I have been very lucky and blessed in my life to have been exposed to some wonderful people. Many of them are now considered extended family and often times lessons learned from family experience helps give a frame of reference to other events that occur in life, at least when the mind is given the opportunity to wander in search of conclusions to be drawn from those events.
One of those extended family members who was recently brought to mind, was widowed by a police officer many years ago. As I understand the circumstances, the officer was involved in a routine traffic stop in the early morning hours of just any ordinary day. On this particularly fateful day however, a habitual criminal was involved who decided that he would not be arrested. Instead, a struggle ensued wherein the criminal overcame the officer and summarily ended his life with a bullet to the back of the officers head, execution style. The offender was eventually apprehended and sentenced to a very long time in jail. Unfortunately, his time in jail was not without the chance at parole.
Every three years now, the officers widow and her son who is now a lawyer (yes, the officers son never really knew his father because he was very young at the time of the incident) must send out letters to friends and family requesting that they in turn send letters to the parole board asking to deny this prisoners attempts at parole. Every three years, those same friends and family, write letters to that parole board in an effort to keep this murderer in jail, and every time so far, the effort has succeeded.
From what the officer's widow has shared with us, the Parole board is sensitive to and influenced by the public's desire to keep this killer locked up. Every three years or so, when I send my letter and receive word that the effort was rewarded with a denial of parole, my faith in the system is renewed. I always feel that even though the justice system at times may appear unfair or that it is somehow being controverted into something it was never intended to be, at least this one thing still holds. Part of the system does the right thing.
I just received word a couple days ago that the most recent barrage of letters was successful, and while I was enjoying that renewed faith in the system that I describe above, it struck me how this microcosm of my life paralells (albeit about a much less serious subject) what Chiefs fans in general have been experiencing for years in terms of keeping their vigil of looking for a winner. There is, however, one major difference--Chiefs fans have not had their faith in the system renewed now for over 18 years.
January 16th, 1994 was the last time this team won a playoff game. For me, that was the last time my faith in the Chiefs system was renewed and actually bore fruit. Since then, all we've had were promises made and unkept. For me, Haley was the most fun one, simply because he had almost no baggage to carry with him when he moved in. What little he did have (a propensity to take diva-ish players off at the knees on the sidelines during a game) was looked at from a rather positive slant. I mean, just who did those Diva's think they were anyway?
Other than that, Haley had been the OC of a team that wasn't expected to go anywhere and wound up one play away from a Super Bowl championship. That's the kinda baggage I like! No other coaches since Marty was united with Joe can say the same in terms of what they brought with them. Gunther had no pedigree, Vermeil had Super Bowl credentials and blinders to anything but selling the farm in an attempt to get back there (which probably would have been widely accepted if he'd made good on that idea), Herm was a mess long before he showed up in KC, and Crennel was probably the biggest disappointment of all--mostly because I EXPECTED him to fail and he didn't let me down.
Haley (and by extension Pioli who had just come from one of the Super Bowl winningest teams in NFL history) was a dream. It was easy to throw support his way because there wasn't much to point to that made you think he couldn't be a success. It was fun to see what happened without that shadow of doubt hanging over everything like we otherwise seem to keep experiencing. Vermeil could probably be the closest thing to that we had besides Haley, but in retrospect, he seems to be the author of many moves (or lack thereof) that are still haunting this team today.
All I'm really saying is that it would be nice to get a new HC and GM whose background did not make it feel necessary to watch what they do like you'd watch a drug addict trying to kick the habit. And just to top that off, we get some really curious moves being made that are just prime for looking back on in a couple of years to use as fodder for the FIRE the head coach NOW cannon.
We have the choice of a very controversial QB and backup QB. I guess that is something that can't be avoided to a certain point, but don't you think the majority of the fan base would have been more forgiving if Reid had ponied up that first pick and gone long for a QB? Especially when all the pundits were saying that none of the QBs in the draft were not first pick quality? Don't you think that if that QB had failed the fan base would have thought 'at least he took a swing' rather than 'he was an idiot that should have listened to the pundits'? On the other side of the coin, how much of a QB expert would have Reid appeared to be if indeed (insert your fav QB of the 2013 draft name here) had proven them all wrong and taken a team into the playoffs? To me the downside of choosing Smith far outweighs those options, because if Smith fails as many believe he will, Reid has nowhere to hide from that choice. He even made sure the trade was done before the league allowed it to happen!! That won't be forgotten, particularly in the event that Smith is a flop.
