The "What If" Game, starring the Chiefs, Michael Jordan, and the Thormans

Another week down, another bout with strep throat for me and the wife.  Seriously, I was sick once a year until I had kids.  Now it seems like I can't go a month without catching some kind of disease.  I think the only thing I HAVEN'T had is leprosy.  And I'm pretty sure the little anklebiters are working on that as we speak.  That's one of several things no one warns you about before you have kids.  I'd talk about the other things, but I don't want to spoil the fun for those of you who haven't learned firsthand the joys of parenting yet (I'm using the word "joys" very, very loosely here).

Anyways, we're still where we were at last week.  The collective bargaining agreement looks close.  There isn't a whole lot of news to talk about besides Mike Vrabel (reportedly) leaving for a coaching job.  I'm not ready for the "Are we there yet" story about our offense, and I don't feel like "arguing with idiots" this week.  So what to do?

It's time to play everyone's favorite game... The "What If" game!  We all love speculation, and it's interesting to look back on past events and see how they could have played out, for better or worse.  I'm going to cover some of my favorite "what if" scenarios.  I'd also like to hear some of your own.  If you're looking for something other than a little tiwatainment (time wasting entertainment, that is.  Yep, I'm keeping that schtick alive for another week), move along.  There's nothing here for you.  

What if Bernard Pollard hadn't crashed into Tom Brady's knee?

That's right, I'm starting out hot and heavy.  Short term effect:  the Patriots go on to win the Super Bowl with a major chip on their shoulder from the previous year, flirting with but not achieving a perfect season.  Big Ben doesn't make that "leap" to superstardom since the Steelers don't win another Super Bowl, and Kurt Warner/Brady set a SB record by throwing 12 combined touchdowns in the most offensively dominated game of all time.

Medium term effect:  Matt Cassel never plays, and therefore never becomes a Kansas City Chief.  Whoa, the possibilities just opened up in a huge way!  As much as I hate Mark Sanchez, I can see us taking him 3rd now that we have a gaping hole at quarterback.  Would I rather have Josh Freeman?  Absolutely.  He's far superior to Sanchize in every sense.  But this is a realistic "What If", and no one expected Freeman to be as good as he's been. Of course, the Chiefs still have a 2nd round pick.  But really, where do they (realistically) go with it?  That draft sucked.  Take a look sometime.  It's like the NFL Draft's version of the 2008 Lions.  Seriously, there was practically no talent there after the first round except the VERY occasional gem.  Bottom line for the Chiefs... we're worse off.  It's doubtful we land a decent guy with that 2nd rounder (given Pioli's lack of prep time), Vrabel's never around to help our D get used to a 3-4, and Sanchize sucks twice as badly in KC without a Super Bowl caliber defense and O-line to protect him.

Long term effect:  The NFL doesn't overreact with twenty different "OMG!  We need to protect franchise QB's from getting hurt or the league's gonna go under!" panic rules.  In addition, player safety overall doesn't become quite as hot button an issue.  The league doesn't shift to a borderline flag football league where if you've got a good QB and 4 receivers no defense can stop you.  Is this better or worse?  Depends on your point of view.  It's fun to watch teams air it out, and I don't want to see totally vicious hits out there.  But still... it's hard to enjoy the game as much when defensive players are handcuffed rushing the passer or setting their sites on a receiver going across the middle.  Maybe that's just my opinion, though.

What if 2.7 never tweets about Todd Haley?

Short term effect in this case is that 2.7 continues to drag our offense down for the rest of the season.  While I think at SOME point Haley would start to give carries away elsewhere, it's by no means a given.  The man is stubborn and believes that his system can work if executed (this can be good and bad.  In this case, BAD).  We fail to win a game down the stretch (remember, JC was crucial in every victory besides our first that year) and The Great Restart becomes The Great Disaster.

In the long term, I'm not sure how much damage this would do to Jamaal Charles.  After all, he's only human, and spending another entire year watching as a less talented back gets all the carries could very well damage his attitude for life.  Maybe he decides, "Screw it, there's no point in trying for these guys" and doesn't make any kind of real impact for us.  Given his talent level, it's pretty safe to assume he'd go on to star somewhere else in that scenario after his rookie deal expired.  Then again, maybe he makes enough plays to steal some time.  It's tough to say, but I think it's a safe bet that 2.7's tweets might have been his greatest contribution to the Chiefs.

What if the 1984 NBA Draft panned out differently?

Yeah, I know, this isn't about football.  But I don't care, because this is a scenario you HAVE to know about if you're a sports fan.  After reading a quote from Hakeem Olajuwon's autobiogrpahy, my mind was blown.  According to Hakeem, the Portland Trail Blazers offered their number 2 pick and Clyde Drexler for Ralph Sampson before the draft that year.

