The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL’s next great heel
By Jacob Harris
The Kansas City Chiefs have the talent to become so good that they’ll be unbearable to everyone else in the National Football League.
The Kansas City Chiefs are currently the toast of the NFL.
Patrick Mahomes—the human fireworks show and amateur Danny McBride impersonator (I find this comparison way more accurate than the Kermit one, and I will fight you over it)—no doubt has the league salivating over the prospect of being able to book him often in primetime over the next 15 years. He’s turned the Chiefs into a bonafide national draw, something they’ve never been.
But while the wave of popularity has been swift, over-saturation is inevitable. Which means only one thing: the Chiefs will be turning heel before long.
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For decades the Chiefs have been the NFL model of a scrappy pro wrestling babyface. Perpetual underdogs never truly feared by their competition, and never really taken seriously by anyone else. When they were good it was cute, as their lack of any real threat against the best of the league made them easy to like. That’s all in the midst of changing. This change’s seeds were planted the moment Mahomes was drafted, and its first sprouts grew in Mile High on Monday night.
The national media loves this team. Actually, that’s too weak; they adore the Chiefs. And so does most everyone else right now—this team is fun. But that’s step one on the path to the heel turn. Eventually, people aren’t going to be tuning in to watch the Chiefs win. They’ll be tuning in to see if they can be conquered.
Now, of course, you’re saying, “That’s assuming the Chiefs are going to win.”
That’s because they are going to win. And the first time they win they’ll be loved for it. But then they’ll keep winning. Then they’ll win some more. Then they’ll win even more still. Titles on top of titles, records on top of records. And in true heel fashion, even when they lose they’re going to win, because they’ll probably be losing on primetime television in spectacular fashion and the national media narrative still won’t pivot away from Mahomes.
This angle, in turn, will cause the resentment to fester and grow, as the adorably hapless Chiefs morph into a unavoidable juggernaut on and off the field. The K.C. fan base, long appreciated for being so loyal to a team so cursed will become among the most hated in the league—the pride in decibels shifting from a fair consolation prize for fans to the obnoxious bloviation of those who already have it all.
The Chiefs are in the perfect position to be the NFL’s next great villain.
The Chiefs are in the perfect position to be the NFL’s next great villain. The Patriots’ legendary near 20 year run as perhaps the greatest heel in sports history is soon coming to a close. Aaron Rodgers is transcendent and the Packers have a devoted fanbase similar to KC, but Green Bay’s unwillingness to surround Rodgers with talent makes him a martyr. And while the Rams have the talent, they’re in Los Angeles and will always be a mid-tier attraction at best to that city. The Chiefs have all the talent, they have a fanbase that could easily become insufferable with success, and they’re based in a city no one outside of its limits is particularly interested in visiting. It’s a ready-made recipe for a team everyone loves to hate.
So if nothing else, I write all this to say one thing, specifically to the Chiefs organization; when it happens, embrace it. When the long-overdue chance to become the most hated team in the NFL arrives, play to it. Like Ric Flair in the 80s, never hesitate to remind the world just how great you are. Rub it in. Style, profile.
This organization has spent spent nearly sixty years trying to be the good guy. Six decades as the crewcut of pro football. Thinking about it makes me nauseous. For over half a century this team’s personality has fluctuated somewhere between dry white toast and room-temperature cottage cheese. I’m ready for this team to be a plate of fugu—expensive, delicious, and also it could kill you.
I’m ready for this team to be so good it’s unbearable to everyone else.
I’m ready to be the heel.