"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane"- Ellis "Red" Redding, The Shawshank Redemption
Today is not a good day to be associated with the Kansas City Chiefs in any capacity. From the owner to the concessions worker, from Scott Pioli to craig in calgary, this is a dark day. This is an eclipse. This is a nightmare scenario that nobody (apparently not management either) considered probable. It is not simply just the embarrassing loss and it is not just the loss of one of the best safeties in the game in Eric Berry. It is the timing and circumstances surrounding these events that have left Chiefs Nation in a truly hopeless state of mind.
Such is our quandry on September 12, 2011, even before all of the Week 1 games have been played. Have we not uttered or heard all of the following over the last 24 hours?:
"This Season is Over"
"This is all Haley's/Pioli's fault"
"This team is an embarrassment"
"We should have signed......"
"Cassel will never be a good NFL QB"
I am not here to debate any of those. A good case can be made for any of those statements. The season may now be drastically altered and our chance of being a playoff team has been reduced greatly. Depending who you listen to, it may be Coach Haley or Scott Pioli or both that have played a major role in this mess. Yes, yesterday we were an embarrassment. In hindsight, yes depth at certain positions could have been a great idea for the squad. And yes, perhaps as many have pointed out, maybe Matt Cassel is not ever going to be the QB that we as fans wish he were. These are all very valid arguments and all paint a picture of hopelessness for the remaining 15 games on our schedule.
Making it more hopeless is the fact that around this fan base there always needs to be a scapegoat. We NEED to blame somebody. We NEED a fall guy when things go wrong. We NEED to find more reasons to display why we feel the NFL disrespects us. We NEED to bicker with each other over true fanhood (kool-aid vs. realist, homer vs. honesty) in a manner which would give even Sigmund Freud fits.
All in all, perhaps many of you are right and have been all along. This team, this franchise, this coach; they are all hopeless and people do not want to take that anymore.
I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree.
Ten months ago, on a personal note, I went through a very life altering situation, which changed my views on everything. Everything. From religion, to attitude, to how I view the world, everything changed. I vowed to never feel sorry for myself ever again.
That life experience has given me hope in many ways. And with 15 games left, I have hope for the members of our beloved Chiefs, the coaching staff, support staff, ownership, and the fans of Chiefs Nation. I do not believe this season is over, and I will tell you that I am writing that statement with a stone cold serious tone behind it. How can it be done you ask? I know one thing, from my days as an athlete and as a coach: It's not going to be easy and negativity is only going to make it impossible to give this team a chance (note: you don't have to be all "Polly Positive" and be a cheerleader, but you can still give this group a shot).
First, let's start with the injury to Eric Berry. He is a soldier. He, in my opinion, is the unequivocal leader of this defense. You do not replace a player like him, this is true. But you do what you can to game plan according to the strengths and weaknesses of his fill-ins as well as how this affects the rest of the defense. Why did the team look so bad against the pass yesterday? I'd venture to say it dealt a lot with NEVER having to deal with Eric Berry being off the field. Were guys confused out there? Yes. Did they blow coverages and attack from poor angles? Yes. Are John McGraw and Sabby Piscitelli suitable backups? Maybe not, but this is who we are. When I learned about being a fan long ago, it meant you root for the entire team, and you support the entire team. This goes for players you do not think should be on the team and/or players who you cannot stand. Can we survive the season without Berry? I truthfully do not know. But I will be darned if I am going to give up on this team because of his unfortunate injury.
The performance yesterday was atrocious there is no getting around it. We expected more and we got less, and have gotten less since camp started. Why did we expect more? Simply put, we are the defending AFC West Champions and champs do NOT look like how we have looked since the lockout ended.
Let me pose this question to you though: "Was our division title ahead of schedule, a schedule in which we were creating a long-term plan for consistent success?" Yes it was. We bought into the mantra of building from within, Patriot way, etc,, etc. Hook, line and sinker. And when we were graced with a title last year, human nature caused us to be greedy. We want more now. More titles and not just division ones. We want playoff wins and we want them NOW!. It is not our fault for having those expectations, but it is our fault for losing sight of what the initial plan was: to build this team from within with good drafts and solid player development. That would give us the chance to succeed year in and year out. But after a division titile, and after another solid draft, we got greedy, even when warned that we may be looking too far ahead.
And let it be known that not everyone had this rosy disposition. Many have said we stunk long before yesterday. Many have called for Cassel's head. Many have disliked Coach Haley. Many don't care for Pioli. But where does that get any of us? The greediness or the negativity get/have gotten us NOWHERE. Maybe you truly do think we are cursed. Maybe as Coach Norman Dale said in Hoosiers, "Maybe they were right about us. Maybe we don't belong here." Either way, I can tell you in the most cliched way possible what we REALLY are. Here it is. You ready for it?
0-1. That is what we are. And that is the full extent of it. And if we lose this week, we will be 0-2 and the season will continue on. But we are the lifeblood of this organization, and to give up goes against everything that being a fan of a team is all about. We make a choice when giving ourselves emotionally to a franchise to back them in good times and in bad. Yes we have had lots of bad, but this group is not going to quit on us and conversely I do not think we should give up on them. I am not telling you how to be a fan. I am telling you what my plan is and the plan for other likeminded individuals. When my phone rings, on the background it says this quote: "Do you remember the guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else." I hope in some way we all can adopt a similar mantra.
So yes, I have hope. And unlike Red I do not think it is dangerous. I think having hope is what gets some of us through a busy work week, or a tough situation at home/job. I think having hope for every Sunday is what drives us to be recognized universally as some of the best sports fans in the country. I disagree with Red and I disagree with those who will try to bring the spirits of a proud fan base down. I guess you could say I'm more like Andy. Go Chiefs.
"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."- Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption