Let me start by saying that this is not going to be my typical Kool Aid post for a couple of reasons. First, the Kool Aid is already flowing like water after that win Monday night. Second, the amount of information pouring out of AP these days is so great that there is very little I could point out that hasn’t already been done by countless others. Did you hear DJ had 12 tackles and a forced fumble? Oh, okay, how about the fact that we contained Ryan Matthews for just 75 yards on 19 carries? You did huh? I suppose you already picked up on the fact that our kick returners had pretty good averages too? How about that we only had three penalties? We didn’t turn the ball over?
See what I mean.
However, I was one of the thousands in attendance Monday night. I stood in the Sea of Red, and let me tell you friends, not all the Kool Aid pitchers in the world could contain it. So I made a conscious effort to bottle some of it up to share with you.
Let me start by saying my total Monday Night Football experience did not go at all as I had planned. My step brother picked me up at my work at 3:30 and we headed off on our 3 hour drive to KC. We would have loved to tailgate, but it just wasn’t an option this time. After a quick pit stop we checked into our hotel in Olathe about 6:45. Then we headed for the stadium. Our hope was to get in as close to the 7:30 opening gate time as possible so we could fully check out the new Arrowhead before the 8:35 experience. We knew traffic would be crazy by the stadium but the first of two Yo-Yo’s (this one the “traffic guy”) on the radio told us everything was running smooth with no back ups. Everything looked great until about a mile and a half out from Stadium Drive on 435. We came to a standstill and didn’t hit the parking lot for another hour. At this point it was after 8:00pm so we knew we weren’t going to get any time to walk around before “The Experience”. What we didn’t know was that at this point the “traffic guides” were so overloaded that they were pretty much letting people go wherever they wanted in an “every man for themselves” parking lot traffic jam. 40 minutes after hitting the parking booth we finally got in a parking space. So now we’re missing “The Experience” and are just going to have time to hit the restroom and get something to drink before kickoff. We rush up to the stadium leaving our raincoats behind because Yo-Yo on the radio number two (this time the weather guy) says we’ve lucked out and it’s going to be beautiful for the game and the rain won’t hit until about 2am. The result of that was I was soaked to the bone, to the point that my white undershirt was turned pink by the red #7 jersey I was wearing.
Now why waste your time with that previous rant? I’ll tell you why, because I thought my total game experience was going to be defined by all the cool “stuff” surrounding this game. It’s Monday Night Football, the season opener, the grand opening of the New Arrowhead, the pre-game “Experience”. I wanted to walk through the Hall of Honor. I wanted to Whack a Raider. I wanted to eat one of those artery clogging new sandwiches before the game since I couldn’t tailgate. I missed all that stuff. I was stuck in traffic for two hours and made it in just in time for kick off only to get rained on for most of the game. I should have been pissed off and miserable.
Instead I had what was probably the best evening since my daughter was born two and a half years ago. None of that stuff mattered once I came out of the tunnel on the upper deck and was engulfed by the Sea of Red. The picture up above was taken right about the time we got to our seats. Our first view of the field and crowd was illuminated only by the red and gold fireworks exploding in the night sky. Awesome.
We were in our seats about the time the fireworks stopped and KC Wolf was zipping down into the stadium. Once it was time for the National Anthem and I joined in with the rest of the Sea yelling “Chiefs” at the end I knew it was going to be a special night. The crowd was amazing as the game started. Packed shoulder to shoulder we all yelled and screamed. It was like the glory days I grew up watching on TV. I would sit in awe of this monster crowd screaming like a pack of wild dogs while DT and Neil Smith drove the apposing QB into the turf.
Then the rain came.
