervent supporter of the Rams and Chiefs.
In 1999, the Rams – now in St. Louis – were expected to make a run at the playoffs after being awful throughout the 1990s. The team had traded for Marshall Faulk, signed Trent Green and drafted Torry Holt to pair with Isaac Bruce. The coaching staff was already solid, with Dick Vermeil leading the way. Then, Green tore his ACL in the preseason, opening the door for an unknown in Kurt Warner. Of course, Warner would go on to author one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, throwing for 41 touchdowns in an era where few tossed 30.
Everyone remembers that team as a juggernaut, and it was. But early on, nobody believed the Rams were a true contender. They needed to exorcise some demons, especially against the San Francisco 49ers. Back then, the 49ers to the Rams were the Denver Broncos to the Chiefs now. They were always an afterthought because of the other team’s dominance.
Well, St. Louis got its shot in Week 5 on national television, and it annihilated San Francisco, 42-20. It was a turning point, when the Rams themselves actually believed they could be champions. The team went on to a 13-3 record, beat the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs, and then won a spellbinding Super Bowl over the Tennessee Titans.
The point is this: St. Louis was a joke of a franchise that had been dormant for years before finally rising up. Kansas City should take a lesson from its interstate rival and realize that to become something great, it needs to find fortitude. It needs to create its own turning point. Hell, look across the parking lot and see what the Royals are doing in the MLB playoffs.
The Chiefs have always come up small throughout my lifetime and likely most of yours in big moments. If this team ever wants to shed the label of losers, it needs to find a way to break through the glass ceiling. Over 15 years ago, the Rams – who were an atrocious franchise – finally decided they had enough. They pummeled the 49ers and never looked back.
It may be too late for the Chiefs this season. They may have had their opportunity in Week 2 and once again, watched it slip through their collective fingers. Yet, some time down the road, this group will face another turning point.
If anything is ever going to change, it must seize the day.