This was originally posted on December 24th, 2009. -Chris
Municipal Stadium, Kansas City, Christmas Day 1971
It will be remembered by NFL historians as the longest playoff game ever played. It will be remembered by Chief's fans as the day Ed Podolak gained a record 350 all-purpose yards. Me, I will always remember watching Bob Griese and the Dolphins beat the Chiefs all alone in my aunt's basement and completely missed opening presents. That might sound trivial to some as adults but please understand, I was only 9 years old at the time. And my mom was frustrated because I kept telling her that I would be upstairs to join everyone "as soon as the game was over."
Of course, it felt like it would never end. And that was perfectly fine by me.
Christmas season has always been about family. And Chiefs football. My dad used to work in retail and that was his busy time of the year. So late season games in KC were few. But we always managed to go to a couple of early games each year and it all started downtown in Municipal Stadium. Later we went to Arrowhead and I have been taking my own kids for the past 20 years to each home contest. Last weekend I took my grand-daughter who is 1. Adding my grandfather who went the first time with me, that's five generations. They understood what I did that Christmas afternoon.
Bob Gretz polled Chief's Nation last week about the greatest game of the past decade. In my mind, it had to be the Broncos on Thanksgiving night in '06. But as true fans, we also remember the hard-to-swallow losses. I still get pissed thinking about the Eagles and TO and McNabb coming from behind to beat us at home in 2005. And don't even get me started on "the kicker who will forever remain nameless".
But that Christmas Day wasn't about the loss as much as it was the lifetime connection with my idols and this team. Ed, Lenny the Cool, Otis, Willie, Buck, Emmitt, Curly, Bobby, and yep, the only pure kicker in the hall of fame.
And it is the stuff that you teach your kids ‘cause you learned it from your parents. The games become seasons and the seasons become lifetimes. The players become icons in little boy's eyes. Later in life you learn they are just exceptional people who give back to their community and have attachment to the team.
For those of you who don't know about my screen name, Stenerud's Roost was the section of old Municipal Stadium beyond the endzone. It's where Jan Stenerud's kicks ended up after one of his many field goals or extra points. It's where I sat and watched my first Chiefs game. That Christmas Day in 1971 was the last game ever played in Municipal Stadium. No more roost. But it formed a part of me and created a passion for the Chiefs that will last forever. While my mom and dad and siblings and cousins all opened their gifts and were together on Christmas to celebrate the day that Christ was born, I was alone with 50,000 other Chief's fans watching Podolak put up some stupid numbers in a game that would not end. But I didn't want to do anything else when the Chiefs were playing. Nor do I today. Ask Steve, Lanier, OCF, Satch. Hell, ask my wife. They all understand.
For the rest of you in Chief's Nation, tell your kids about your own Chief's experiences when they grow up. They'll make their own in due time. Take time to be with family and friends on Sundays. Celebrate victories and commiserate in defeats. But win or lose, this is OUR team. Take the time to enjoy the tailgates whether they are at Arrowhead, in the dorm, your living room, at the pub or in the desert of the middle east.
For you my fellow Chief fans, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. But whatever your religious beliefs this holiday season, I know who we all believe in each football season. So if your perpetual Christmas wish list includes a Kansas City playoff win, it will come. In time.
We are fans for life. And 9 year-old's don't have a sense of time.