Now when I first started to feel some sprinkles I was amazed at how many fans made a dash for the concourses. I don’t think many went home. They just chose to watch on TVs out of the rain. I saw more then one guy pulled from his seat by their date for the evening who wasn’t willing to stick it out. I really felt for them. (I’m in no way implying that all the “girls” made a run for it, there were plenty of “die hard” ladies that stayed). At first I was really disappointed. However, then I noticed something. As much of a kinship as I felt with the entire crowd that night, there was a whole other level with those that remained after the rain came. We all shared a kind of wild look in our eyes. A look that said: “Bring it on rain! You aren’t going to shut this crowd up!” People were pounding on the now empty seats in front of them. People could spread out from side to side which aloud room to jump up and down like a crazy person when Dexter took that kick to the house. I think every person left out there screamed that much louder. After each San Diego penalty or time out that we induced we would scream in victory and look at these strangers around us and smile and nod our heads. The rain would not silence the Sea of Red.
I’m in no way trying to put down those who took shelter from the rain. I heard one person who came back from the restroom describe it as “a giant Chiefs block party down there”. That’s awesome. The fact that people refused to go home and cheered the team on from down there is cool. I’m just telling you how those of us who sat out there soaked and shivering felt. The pride we took in what we were doing.
Then after the game it just kept going. You saw THIS amazing clip from ZachIsHere showing how the Sea of Red just kept going even after the game was over. If you weren’t “chopping” as you chanted on your way out, you were high fiving strangers. One guy walking behind me grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me yelling “YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH CHHHHHIIIIIIEEEFFFFFFFFSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!”. Some random girl in a Dante Hall jersey punched me in the arm and went “WOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Since we didn’t get to see the stadium before the game my buddy and I decided to walk the outside perimeter of the stadium while we let traffic thin out. Great call on our part. Not because we got to see Founders Plaza (which was cool), but because it was more time spent in the Sea. By the time we circled the stadium it was probably 30-45 minutes after the game had ended and we still couldn’t go 20 yards without another Chiefs fan giving us high fives and screaming. I couldn’t help but notice the more soaked a person looked the louder they seemed to be yelling.
So here’s my glass of Kool Aid for you for this first week of the season. The Sea of Red matters. Those penalties and time outs and overall inability for the Chargers to hear helped our team win. Die hard fans like you and I love this team so much we sometimes literally try and will our team to win. We yell at the TV. We pace back and forth in our living room wishing there was something we could do to turn the tide. Your Kool Aid for this week is........ we can. Go to that stadium and yell and scream your heart out. Go and make life miserable for the opposing team. Don’t go just to see the new stadium or the ring of honor. Don’t think that just because a game isn’t on Monday Night Football and Train isn’t performing at halftime it’s not worth it. The Arrowhead home field advantage that we the fans, the Sea of Red, created is worth it. That’s what I learned Monday night.
I was just a kid when Marty had his best teams. I was a broke college student when Vermeil had his best teams. The only other games I’d been to were in the Edwards years. I had never been a part of a crowd like that before. I’ve never tried crack before, but I’d imagine the addiction is similar. I want to go back. I want to lose my voice again. I want the palms of my hands to be numb again from smacking the seat in front of me as hard as I could. This is America, and if you don’t think the Chiefs have earned your dollar yet, that’s your right. But if you’re like me and money’s tight (school teacher, 2 kids in daycare, mortgage, etc) and you can’t decide if it’s worth the money, it is. If you love the Chiefs like I do it’s worth every penny. I’d drive up from the Wichita area every Sunday if I could still make ends meet. Even if we lose. Even if Eric Berry gives up another long TD. Even if Matt Cassel isn’t great. If I can help give the team a better chance to win by sitting up there in the nose bleed section and yelling like a banshee, it’s on.
I don’t know what the outcome of the game will be on September 25th versus the 49ers. More then anything, what I really want to see is that the Sea of Red is still there. It didn’t ride off into the sunset with the Monday Night Football crew and take our home field advantage with it. If the Sea is back for good I like our chances this year. I like our chances a lot. So drink up AP. This week’s Sea of Red Kool Aid tastes like awesomeness and win, but be careful, it’s addictive.