Note - this is the third consecutive and final year of my original post. Being this is an anniversary, I thought I would put it up one last time. But my holiday wish my friends will endure forever. Thanks for understanding. S
Municipal Stadium, Kansas City, Christmas Day 1971. Forty Years ago today.
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 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 this was always his busy time of the year. So late season football games at Arrowhead were few and far between. But we always seemed to make it to some early season games and it all started downtown at Municipal Stadium. Later we all went to Arrowhead and I have been taking my own kids for the past twenty or so years to each home contest. My granddaughter has gone and I got to go with my grandfather that first year so that makes five generations of Chief's fans. They all understood what I did that Christmas afternoon.
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's 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 that they are just exceptional people that give back to their community and have attachment to their team.
For those of you who don't know about my screen name, Stenerud's Roost was the part of Old Municipal Stadium beyond the end zone where one of his field goals or extra points landed. It's where I sat and watched my first Chief's 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 parents and siblings and cousins all opened their gifts and were together to celebrate the day that Christ was born, I was all alone with 50,000 other Chief's fans watching as Podolak put up some stupid numbers in a game that would not end.
But I didn't want to do anything else when the Chief's were playing. Nor do I today. Yes, I did the six hour road trip yesterday with a couple of the guys even though it was Christmas Eve. I got "the look" from my wife and my daughters. They knew it was the Raiders. They didn't necessarily agree but they understood. Still, no one said a word. And no one wore black this week.
For the rest of you in Chief's Nation, tell your kids about your own Chief's traditions when they grow up. They'll make their own in due time. Take time to be with family and friends on Sunday's. Celebrate victories and commiserate in defeat. But win or lose, this is OUR team. Take 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's fans, I wish you a Merry Christmas. But what ever your religious belief this holiday season, I know who we all believe in each football season. So if your perpetual Christmas wish includes a Chief's playoff win, it will come. In time.
We are fans for life. And 9 year old's don't have a sense of time.