The Kansas City Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl after 50 years. Everybody around thought that was great, except for a young lady who waited on me at a convenience store Sunday morning.
There I was in Chiefs cap and sweatshirt, and she took that as a cue to tell me she hated the Chiefs and that they sucked.
“Well, they haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 50 years, so how is that great?” she reasoned.
I left the conversation at that point, quickly realizing that with that statement nothing I could have said would have made sense to her.
But this is a big deal for a lot of people, including myself. I was 15 years old the last time the Chiefs played in the Super Bowl. I was a high school sophomore who at the time was a rabid Dallas Cowboys fan. My mom and I took a bus trip to the old Municipal Stadium to see the Cowboys play the Chiefs a few years before. We sat with the Dallas fans.
When the Dallas Cowboys fired Tom Landry, their longtime coach, disrespectfully I thought, I ceased being a Cowboys fan. The star on their helmet no longer shined as bright for me.
However, I became a Chiefs fan way before then. They were our hometown team with accessible stars.
The Cowboys broke my heart many times too. They couldn’t make the big game either.
The Chiefs broke my heart many times. I cheered for them, but in the back of my mind I knew that they would do something to lose the big games.
I remember one year when they were wining with Rich Gannon at quarterback after starter Elvis Grbac got hurt. When Grbac got well, he replaced Gannon and the team did horribly afterward. Everyone could see Gannon was the better quarterback.
Another year, kicker Lin Elliot missed umpteen field goals to lose the big game. There was a time we could not get a first down.
But every year, I, like many others, came back with renewed hope. We had hope during the Marty Schottenheimer years when the Chiefs tried to win with a big back rushing attack and defense.
During the Dick Vermeil years, we had a high-powered offense but no defense. For years it was either offense or defense, never both strong at the same time since the 1960s.
We even brought in Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Marcus Allen thinking they would bestow their magic and Super Bowl experience on us. That didn’t work either.
Early this season I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We had Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered offense and a two-cylinder defense. But the Chiefs got it all together down the stretch when needed.
It’s pretty much the same formula they had in 1970 when the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 23 to 7 after being 13-point underdogs. We had a great coach in Hank Stram, a very efficient quarterback in Len Dawson, a two-pronged rushing attack and a fearsome defense that left Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp on the turf writhing in pain. Most of all, we believed like many of us do now.
My wife and I watched this weekend’s game at a local sports bar, and it felt like our collective energy pushed the team to victory.
Let’s do it again in a couple of weeks. It may have been 50 years since the Chiefs have been to a Super Bowl, but we’re back at a time when all need something to collectively root for.