From the FanPosts. Love this! So many great stories ... -Joel
Ironically, my fandom all started in church (I'll explain why that is ironic later). My parents knew a man there named Roger. He taught their Sabbath School class (Seventh Day Adventists). Well, one day Roger asked me if I would like to go to Kansas City with him to see his nephew play for the Chiefs. I guess he knew I loved sports (or maybe he saw something in me [queue Gus Fring voice for Breaking Bad fans]). Anyways, I had never heard of his nephew before as he was just in his second year. Turns out he's just some random guy who will end up being a first ballot Hall of Famer and GREATEST TIGHT END OF ALL TIME, TONY FREAKING GONZALEZ! I was only 11 years old at the time, so of course I didn't know how big of a deal this was, but as he got better and better and I got older and older, it became pretty apparent how unbelievable it was.
So, we drive to Kansas City from Nashville with Roger, and Tony's father and stepmother. It takes something like 13 hours or so because his uncle likes to stop every hour or two to look at some historic sight or to look at the flowers at a particular place but it actually made the trip seem faster. So, we get to Kansas City and finally get to meet up with Tony. I get to go in his house and play some games with him and then we go out to eat and do the whole thing. He asks me if I like country music because I'm from Tennessee, and of course I say no. Extremely likable guy.
The next day, I remember we go to the mall (without Tony) and I'm wearing Chiefs gear and I remember just how nice everyone was to me just because I had on Chiefs gear. There were so many times when people would be walking past me and saying "Go Chiefs!" or something similar. I had never experienced that level of passion coupled with kindness from a group of individuals. It was like I was accepted as one of them. And for someone who loved football but didn't really have an NFL team (The Titans moved to Nashville the very year this story takes place) that was everything to me. I was instantly hooked on the Chiefs.
As if that didn't seal the deal for my Chiefs fandom, the game that I end up going to was just some measly Sunday night football game against the Seahawks. I don't know how many people remember the Seahawks game from 1998 but let me remind you: http://www.arrowheadpride.com/2016/10/4/13162026/18-years-ago-a-rain-soaked-chiefs-game-created-this-iconic-derrick-thomas-photo
Now some people might say, "aw man that sucks" but it was the best time I have ever had at a football game. The fans were incredible. So loud. So passionate. So damn funny. I remember people running onto the field and the police officers just falling on their asses trying to catch them on a rain soaked field. It was a blast.
So, after the game we get to go down in the locker room and Tony tells me he will get me one players autograph, who will it be? I guess in my ignorant youth and blissfulness I just blurted out... Andre Rison! You know, this guy.
Not getting him to get Derrick Thomas' autograph for me remains one of my greatest regrets. Also, one little tidbit that I figured Chiefs fans would appreciate: I saw Elvis Grbac outside the locker room and got his autograph and I remember one fan told me that the value of the hat just went down and I should burn it. Classic.
So, that's my story. I got to meet Tony a few more times through the years and have come back to KC a few times as well, but nothing compares to that very first experience. And now 19 years later, what started out in church has become my church.