Now, this sounds farfetched right now, but remember that at the time, Drexler was coming off a rookie season in which he only scored 7.7 PPG while shooting 45% from the field.  He didn't exactly light the world on fire.  And also, remember Portland wanted a center badly enough to pass on Michael freaking Jordan for a guy who had already missed 2 seasons of college ball due to injury and averaged 10 points and 9 rebounds per game.  Even further, Sampson was considered THE next big thing in the NBA at the time, averaging 21 points and 11 boards with over 2 blocks a game as a rookie.  So this trade isn't farfetched at all from Portland's standpoint.

Consider the ramifications for a second.  Houston trades away Sampson, gets Drexler, then drafts Hakeem and Jordan at #1 and #2.  Holy mother of God.  I could get into the Rockets also having some decent guards and swingmen already at the time (which they did), but I don't even need to.  In case you're having trouble realizing the impact this would have on the league, here's a quote from MJ about Hakeem.

"If I had to pick a center [for an all-time best team], I would take Olajuwon. That leaves out Shaq, Patrick Ewing. It leaves out Wilt Chamberlain. It leaves out a lot of people. And the reason I would take Olajuwon is very simple: he is so versatile because of what he can give you from that position. It's not just his scoring, not just his rebounding or not just his blocked shots. People don't realize he was in the top seven in steals. He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him."

That's how good Hakeem Olajuwon was.  From an all-around standpoint, you can't top him as a center in the modern era.  You team him with MJ and it doesn't matter one bit who their teammates are.  You could put me, Aiken, and ups out there with those two and you'd have a team that would get to the playoffs.  Two of the best offensive and defensive players of all time on the same team?  Who matches up against that?  They eat every other inside/outside combo alive.  

In addition, this would have made Clyde Drexler's career (already very respectable) change for the better.  You see, he had all the talent in the world but didn't have the mindset to be an alpha dog.  Take away that pressure and he can just do what he does, which is a relatively decent Jordan Lite routine.  He's a perfect 3rd wheel because of his scoring ability, especially since he now would draw every team's second best defender.  Also, his defensive limitations would be masked with Jordan shutting down the other team's best guard and Hakeem patrolling the paint. 

So to sum up, you've got two All NBA 1st Team guys, both of whom are clutch and love to win.  You've also got a 3rd wheel who feasts on anything but top notch defenders and provides extra highlight reels.  They'd stay together because MJ and Hakeem would enjoy eviscerating the league, and Clyde would enjoy the no-pressure-tons-of-props situation.  Surround them with even subpar talent and you're contending for a title.  

That's a lot to say on a non-NFL "What If", I know.  But this team, barring injury, wins at LEAST 8 titles.  And it's not even a question in my mind.  And imagine, Houston passed it up.  Ouch.  I feel cheated in that I never got to see this team.

What if Chris and Joel Thorman had never started Arrowhead Pride?

The damage done here would be almost incalculable.  At the very least...

Ups would be currently writing for some political blog, thus wasting his talent in meaningless pursuits.

Aiken and Porkchop (remember that guy? Sigh...) would start their own website called "All Things Chiefs", which would set a new record for blatant homerism.  

BJ Kissel would become a successful author, reviving the "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, with the twist being all books are about the Chiefs.  While wildly successful, he's left hollow without the interaction of other Chiefs fans and becomes a modern Hemingway (without the self-offing), brooding his life away.

With the national media as the only source of Chief's news, Kansas City fans everywhere become so ignorant as a fanbase other teams' fans begin to lump us in with Charger fans.  

H2E, without an outlet for his rage, goes on a nationwide bank robbing spree, finally being gunned down in a hail of bullets.  His last words are to call the paramedics attempting to revive him "nancyboy mouth-breathers".

The poster formerly known as Falcon, without the distraction of AP, would be referred to right now as "Mr. President".

Chris would finally be using that mustache for the career it was made for.  You know, mustache model.  Get your head out of the gutter.

Joel is wandering the earth, similar to Jules from Pulp Fiction.  He carries around a I-Phone that is engraved "Bad Mother *&$#%@" and sometimes randomly scoops every reporter in the nation on a Chiefs story, only to vanish into the night immediately afterward.

And me?  Well, I'd flunk out of college without such a stimulating site to keep me sharp and hone my writing skills.  My wife leaves me, taking the kids, and I have no choice but to make a living selling my body.  And by that, of course, I mean letting various universities use me for their experiments.  Seriously, get your head out of the gutter.  

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