Any given Sunday.
Sometimes it’s just not your day.
It’s a game of inches.
It’s only a game.
There’s always next year.
Cliches. Mindless cliches. Things we’ve heard so many times they’ve lost virtually all meaning to us. Remember the last time you had a rough stretch, and someone inevitably told that “things can only get better from here?” Or how about “it’s going to be all right?” Heh, maybe you had a boss who was fond of such sayings like “if you don’t have time to do it right, how will you have time to do it over.”
We hear a lot of cliches in football. Part of that is because sports are, by nature, an emotional thing, and emotional things lead to cliches. Birth, death, marriage, children, friendship... all of these things have a million cliches that go along with them. It is what it is (hey, look what I did there!).
I wish I could say something that would make you feel better today (hey, there’s another one!). But I very, very likely cannot. I actually logged off Twitter for a while, after a perhaps too soon tweet about house money resulted in multiple people telling me, in slightly different language, to uh... please not say that. Emotions were so raw, people were so angry. It just felt best to get away from it all for a bit.
And I get it. I really do. That was just awful. Of all the playoff failures (and at this point, the list has become almost comically long), this one was among the worst. Facing a far inferior team, at home, with a huge lead... the Chiefs managed to, well, Chief. And I HATE that expression. But at a certain point they’ve earned it, right? How many times have we seen this story? All too often, across decades and GM’s and coaches and even owners. There’s just something about the Chiefs, it seems.
So I sit here, late on a Saturday night, having put my children to bed after a rather long car ride home (a car ride in which Mrs. MNchiefsfan, ever the champion, sympathetically listened to me sadly laying out each thing that went wrong over the course of that game. A lengthy list, it was), trying to figure out what to write to a group of people who mean a great deal to me. It’s losses like this that lead to that feeling, by the way. When you’ve shared a tragedy with someone (even a silly, pretend tragedy like your favorite team losing in agonizing fashion), there’s a bond that is much stronger than sharing some good times. Yay us, I suppose?
I’d love to make you feel better. I really would. But right now, I know many of you are having some serious doubts about the Chiefs as a whole (and hey, who can blame you?). Is Andy Reid not capable of winning in the playoffs? Is a new quarterback REALLY going to solve the problems we’ve had at the end of every season? Is Bob Sutton the right man for the job?
I wrote yesterday that I felt like the Chiefs were playing with house money, because regardless of the outcome, I was excited for 2018. Isn’t it just the most Chiefs thing ever for them to find a way to lose in such agonizing fashion that it took that feeling away from me a little?
I’m not here to write about Andy (we’ll get there), or Alex and Pat (we’ll get there too), or Bob Sutton and the defense (you guessed it, we’ll get there). I started off this weekend talking about feelings, and that’s where we’re going to leave off. Because that game... that game left an ugly, ugly feeling in my stomach.
Make no mistake, the Chiefs are now known as chokers. The 38-10 game, the all-field-goal loss to the Steelers, and now the Forward Progress Game (or the 21-3 game, depending on which awful thing you want to feel) have cemented that. The rest of the league, and the rest of the league’s fans, are absolutely viewing the Chiefs as a team that is no threat whatsoever to win the Super Bowl in 2018. Because Chiefs. What was once a joke among fans here is now a joke among, well, everyone.
And guys, that’s annoying. Really annoying. It’s HARD to cheer for a team that you feel like is going to let you down in the end, especially when they keep coming up with increasingly complicated and bizarre ways of doing so. It’s HARD listening to Steelers fans or Broncos fans mock the Chiefs endlessly for their postseason failures. And it’s HARD to let any level of good play in the regular season get you psyched up when what has always come at the end is a gut punch loss in one form or another.
I get that. And I’m not going to try and talk you out of feeling all of those things. Because hey, I do too.
But I want to go back to those cliches. They’re annoying for the most part, to be sure. But you want to know the reason a lot of cliches will never, ever, ever die? Because most of them are rooted in truth. Remember when you were 16 and you HATED it when your parents said “you are who you hang out with?” Well, crap if that isn’t just about the most true thing you could ever say. And the same is true with most cliches. The fact that they’re overused doesn’t make them less true. It just makes us more jaded, unfortunately.
But I have nothing to offer you except overused truth today. So let me just tell you...
Any given Sunday and NFL team really can win or lose.
Sometimes it really is just not your day.
It really is a game of inches.
It really is only a game.
There really is always next year.
That last one is the beauty of sports. Tomorrow’s outcome isn’t necessarily tainted by today’s failure. There’s always another shot (well, unless your team shuts down or moves, but hey, at least THAT’S not a concern. yay?).
I’m going to take a step back for a few days before I start really diving into the film (at least that’s the plan. I’m not very good at taking vacations from this job). I just want to say, with the Chiefs season at a close, that this season has been the most rewarding one I’ve had yet writing here. I appreciate every one of you, even those of you I spar with about this or that football issue. And I can’t wait to start getting excited about football again, the moment we’re all ready to leave behind the bad feelings and the cliches.
Because it really is a great, great game, and one loss will never, ever change that for me.