Chiefs gameday 101: A wildly superstitious fan’s guide to rituals

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 13: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on August 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 13: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on August 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Many fans do not subscribe to superstitious actions, but many border on psychosis in their rituals. Let’s take a look inside the behaviors of a wildly superstitious Chiefs fan’s game-day preparation.

A couple of weeks ago I took you all on a Sherpa’d journey through the experience that is a Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. One of the more hallowed venues in North American sports and what many consider to be objectively the best place on Earth. Now I want to introduce you to another ritualistic practice that plagues my existence throughout the entirety of football season.

Human beings are without a doubt creatures of habit. Some of you do the same thing every single day without even realizing you’re conditioned to doing it. In fact, the foundation of how most of us feed and groom ourselves on a daily basis is formed from habits learned from a very early age. Outside of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time essentially every day and showering, brushing your teeth, doing your hair, plucking your eyebrows – whatever your morning routine consists of – we all have our habitual quirks in life.

Some take the same walk around the neighborhood every evening with their dogs or their family. Some workout every morning at the same time at the same gym. Others sit in the same chair in their house or apartment to take in some quality Netflix programming or if you’re really old school reading a book. Some meditate, some play video games, and some even blog at the same time every day.

Others take rituals way too far. I’m not talking about anything perverted or occult here, keep your eyes on the road. I’m of course talking about sports – football specifically, and the craziness that it can induce from even the most mentally capable and emotionally calm individuals. Am I mentally capable and emotionally calm? Maybe and no. Anyone who tries to tell you they’re calm probably isn’t calm in the first place, but I’m definitely not, especially when it comes to Chiefs football. But before you write this off as crazy talk, take a walk in my meticulously selected shoes for a second.

What makes a team lucky?

You’ll find football guys everywhere who will tell you that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, even Andy Reid and the coaching staff work tirelessly around the clock all year long to prepare for 17 Sundays from September to January. They grind, they sweat, they bleed, they eat Q39 in their office while watching film until the wee hours of the morning. They prepare relentlessly for not just their opponents, but for situations that each season can throw at them. And when the work pays off, and the opportunity presents itself, they tend to excel.

NFL coaches, executives, and players are some of the more driven people on Earth. But what truly sends a championship caliber team over the top from contender to champion? Does everything I mentioned above help? Well, yeah. For sure. But you know what really does it?

The anonymous actions of fans across the country on the days – specifically during the hours – that they play football games.

We’re talking every aspect of someone’s day revolving around something they can’t control in the least bit. Is it crazy? Absolutely. But isn’t that part of the beauty of sports? ESPN famously ran an ad campaign in the early 2000’s touting the tagline “It’s not crazy, it’s sports“. If you’ve rooted for a team long enough, you’ve more than likely been driven crazy by said organization, or at very least know someone who has. But you know what they say: it’s not crazy if it works.

What should I be doing to ensure maximum luck for my favorite team?

I’m glad you asked.

To truly understand, you have to wrap your head around what it means to be truly superstitious. Not just a little stitious. I’m talking super superstitious. I was around my great grandma a lot when I was a kid. She was raised in the south in the 1920’s and 30’s – the dust bowl south. The birthplace of wives tales. So to say that I’ve learned some things that I should never do, under any circumstance, would be an understatement.

I am 34 years old. I’ve never knowingly crossed the path of a black cat. I’ve never once stepped under a ladder. Never broken a mirror. I’ve never even clipped my fingernails or toenails on a Friday or a Sunday. I abstain from both because no one really ever knew which day was correct, so I’ve just been oddly terrified of both my entire life.

Once you begin to understand how my brain works, you’ll begin to understand how I operate on game-days. When at Arrowhead you park in the same spot (or at least close by, depending on availability). You drink the same beverage combo. You walk in at the same time, etc, etc, etc.

But it all really starts before hand and permeates more deeply when you’re watching from the safety and security of your own home.

What do I wear?

Everyone knows that the proper game-day prep begins with the proper game-day threads. A game-day shirt is a must. Of course it gets cooler towards the end of season, so make sure you designate a game-day hoodie for the colder months. If you’re like me, you need consistency all the way through the process. Game-day shorts (and pants, again it gets cold) come highly recommended, but are not as crucial as the shirt. If you’re living or have lived life as a balding man like I did for years, might I interest you in a game-day hat as well? For our female readers, a hat would also work – or you could even go oppo from that and rock a Chiefs headband, bow, or hair tie. Guys, help yourselves on that too – not my style, but it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

We’re not just covering our mid-drifts here, folks. This is head to toe exercise. That means you need to find and commit to a pair of game-day shoes that you feel will make 53 grown men play football to the best of their abilities. My choice? My Nike Killshots I got in…you guessed it, 2019. They work! Why would I change it up? I do in the winter months if I’m at Football Mecca on Sundays, but otherwise it’s the tennies. Find what works for you, and rock it.

