It's been nearly two months since the playoff loss, and we can all feel the off-season pressing down upon us. For an avid sport fan, no time of year is worse than the season when he can't switch on the TV and see his favorite team playing his favorite game. In the world of professional athletics, fans can occupy themselves by speculating about what will happen between now and the beginning of next season--who will their team draft, and who will they let go? Are there going to be any coaching changes?
As Chiefs fans, we have a lot to worry about, despite our success in 2013. We have in this upcoming one of the toughest schedules out there (Seahawks, Patriots, Broncosx2, 49ers, Steelers, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Chargersx2). We have a roster that has some hugely apparent needs--free safety, dynamic tight end, defensive end, cornerback, coverage linebacker. And we have months and months to think about these things.
But we have to think about some other things, too, and as a recently-converted Chiefs fan who has begun delving into the rich lore of this team I believe that there are things more important to football than the combine, the draft, free agency, or training camp. There are some things that are more important, I believe, than wins. As fans, we can get caught up in wins and losses, in signings and cuttings. But at the end of the day, I think that we can appreciate the most important things about football.
More significant than the Chiefs turning around their win-loss record from season to season was the change in attitude that accompanied the 2013 season. The Chiefs certainly struggled in different areas throughout the season--earlier on, the offense had just as rough a ride as the defense did in the second half of the season--but at no point did we see a single player give up on his teammates. And that is one of the most important things about football: one of the lessons it teaches about manhood is loyalty. RDOGuy alluded to this in his fanpost, "Be smart tonight". Players on the field share a bond that is almost familial in strength, and while the Chiefs showed some weakness during the season they never showed that their loyalty was anything but exceptionally strong. It has been a long while for Kansas City since the entire Chiefs team has been this dedicated to each other, the organization, and the fan base.
I've been reading about Chiefs players, both current and present, and I have seen that the franchise has been blessed with players who embody the more important components of football--perseverance, honesty, manliness, and leadership. I read about Will Shields, who played with all his heart all game every game. I read about how Shields impacted the community and helped people without a second thought. I read about how he, in spite of being picked in the third round, played at a level befitting the title of "great".
I read about Alex Smith, who could have hung up his pads long ago. I read about how he overcame being pressured and harassed in San Francisco. I watched the video of him being interviewed at the Super Bowl, without a podium, by Deion Sanders. I have never seen him speak out against anyone--his coaches, his teammates, or fans--when he would have been completely justified in doing so. I read about his charity, which helps foster children to go to and succeed in college.
I read about Chiefs players, past and present, and I realize that the people of Kansas City are blessed. We didn't win the Lombardi this year. We didn't win a playoff game. Those prizes are yet on the horizon for us. But we have what is truly important, and it is something that Kansas City has always had an abundance of: character.