With the offseason finally coming to an end, the outlook of real football has all of us feeling excitement that only Chiefsmas can bring. Training camp, preseason, and the beginning of the regular season are great times for any fan. The final 53 man roster is meticulously selected, unknown players put everything on the line to make their dreams a reality, and fans get a small glimpse of what may come in the future. For all that is so great about the start of a new season, nothing may be greater than the unregulated hype. The 'unknowns' and the 'could be's' often escalate to unrealistic levels. Sadly when reality hits it can be quite a drag, but in life we live and we learn.
For the sake of a starting point, let's begin with 2009; the beginning of the Todd Haley, Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel regime. This was thought to be a 'rebuilding' season. There was much excitement with the hires. To this day most Chiefs fans would think that Clark Hunt hired what appeared to be the best GM, head coach, and even quarterback at the time. Unfortunately however, appearances can be deceiving.
Lesson Learned: Bill Belichick castoffs and a temperamental head coach mix like hot dogs and roller coasters; eventually they make everyone sick. The 2009 season and its hype was over as soon as it started. We live and we learn.
Then came 2010. The Chiefs did a lot of living in 2010 and a little less 'learning.' The hype leading into 2010 was moderate compared to some years in the Kingdom. A mixture of good things and could be's were tossed in with the aches from 2009. Not many people would have predicted a playoff appearance for a team that had won four games in the prior year. For all intents and purposes, 2010 was good to the Chiefs but no one could have been prepared for 2011.
The 2011 season was met with incredible hype. The prior season was reason for hope. For the Chiefs and Todd Haley, the entire 2011 season could be summed up by the opposite of this classic Haley reaction.
If the 2010 season were the moans, hops, and slightly awkward sensual expression depicted above then the 2011 season was filled with groans, drops, and embarrassingly awkward QB play.
Lesson Learned No. 1: The quickest and easiest way to get fired in the NFL is to start Tyler Palko.
Lesson Learned No . 2: Don't ever trust a head coach - wait, anyone - who behaves in this manner (at least in public.) We live and we learn.
Fast forward to 2012, the most over-hyped season in all of Chiefs history perhaps. Romeo Crennel was coaching now after he had won two out of three games to finish the season before. Like the quote from the Wizard of Oz - "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" - Scott Pioli chose to "Pay no attention to his new coach's prior win-loss record." The preseason leading into 2012 was really something. It brought us perhaps the greatest level of unwarranted hype of all time in the Chiefs Kingdom.
How many people remember this play?
The feelings this play evoked in many of us is unregulated hype at its finest. Peyton Hillis was the perfect complement in the backfield. The Chiefs offense couldn't be stopped. We all remember seeing the videos of Hillis pulling a truck behind him on the street and thinking wow. Unfortunately the regular season started and it seemed as though Hillis never quit dragging the truck behind him.
Lesson Learned No. 1: Pulling a truck behind you doesn't make you a better running back.
Lesson Learned No. 2: If a coach has a career .375 winning percentage, it may be a wise idea to find someone with a better track record. We live and we learn.
In a way we should all be glad for 2012. Without that season the Chiefs never would have acquired Andy Reid. Despite some questions others may have had about Reid, the 2013 started and it started well. There were still questions though. Is Andy Reid the same coach who finished so poorly with the Eagles? Is Alex Smith really just Matt Cassel wearing an Alex Smith suit in disguise, and if so where do you find such a suit? What do I do with the paper bag I wore over my head in 2012? Do I do the right thing and recycle it or do I just throw it in with the regular trash like the scum that I am? 2013 was met with 'optimistic fear' - something only Chiefs fans can describe. Our optimistic fear was exacerbated by this play on opening day in 2013. (Thanks Big Cat Country)
Welp - seasons over. Back to this garbage again. I quit ... All of which were thoughts that may have been running through your mind. But then something almost magical happened. The Chiefs won the game 28 - 2 and this was the only time the Jaguars scored. Something may have changed that day. Maybe, just maybe it began the process of 'living and unlearning.' The Chiefs began to unlearn themselves to a 9 - 0 start. 2013 was a great season to be a Chief until the epic collapse in the postseason. Once again we live and we learn.
The 2014 season came upon us without too much 'over-hype.' Any and all hype that was generated was most relatively warranted due to the prior season and Andy Reid's history. The 2014 season ended unfortunately without the Chiefs making it to the playoffs and we continued to live and learn. However the living and learning ratio in 2013 and 2014 was nothing compared to the past regime. As Chiefs fans we are unlearning the pains from the past and beginning to live in the present, which has a lot of hope for these Chiefs.
However crazy the hype may be leading into this season - remember, this team doesn't have a Peyton HIllis, Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel nor a Scott Pioli. The question marks for this version of the Chiefs are becoming fewer and fewer, which should lead to more hype.
So let's all root for our favorite undrafted free agent, let everyone know that the defense can be the best in the league, and laugh in the face of anyone who says the Chiefs won't finish first in the AFC West this year. Because right now, it's the start of a new year and anything can happen. If we all make fools of ourselves and none of the Chiefs UDFAs pan out and the Chiefs don't win the AFC West then there is always this to fall back on: We live and we learn. As of right now it seems there will be much more living in 2015 than learning.
The roller coaster has already begun with the news of Poe and now Berry's remarkable comeback. Let the new season hype begin!