January 9th, 2016; the Kansas City Chiefs return to the scene of the crime.
It was January 16th, 1994 the last time the Chiefs walked off the field as winners of a playoff game. The final score was 28-20. Montana over Moon.
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The NFL is a complicated place. Teams move and change, not often, but often enough to really twist your brain into a pretzel if you really sit down and try to recall which teams came from where. For instance, the Rams were in L.A. but then St. Louis but no want to go back to L.A.. The Raiders were in Oakland but then in L.A. but then back in Oakland and now want to go back to L.A., too. The Ravens are actually the Browns and the Colts are actually Baltimore and the team in Cleveland is a bastardization of everything that is good in the world and right about sports.
If you weren’t already confused enough, today, the Chiefs who used to be the Texans but from Dallas, will travel to Houston, the city in which it won its last playoff game, however the team the Chiefs beat in that playoff game is actually in in Tennessee and is now called the Titans and the team they will be playing today is an expansion team that didn’t exist the last time KC won a playoff game but had existed back in the 60’s and that team was the Chiefs.*
*Special shoutout to my editor Natasha, lover of intentionally ridiculous run-on sentences.
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I’d like to apologize in advance.
My future brother-in-law is coming over today to watch the Chiefs, Texans game with me. His name is Robert and he’s from Houston. He’ll be rooting for the enemy.
The last time the Chiefs played in a playoff game, I was in Chicago for my father-in-law’s retirement party. At the time, my wife and I lived in NYC but having grown up in Chicago, she was able to steer me to a bar that was nearby the site of the retirement dinner. The plan was to watch the game and the head immediately over to the dinner, just a few blocks away. We plopped down at an empty table in the back room of the mostly empty bar before being joined by my sister-in-law and her relatively new boyfriend, Robert.
The four of us were pretty much the only people in the bar, save a table of three guys sitting just behind us. These dude’s has no rooting interest in the game but engaged our party in some friendly chatter. They’d seen I was wearing a Chiefs jersey and at halftime, congratulated me on what appeared to be a sure victory. Being a shellshocked Chiefs fan, I explained to them that I was leery of that kind of talk. I told all who would listen of KC’s long stretch of playoff misery. I declared that nobody should count even a single chicken until the clock struck zero, the team had showered and the plane touched down safely back in Kansas City.
You know the rest, of course. I won’t soon forget the looks on the faces of the three guys sitting behind us in the bar as we past them and trudged into the bleak Chicago winter. It was a mix of pity and something that may well have been fear. After all, perhaps whatever I had was contagious and could be spread to their sports teams.
That Chiefs, Colts playoff game was the first full football game I had ever watched with Robert. In all, I’ve watched three games with the guy.
The second was an overtime game between my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes and a bad Penn State team. The Buckeyes were far and away the more talented team and while they did beat State and go on to win the National Championship, they damn near lost that game that had no business even being close. It was at that time I began to become suspicious of Robert. He seemed to be bad luck for my sports teams.
The last game I watched with Robert was this year’s Ohio State, Michigan State game. The Buckeyes lost on a last-second FG after failing to muster any kind of offense. With that loss, Ohio State’s National Title hopes were extinguished.
So when Robert texted me some smack talk yesterday and asked if we should watch today’s playoff game together, I don’t know why I said yes. I’m a fool. I’ve let down my Chiefs family for my soon-to-be family. I’m a coward. I’m sorry. If it all goes wrong today, I’ll gladly accept the tar and feathers. We can do it in the Power and Light district. I think I’d like that.
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I won’t bore you with the long list of consecutive playoff losses the Chiefs have turned in since taking down Warren Moon. You’ve likely been forced to relive each agonizing loss all week long in just about every Chiefs-related column you’ve read. That is the way things are now. Until the Chiefs finally slay their playoff dragon, the narrative will not change. You know how the media loves a narrative. Hell, we’re still hearing about the whole “no WR TD” fiasco on broadcasts.
I will say that today is a tremendous opportunity for all of us. You, me and the Chiefs.
KC is in Houston, the scene of its last playoff win, to take on the Texans, the team it used to be. It is a little like the Chiefs are traveling back in time to defeat their past selves. It is time to make the Oilers and Montana just a footnote in Chiefs history. That 1994 Chiefs team still holds the glory. Alex Smith and Andy Reid take it away from them. To defeat the Texans, the Chiefs must defeat themselves.
As for me, I’m not going to let my future brother-in-law and his bad juju ruin my day. I will not sit in my own living room fearful, a prisoner of playoff ghosts.* I will watch this game with confidence and swagger**, which are the two qualities the Chiefs will need if they are to emerge the day victorious.
*This statement is not true.
**This is also a lie. I will, in fact, be a complete mess.
I am going to eat wings, drink Boulevard and watch the Kansas City Chiefs win their first playoff game since 1994. It’s going to be awesome.
Chiefs 17, Texans 13