Contributing writer Ellen Mathis recalls how she became a Kansas City Chiefs fan.
How did I become a Kansas City Chiefs fan? Well, let’s travel back in time to January 11, 1970.
My dad was an ornery child, always one to push back against authority. My grandfather was a Minnesota Vikings fan. Super Bowl IV was gearing up and my dad, going against the grain, decided he would cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs. After four quarters, the head coach Hank Stram and the Chiefs hoisted that magnificent trophy and were named Super Bowl champions. My dad was a forever fan.
Fast forward to 1990. Twenty years after that glorious victory over the Vikings, I came into the world. I can’t confirm if this is true or not, but I like to think that my first onesie was Chiefs-themed. I was raised in the tradition of Arrowhead and my allegiance to the Chiefs was never in doubt. I can recall countless school projects (usually speech related) that revolved around specific Chiefs players and their stats. In one particular speech, I recounted the stat lines of Derrick Thomas to one of my dad’s friends and he said, “She’ll make a man happy one day.” Memories.
I spent summer after summer chasing down players in River Falls, Wisconsin at Chiefs training camp. I met Derrick Thomas, Marcus Allen, Trent Green, Priest Holmes—you name them, I’ve probably stood in front of them begging for their autograph. My dad, always one to get his way, bribed me with promises of Beanie Babies if I got certain players’ autographs, and I always delivered. On one occasion, a member of our group tripped, fell, and skinned her knee. Little did we know, Eddie Kennison saw and hustled to the cafeteria. Moments later, he reappeared with an ice cream cone to cheer her up. More memories.
What I didn’t know is that over the years, the summers spent at training camp, the cold evenings in the stands, and the research into those players developed into a passion for this Chiefs team. It wasn’t just the fun atmosphere that made this team special. No, it was the memories that came out of it – time spent with my family and friends. Thinking back, so many of my favorite memories from childhood revolve around family and many of them are bathed in a red and yellow glow.
Now, as an adult, building a life with my Dallas Cowboys loving husband (puke), I cherish the times when I can call my dad and chat about the Chiefs for 45 minutes as he drives home from work. It’s something I use to connect with my brothers even though we are separated halfway across the country. In the future, it is something I’ll use to connect and make memories with my kids.
I guess what I’m saying is that my Chiefs passion is so much more than cheering for a team. It’s about memories and family, bridging the generations before and after me. It connects me to my grandfather who passed away 25 years ago, and it will connect me to my kids. So on Sundays, forever, I will put on my red and yellow, scream in the stands like a crazy person, and make memories that continue to be bathed in the glow of Arrowhead.