Kansas City Chiefs: Reviewing ‘The Franchise’: Episode 3, ‘Clear The Way’

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20: A general view as the New England Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Jason Hanna)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20: A general view as the New England Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Jason Hanna) /

The latest episode of The Franchise offers an in-depth look at Kahlil McKenzie’s learning curve, offseason highlights and the great Mitch Holthus.

If the last two episodes of The Franchise, the new web series documenting the Kansas City Chiefs offseason, display the blueprint for what future takes will look like throughout the season, it will hold its value beyond the year covered.

While it isn’t a particularly unique formula, sandwiching a more focused look into a single player’s off-field life in between glimpses behind the curtain of the front office, coaching staff, and locker room is a solid way to make up for those glimpses being so surface level.

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Episode three of The Franchise, titled “Clear The Way”, opens on the construction and unveiling of the new Thomas Defensive Meeting Room, a tribute to both Emmitt Thomas and Derrick Thomas. Brett Veach invited Frank Clark, as a way to introduce the future to the past. If nothing else, Veach seems genuinely confident he’s constructed a defense that will make an impact in 2019. He’s especially proud of acquiring Clark, comparing using a first round pick to deal for him to when the team did the same to move up in the draft to select Patrick Mahomes.

After a brief recap of the Chiefs’ second and third round of the NFL Draft, Mecole Hardman, Juan Thornhill, and Khalen Saunders are all introduced to season ticket holders at the 2019 Arrowhead Stadium Draft Fest. It’s a brief moment for the three rookies, and they all seem expectedly nervous to be holding microphones in front of a small sea of Chiefs fans. But they all say the right things—the prerequisite football cliches about getting to work and bringing home a Super Bowl—so they’re naturally welcomed to the fold with open arms.

The main focus of the episode turns to Kahlil McKenzie, and like two weeks ago with Derrick Nnadi, the show does a good job of highlighting a player’s personality. McKenzie has been spending the offseason working on his transition from the defensive line to the offensive line, receiving one-on-one coaching from Chiefs great Will Shields (who, in true retired-lineman fashion, looks to be about half the size he was in his playing days).

Offensive line remains football’s most interesting facet that receives such little attention. Some of the most impactful minute details within a successful play can be found in the littlest, twitchiest movements along the line. O-line play is a deeply nuanced game within the game that is a mystery to most football fans. It’s not a sexy position, but it’s an infinitely complex and demanding one. That’s apparent in even the brief moment the episode spends with Shields mentoring McKenzie.

As the show ventures inside McKenzie’s home, he leads them to his “man cave” filled with, perhaps unexpectedly, anime posters. He explains anime is his biggest passion outside of football, as he’s drawn to the wide diversity of genre and characters.

If you pay attention to young athletes on social media, this passion is not uncommon. The generation that grew up with heavily internet-driven interests are now entering their twenties, and a growing number of pros in all sports are more likely to be found spending their evenings and off days binge-watching television or playing video games. I can’t imagine front offices are anything other than eager to support a new generation of homebody athletes.

After a recap of the one-day contracts K.C. gave Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Johnson, and Jamaal Charles to allow them to retire as Chiefs, the episode ends on the radio voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus speaking about what drives his passion more than two decades into calling games for the team.

Outside of the intense passion in his play-by-play style, Holthus’ biggest strength has always been his ability to be simultaneously verbose and folksy (at one point describing the Chiefs’ worst-to-first progression during Andy Reid‘s tenure as the team going from “phytoplankton to a challenger to win the whole enchilada”).

In another universe, Holthus is a pro wrestling manager rivaling Bobby Heenan, Jim Cornette, or Paul Heyman. He knows how to tell engaging stories with color, and you can feel he’s just as bubbling with excitement as the rest of Chiefs fans. He feels how close the team is to a Super Bowl just as much as everyone else.

I’m sure once the Chiefs do hoist the Lombardi he’ll have a fire-fueled emotional monologue of bombastic, grandiose, pretentiously Shakespearean proportions, and I absolutely can’t wait to hear it.

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The Franchise airs Wednesdays @ 6PM CT on FOX Sports Midwest and FOX Sports Kansas City, as well as streaming on Facebook Watch and YouTube. You can also see it at the Chiefs official site.