What Happened the Last Time the Chiefs' Game was Blacked Out?

Joel mentioned yesterday that the Chiefs needed to sell about 3,500 tickets in order for this weekend's game against the Buffalo Bills to be televised locally. In other words, they need to sell those tickets so the game isn't "blacked out."

The Chiefs have flirted with blackouts in recent years, especially at the end of the season as the losses rose and the temperatures dropped. I know for most of us that a blackout would be a signal that the fan base is truly downtrodden. It would be a story in the franchise's history that we as fans would point to to show others just how bad it was to be a Chiefs fan late in this decade.

For a little perspective, let's take a look at the last time the Chiefs game was blacked out - December 16th, 1990.

And for the record, I think this blackout talk about this weekend is nonsense. I want to take a look at the fan base now and back then to see if the blackout was justified.

It was Week 15 against the Houston Oilers. The attendance was 61,756 - about 6,500 fewer fans than attended the previous Kansas City Chiefs game against the Denver Broncos last week.

You think that a blackout is automatically associated with a bad football. In the case of the Chiefs last blackout, that wasn't the case.

The Chiefs in the 1980s were, let us say, not good. There were only three winning seasons that decade, eroding a fan base that was further beat down with the short but nasty 1987 NFL strike. The 1990 season was Marty Schottenheimer's second. He won eight games in '89, which in retrospect was a huge improvement over former head coaches in the 80s Frank Ganz and John Mackovic. Despite nearly a decade of bad play, the Chiefs were improving.

They were more than improving actually. Heading into that Week 15 against the Oilers, the Chiefs were 9-4!

Leading up to the blackout, the Chiefs had:

  • Started the season 4-2

  • Beaten the Raiders twice

  • Won four in a row

  • Coming off a big divisional win against the Broncos

Right now, I'd take just one of those. The Chiefs ended the 1990 season going 11-5 and made the playoffs.

For those of you who were old enough to remember being Chiefs fans in 1990, let us know why this game was blacked out. Weather? General lack of interest?

Was the fan base that bad compared to today? Are we just better fans now? It makes me angry to see Chiefs fans taking their team for granted. Let's make sure we never do that, okay?

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