Growing up in Colorado Springs, CO in the 1960’s, you’d think I’d be a Denver Broncos fan considering the Broncos were the only professional sports team in my entire time zone (not counting the Denver Rockets of the now-defunct ABA with their colorful basketball). The Broncos never attracted me as a fan mainly because they were terrible during the ‘60s having never posted a winning record during the entire decade, their brightest star was RB Floyd Little but do you remember any of their QBs (i.e: Steve Tensi or Marlin Briscoe)? I was simply indifferent to the Broncos mainly for 2 reasons; 1) collecting baseball cards I was much more of a baseball fan and 2) I was a Chicago Bears fan because my mother grew up with their punter Bobby Joe Green in Bartlesville, OK, and it didn’t hurt that they had legends Papa Bear Halas, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.
When the NFL and AFL merged, I was too young to understand the full ramifications, such as the possibility of the Chicago Bears actually coming to Denver to play the Broncos, the Bears seemed larger than life and the Broncos seemed so little league. But that reality happened during the 1971 season. Imagine my excitement as an 11 year old when my mother told us she had arranged for us to not only go to the Bears / Broncos game on Dec 5, 1971 but that Bobby Joe Green was ‘hosting’ us and that we’d get to go to the team hotel and meet some players and then sit with the Bears families & guests in the visiting team seating section at Mile High. Such anticipation, my brothers and I couldn’t wait!!!
One of my fondest childhood memories is standing with Mr. Green in the lobby of the team hotel and then seeing Dick Butkus come down an escalator off in the distance, I leaned over and said to my brother, "there’s Dick Butkus (who I had recognized from football cards), he’s the meanest man in the whole-wide world". We didn’t get to meet Mr. Butkus but I do remember shaking hands with QB Jack Concannon, LB Doug Buffone and Mr. Green’s special teams mate PK Mac Percival. What an absolute thrill to see these players in real life. And then we went to the game ….. sadly, I have very few memories of the game itself because the entire experience was ruined for us.
The visiting team seating section were great seats, close to the field behind the visitor’s bench. Unfortunately, all the Bronco season ticket holders surrounding us knew that we were there to root for their opponent and they treated us accordingly, to a point of verbal ABUSE. I had never in my life witnessed such abhorrent behavior nor heard such language and threats. I remember asking my mother during the game, "why are these people so mean to us, we didn’t do anything to them." Even as an 11 year old I realized what inappropriate behavior it was, I walked into Mile High that day indifferent to the Broncos and I walked out a bona-fide Bronco hater, just because of their fans.
My parents divorced in early 1973 and my mother moved my brothers and me to a crazy named town called Prairie Village, Kansas, a far cry from staring at Pikes Peak my entire childhood. But what a GREAT year to move to Kansas City, the year Royals Stadium opened and hosted the All-Star game. As huge baseball fans, my mother took us to as many Royals games as financially possible and we were all hooked. To this day, my older brother is the biggest Royals fan I know. The crowning glory of our inaugural baseball season was attending the All-Star game and seeing my favorite player Johnny Bench (also an Oklahoma native) hit a monstrous home run. It was a larger than life stage seeing such legends of the game in person; Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, Yaz, Rod Carew & Catfish Hunter to name just a few, all players I idolized from my baseball cards. I still don’t know how my mother was able to get tickets but I can never thank her enough.
Loving the excitement of Royals Stadium, I was very anxious to experience Arrowhead that fall. And you wouldn’t believe who was scheduled to come to KC for a Monday night game on Nov 12, 1973, coincidently enough Bobby Joe Green and his Chicago Bears. My second NFL game was the complete opposite experience from my first two years earlier in Mile High. The Chiefs fans were welcoming and gracious to the Bears visiting section. All I saw that night was friendly competitive spirit cheering on a Chiefs win. Walking out of Arrowhead that night, I was already converted to being a Chiefs fans, I wanted to be a part of what I had just experienced. As a Colorado native Bronco-hater, it seems like destiny to move to KC and become a division rival Chiefs-lover. After the 1973 season and a 14 year career, Bobby Joe Green retired so my interest in the Bears waned as my NFL attention shifted squarely to the Chiefs.
During the Royals down years, the Chiefs took over as my favorite sports team and my devotion has done nothing but grow. Living in North Carolina hasn’t detoured our commitment to the Chiefs, my wife is a KC native so she shares the passion. We subscribe to the NFL ticket to never miss a game and we try to attend at least one game a year. Last year we were fortunate to attend 3 incredible games: 1) back in KC opening week-end for the thrilling comeback OT win against the Chargers, 2) last play of the game winning FG against the Panthers in Charlotte and 3) the Eric Berry game in Atlanta. So far thankfully we have been treated well in visiting stadiums as we proudly sport our Chiefs jerseys, my wife in EB 29 and me DJ 56. We’ll see if that trend continues when we attend the NY (football) Giants game at the Meadowlands in November with our dear friends Kim & Barry who just happen to be Chiefs season ticket holders.
So ‘How did I become a Chiefs fan?’, the simple answer: because the Chiefs have the BEST fans in the NFL. GO CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rob King – Raleigh, NC