Then we just flat cut one starting tackle who was still under contract and tried to trade the other without players of equal prowess to replace them. Sure we signed a replacement, but by most accounts that replacement is barely starting quality. Some, I suppose, would point to the drafting of Fisher as the bandaid for that wound, but no matter how good he becomes, he's still a rookie until he proves he's not.
I know that OTs are becoming controversial in their value to an offenses ability to function in this league, but that argued transition is far from complete. Speaking from the position of having seen some REALLY bad OT play on our line the last few years, I'd have to say I'd rather be safe than sorry. If this line can't protect Smith this year, we may all find out just how good Chase Daniel is at the NFL level. Nothing like taking the risk reward curve to new heights, huh?
Now, just today, we hear that Doreidos has traded the Cards for a FB when we already have three or four hanging around already. One of which we just took in the stinkin' draft for crying out loud. WTF? The trade of Arenas doesn't bother me that much because he had pretty much become a man without a job anyway. He was our depth at corner last year and ended up playing quite a bit on a 2-14 team that was going nowhere. He did a decent job, but with the new bodies we've seen brought in on defense this year and the transition into a more blitzing kind of defensive scheme via Mike Petine and the NY Jets (courtesy of Bob Sutton--we hope), it's not that surprising that the regime thinks that Arenas is expendable. It happens.
No, the weird part is the trade...for a FB of all things. This may go down as the biggest enigma in an offseason where there have been several. All of which merely leads me back to my initial ruminations.
Forty-three years and counting is an awfully long time for a drought. Actually the Chiefs suffer from droughts within droughts. Our shortest (many would not even call this a drought) is two years since our last playoff appearance. For the Bills, Raiders and Browns, it's been at least 10 seasons since they made such appearance, with the Bills winning the crown at 13 years. Chiefs fans know that feeling. After the Super Bowl win, the Chiefs made the playoffs the following year. That was followed by a fourteen year drought of just making a post season appearance. In my estimation, that was the darkest period of this franchises history. In the 25 years since then, the team has made post season appearance 12 times or almost every other year! They didn't come with that kind of regularity though, with the bulk of those appearances belonging to Marty.
When it comes to playoff game victories though, it gets worse. The last for the Chiefs was in 1994 during the playoffs for the '73 season, 19 years ago. Only two teams currently have longer stints of not winning playoff games. For the Lions it's been 21 seasons and for the Bengals it's been 22. This is not a club that I want to stay in.
Currently, eight teams are in the group that haven't won a playoff game in 10 or more years. That's 25% of the league folks. This is another club I'd like us to find a way out of. The names of the teams in that club will not surprise you. In order from least to longest: 10-Tampa Bay, Oakland, 12-Miami, 15-Cleveland, 17-Bills, 19-Chiefs, 21-Lions, 22-Bengals. Then we go to the Super Bowl Drought, where the Chiefs are almost the best (worst). For the Chiefs it's been a mere 43 years. The Jets who won Super Bowl three on the arm of Broadway Joe Namath are one ahead (behind) us at 44. The king of the category is the Detroit Lions. It's been 55 years since they won the NFL championship game (before the Super Bowl even began) when the '57 Chevy was new.
I suppose that the fact that there are 14 Clubs that have never won a Super Bowl in the first place should lessen the impact of that 43 year drought, but it doesn't. I've been a Chiefs fan for most of my life and I've always wanted that Super Bowl victory. Over and over again, that rug has been yanked out from under us. It's easy to be skeptical about this team. I hope Andy Reid is the answer, but right now, in this fans eye, he's just another coin flip. Here's hoping that Reid renew's all our faith in the Arrowhead system, because we need it. Just one more time, I'd love to hear Boomer say it. "Keep the change ya filthy animal".
Chiefs WILL. Chiefs WIN. Believe.