Conference championship weekend.
That doesn’t get me fired up the way it used to. Although I came back to the NFL a little this season, I would still label myself as a casual fan at best. A far cry from when I was a kid and I was super into everything about the NFL. I watched The NFL Today each Sunday, made sure I caught the halftime highlights on Monday Night Football, and could likely tell you several important facts about the third place team in each division.
Back in those days I was a hardcore Cowboys fan. That all stemmed from the first Super Bowl I ever watched in January 1977. I thought it was cool that the two teams playing, Dallas and Denver, both started with a D. The Cowboys won, I adopted them as my favorite team. I lived in southeast Missouri, the nearest team, the St. Louis Cardinals, were kind of garbage. It seemed like a good move.
When we moved to Kansas City in the summer of 1980, the Cowboys were beginning a run of losing in the NFC title game three-straight years. At my new bus stop, in the classroom, on the playground at recess, and at my own football practices, the primary topic of discussion was the Royals, who made it to the World Series that year. But when football would come up, I was usually the outcast. There were a few Steelers fans, a few random Raiders or Broncos fans, and a sprinkling of Cowboys fans. But most of the boys I hung out were Chiefs fans.
I remember a conversation that fall that went something like this:
“Why don’t you like the Chiefs?”
“Because I like the Cowboys.”
“Well, you live here now, you have to like the Chiefs.”
“That’s stupid. And so are you.”
I didn’t learn to cuss until later that year, otherwise I would have told the kid to fuck off.
Don’t get me wrong, over the next decade or so when the Chiefs had the occasional solid year, I would cheer for them. I went to a few games here and there and pulled for them to win. In the early 90s, when they became a very good team, I pulled hard for them…as long as they weren’t playing the Cowboys. They were a pretty solid second team, and it was cool that the local team was doing well.
But as the 90s progressed, the Chiefs started to drive me nuts. I hated how the Chiefs were the primary topic of KC sports discussion so much of the year. I hated the almost Stalinist party line that the entire Chiefs organization stuck to in the Carl Peterson era. And that guy, he drove me freaking nuts with his press conferences where he would say “The Kansas City Chiefs Football Team” 1000 times while insisting everything at 1 Arrowhead Way was better than any other place in the NFL.
And then there were Chiefs fans. Not all of them, for sure. In fact, not even a very large percentage of them. But there was that vocal, idiot minority who just drove me nuts. The ones who yelled “Chiefs!” at the end of the national anthem at KU, Royals, or other games. The ones who had entire wardrobes that were nothing but Zubaz pants in Chiefs colors. I remember coworkers going on-and-on about how Steve Bono or Elvis Grbac were going to lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. I decided those “Camaroheads” were the typical Chiefs fan, and began openly rooting against them. I laughed when the Chiefs blew playoff appearance after playoff appearance. Greg Hill raising the roof when he got a first down while precious time ticked away in another home playoff loss was my favorite Chiefs moment ever. That the Cowboys dynasty was crumbling didn’t matter to me. I was more interested in watching Chiefs fans be sad.
I think it is very hard to live in an NFL city, be a fan of another team, and not end up hating the local team. Especially these days, where NFL games are 3+ hour exercises in avoiding drunk people, fights, and other nonsense. It’s easy to look at whatever stupidity is going on at your local stadium, think that is unique to your city, and then use it as a reason to hate the local squad.
When we moved to Indy, I was still a Cowboys fan. But I was growing sick of Jerry Jones’ bullshit. The Colts were getting good. It seemed like the perfect time to jump ship. My first year here, the Colts went to Kansas City for a playoff game. I wish I still had one of my favorite voice mails of all time, left on the answering machine attached to our land line – !!!! – during that epic, no-punt game.
“D, it’s Julie! Are you watching the game? Because the Colts are wiiiiiiinning!”
(Voice in background: ‘He doesn’t like the Chiefs!’)
“Oh, Mark says you don’t like the Chiefs…so never mind. Go Colts!”
So, for the couple of readers who told me they didn’t realize I wasn’t a Chiefs fan a week ago, that’s most of the story of how that came to be.
Speaking of bullshit, I’m pretty sick of New England’s bullshit. When their dynasty was first getting started, I really admired them. Tom Brady still seemed like a delightful fluke. They rarely had superstars around him on offense, and Belichick built a classic No Name defense that was always better than everyone else in January.
But they kept winning, got obnoxious, cheated several times, and became a joyless, soulless machine that just grinds all the fun out of the game. Tom Brady whining about how everyone thinks they suck and no one thinks they can win is classic, Patriots horseshit. Jon Bon Jovi and Robert Kraft sitting together and singing “Livin’ On A Prayer,” might be the worst moment of the 21st Century.
So am I pulling for the Chiefs Sunday? Let’s not go too far, now. I would rather see the Chiefs win. But I will still laugh if all the Camaroheads go home sad because Belichick and Brady’s deal with the devil remains valid and they somehow get out of KC with a win.
Chiefs 45, Patriots 21. Yes, 21. Fuck you, Brady.
Saints 38, Rams 35