The final part of the clothing portion is without question the most crucial. You’re now set on what other people can see about your wardrobe, but what about what they can’t see? This is no exaggeration – I wore the same underwear to and during every game for 3 years until they became simply tattered. Your undies matter. Your socks matter. If you’re an undershirt person, that matters. It all matters, but when you consider the proximity of undergarments to majorly important parts of your anatomy, I would argue underwear are the most crucial of game-day fan traditions.

Caveat: In any of these scenarios, if the Chiefs go on a losing streak, consider switching it up. You can always come back to it if the alternative doesn’t work. And always change your underwear in a responsible and sanitary way.

Where do I sit?

This can have numerous answers. It all depends on where you watch the game. If you’re always on the go, you may be watching from a phone, laptop, or tablet. That’s fine! For the more nomadic of us, I would advise you find a spot that you deem A) most effective to your teams success and B) most comfortable, in that order. Bonus points if you’re in an airport, bus stop, or train station and you find a fellow traveller wearing your team’s gear to enjoy the game with.

Watching from home? Here’s where the tedious superstitions come back in to play. I don’t care if you have a favorite recliner, if you watch from a specific couch, or you sit on the floor. I don’t care if you stand up. Just commit to something. I sit in the exact same spot on my couch downstairs – the comfy couch – every time I watch the Chiefs at home. Do I always watch the Chiefs at home? No. But if I’m at my in-law’s house, you better believe I’m in the same spot on their couch. If I’m at my parents house? Same. Follow the golden rule: commit, then sit.

Caveat: If the Chiefs have turnovers on multiple drives in a row, switch up the seating. There’s bad energy everywhere, do what you can to change it. Be the sage.

Do I have to eat and drink the same thing every week?

Don’t be crazy. Of course you don’t have to eat the same thing every week. Each week’s menu should be carefully and individually crafted to maximize your dietary needs for the given week and opponent.

Playing the Bills this week? Emasculate the population of Buffalo by making wings better than they could ever dream of. Eagles? Cheesesteaks on the menu that would make Geno’s mouth water. What about a team like the Ravens, a food that would be repulsive to consume? Just grill a whole chicken and tell people it’s a Raven, I promise you it works and our quarterback will maintain legal custody of theirs.

My point is that the menu can change. In all honesty, it doesn’t have to be themed every week. I would eat pizza for every meal, including game-days even when the Chiefs aren’t playing a team from a city with pizza-rich tradition. And while the food can rotate, I’d encourage you to have at least one game-day beverage that you keep coming back to. I have a general rule of thumb for my beverage consumption on Sundays in the fall, but I will not try to sway you one way or the other – you choose your own path on this one.

Caveat: If electing to consume adult beverages, do so responsibly. No one likes the drunk guy who thinks the officials can hear him through the TV. 

This sounds crazy. How do I know this will all work?

That’s the beauty of it all – you don’t.

Embrace the process. Specifically in Chiefs Kingdom, we have the privilege of watching a historically significant span of consistent high level football. Since 2013 when Andy Reid took the helm, and specifically since 2018 when Patrick Mahomes was named the starting quarterback, the Chiefs have been on a historic tear from an offensive standpoint as well as a team achievement perspective. Being the first team to host four consecutive AFC Championships is nothing to sneeze at, especially with two Super Bowl appearances and a Lombardi to show for it.

So why not try to keep pushing them to greater heights? Let’s face it, nothing we do is going to impact the way that the 53 guys on the field play. It’s just not. Sure, we can get loud at Arrowhead and get the defense hyped up, that definitely helps. For those guys, the drive comes from within. But our quirky, albeit in some instances deeply personal, rituals that we commit to on Sundays don’t really move the needle.

But when you wear that same shirt, those same shoes, sit in that same seat, around the same people, wearing the same underwear and the team does something unexpectedly spectacular, for a second it gives you some pause to wonder if the two things aren’t somehow weirdly tied together. When you really commit to it and your team finds real, consistent success, you can trick yourself into thinking that maybe, just maybe, you had something to do with it.

I know this all sounds crazy. But I promise you – it’s not crazy if it works.