2015 was arguably the greatest season I've experienced as a Chiefs fan.
I'm going to ignore for purposes of this article how sad that will seem to a Patriots fan, Steelers fan, or whatever other fan of a team that has won multiple Super Bowls and all that static. It's just a simple truth; I heart the Chiefs 2015 season.
I've spoken many times about why I watch (and love) football. I don't do it for the intellectual challenge of breaking down film. I don't do it so I can try and predict what players the Chiefs should draft. I don't do it to second guess the coach or GM or whoever. And I don't do it for the satisfaction of cheering for a winner. I do it because I find football to be an entertaining and beautiful sport. It's a hobby. It's supposed to be fun.
And holy crap, was 2015 fun.
We got to watch a team do something that NOBODY had done before. Going from 1-5 (and a really, really rough looking 1-5) to 11-5 and a playoff victory is... well, it's unprecedented. No team has ever crawled out of a hole like that. No team has ever been so beaten and bloodied, then managed to claw its way back into contention. No team that was considered arguably the worst team in the league (you know people were saying it) after six games became the team that "no one wants to play" in the playoffs. Ever.
The 2015 squad lost a stomach punch at home in Week 2. They got blown out by a pair of superior teams. They lost five straight. They handed a game over to a crappy team (da Bears). They handed a poorly-played game over to a mediocre-at-the-time Vikings team. They lost their best player to a torn ACL.
Then they stood up, wiped the sweat and blood and tears off their face, and proceeded to punch the league in the face for 11 straight weeks. They lost Justin Houston to injury. They kept coming. They lost Husain Abdullah to injury. They kept coming. They lost every offensive lineman at some point or another. They kept coming. Tamba Hali became a walking injury. They kept coming.
In the book The Silmarillion (yeah, we're getting DEEP nerdy with references today), essentially a prequel to the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, there's a fantastic scene depicted in which Huor and Hurin, two brothers, volunteer to be a rearguard against an endless army to protect the retreating king. The brothers stand alone against a raging horde, giving way step by step until they reached a stream where there was only a small pass to get across. There, Tolkien writes, "they stood and gave way no more."
The enemy swarms about them as the brothers slay foe after foe. Huor falls with an arrow in his eye. And Hurin, alone and doomed, picks up the axe of a dead enemy and begins hewing heads one after another, shouting "day shall come again" with each strike. Eventually, the overwhelming numbers of the enemy take him. But they hold the line long enough to save countless lives.
It's a grim scene, to be sure, and doesn't seem to have much to do with football. But crap if I don't think of the 2015 Chiefs as a team in similar straights. They fought, then they fought, then they fought some more. They lost player after player after player, and eventually found themselves against a mostly-healthy Patriots squad at Foxboro. In freaking January. Doom was as inevitable as the setting sun. They were missing, quite literally, their two best players on offense and their best player on defense. The enemy was advancing, and defeat was certain.
But still, even to the end, the Chiefs FOUGHT. They made the Patriots earn every stinking inch of it. Yes, they came up short, just like those brothers. But there was glory to be had in the fight.
And that's what I'll remember from 2015. I can't remember the last Chiefs team that had the kind of fight we saw this season. They were not going away quietly, no matter what. And I will go to my grave believing that this Chiefs team was a lucky break or two (Maclin's injury, a couple of dropped picks, etc) from doing something really, really special.
Anyway, that might be the longest introduction of all time. But I will always, always, always remember this season. And so, since we're officially in the offseason (as far as the Chiefs are concerned) and the offseason ALWAYS involves lists, we're going to talk about the 10 best "moments" of the year.
Now, some ground rules... for me, a "moment" is just that... a moment. So I'm going to try my very best to parse down each great moment to a single (or several single) second (or, you know, seconds) in time. So, saying something like "Charcandrick West's unexpected emergence" is just way to broad. As far as other ground rules go... yeah, that's pretty much it.
So here's where you come in; I want nominations. Many of you fine folk on Twitter have given ideas, but I want to pick from as wide a group as possible. So shoot a nomination in the comments and it will be considered. I'll make a list and pick my favorite 10. Then we'll talk about those in a two-part column, because there's no way one column will be able to contain all I'll want to say (and gif, and make pictures of) these moments.
Here are the nominees so far, presented in no particular order:
- Jeremy Maclin breaks the no WR touchdown streak
- Marcus Peters gets a pick on his first career snap
- Alex Smith stuns the world slinging bombs against Buffalo
- Tyvon Branch's fumble return TD
- Jah Reid meets Von Miller
- Marcus Peters picks off what would be Manning's record-breaking pass
- Dee Ford's multi-sack game
- The Mile High Meltdown (about as broad as it gets, but c'mon, that's gotta be in there)
- Eric Berry returns
- Spencer Ware trucks (insert player here)
- Alex Smith to Avant miracle play vs. New England
- Peyton Manning gets benched
- Derrick Johnson sets the Chiefs tackle record
- Peters seals the win vs. the Ravens with a pick-six
- Playoff win
- Andy Reid dabbing
I want to hear what those on Twitter have missed in the comments, as well as your best case why your moment should be included. I'll pick the top 10 and get rolling on it immediately (I feel like I owe you fine folk after my move-induced absence. The move went well, by the way. The wife and kids love the new place).
I'm looking forward to reminiscing on this season, here and in the next two columns. This was a season worth remembering. It's painful that had to end. But man, was it fun watching the Chiefs hold the night at bay for longer than we ever thought possible.
Here's to a great season. Now give me all the great moments!