I grew up in KC but live on the West Coast now, so it's kind of hard sometimes for me to gauge what the perception of things are in the city. I keep tabs on the Chiefs here at AP (seriously, how did out of town people retain their fandom before the internet?) but I know the faithful here are just that -- the faithful. The vast majority of contributors here seem to think the team is heading in the right direction, that the foundation is being laid the right way. But what's the average Kansas Citian make of all this? I talk to friends and family and they seem to just shrug their shoulders when it comes to the Chiefs.
We've often discussed here if the Chiefs are losing the fan base, if the they are losing the support of the city. Last year brought the first blacked out home game since the late 80s. It had been three decades since that happened. I remember as a kid growing up in KC that home game blackouts were just the norm. Home games were never, ever on TV. St Louis football Cardinal games would be on instead.
So how important is the game Monday night? How important is the game for the development of the team taking the next step? How important is the game in reconnecting the team to the town? How important is the game for the fans in finding their voice at Arrowhead again?
Before I moved to California I was a Chiefs season ticket holder. On October 7, 1991 we hosted Monday Night Football for the first time in years (I want to say it was the first home Monday night game in 15 years but I may be wrong about that). We were playing the Buffalo Bills, who were at the time the class of the AFC. Nobody gave KC a chance to win the game. The Chiefs didn't just win, they totally dominated Buffalo that night. On a national stage, the Chiefs took the field and said, "We're back." The Chiefs were part of the conversation from that point on. But another important thing happened that night. The Arrowhead crowd really learned how to be the 12th man that night. Nobody sat down that night. There was constant, deafening crowd noise. That Monday night game taught the fans how to affect the outcome of the game. The awesome home field advantage the Chiefs held for 20 years was really born that night. 10/7/91 is still my favorite Chiefs experience and still the single greatest sporting event I've ever attended.
So again I ask: how important is Monday night? If the Chiefs and the crowd bring the pain to the Chargers and win in convincing style a game nobody gives them much chance to win, what does that do for the team? For the fan base? For the town?
Personally, I think Monday Night is extremely important because it has the potential to represent a turning point in the history of the franchise, much like that Bills game turned out to be in 1991. It has the opportunity to completely re-energize the fan base in one night. It has the opportunity to be that next step for the team as they learn how to win. It's the season/home opener. It's the rededicating of the stadium, there will likely be a ton of former players on hand for pregame, a night time flyover, It should be bedlam in the stands. I hope it is.
Monday night the Chiefs can take the field along with the fans and the community and say, "We're back!"