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The Chiefs team of a generation

In his introductory piece for Arrowhead Pride, Ron Kopp explains how his Chiefs fandom grew to its peak and culminated in an all-time era.

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It’s funny being a young Kansas City Chiefs fan. For a while, I thought I had missed out on the greatest periods in franchise history.

My family sure didn’t.

My grandfather began his investment in season tickets in 1968, the year before their second Super Bowl appearance and their only championship. He stayed all 82 minutes and 40 seconds, an NFL record, to see the double-overtime playoff loss to Miami on Christmas Day. My parents didn’t miss a game in the 1990s. They were as much a part of the epic Arrowhead moments, like drawing a warning from the ref for being too loud for John Elway, as they were a part of the low points, like the 1995 and 1997 playoff losses despite being 16-0 combined at home in the corresponding regular seasons. The Dick Vermeil era was during my early childhood, but I hadn’t quite understood the greatness of that Al Saunders offense with Priest, Tony Gonzalez, and the dominant offensive line.

I first fell in love with the Chiefs in the Herm Edwards and Todd Haley eras. My first favorite player was Larry Johnson, and I didn’t even see him at his best. I loved Jared Allen so much that I got his jersey for Christmas, only for the team to ship him away before the beginning of the next season. I was there for Tony Gonzalez’s record-breaking touchdown catch, but my young fandom was crushed and couldn’t get over trading him away. The most exciting part of the first three years of my Chiefs fanaticism was Tyler Thigpen — I will never forget when he threw, caught and ran for a touchdown in the same game (and then proceeded to blow a 24-3 lead at home).

I grew up thinking the Chiefs franchise was a joke.

Things got better with Jamaal Charles, and they proceeded to win the division in 2010, but success again fleeted quickly. The joke lived on with a 2-14 season in 2012 that resulted in a new general manager, a new head coach, and the No. 1 overall selection in a draft that had no quarterbacks worthy of anything close to the first pick.

Then Andy Reid and John Dorsey came and Alex Smith was traded. I was there for the first home win of the new regime vs. Dallas, and the second of nine wins in a row to start the inaugural season. The campaign went south after that (I don’t want to talk about Indy), but I felt confident as a Chiefs fan for the first time in my life. 2014 was highlighted by the Monday Night beatdown of the Patriots. 2015 was a whacky roller coaster of a season that included 11 wins in a row, the last one being the first playoff win since 1994. 2016 was as promising as any in my life, but a holding call ended that run and surprisingly did not result in the Arrowhead chair in front of me being broken. I loved No. 11, but I knew we needed to find the future.

The Chiefs then drafted Patrick Mahomes II on my 19th birthday. I jumped around my room with my best friend and my dad like the Chiefs had won the Super Bowl.

I watched 2017 with tempered excitement and almost didn’t go to what appeared to be a winnable home playoff game vs. Tennessee because of past experiences of inevitable disappointment. We all know that feeling, and we all felt it that night. Chiefs fans were furious, calling for the wrong peoples’ heads and not understanding the factor that will change moving forward.

Then 2018 happened. Mahomes was the clear MVP front-runner all year long, the offense set numerous records, and Super Bowl aspirations were justified. The home playoff game curse was broken, and Arrowhead Stadium hosted the AFC Championship for the first time. The Chiefs were favored to advance over the great New England Patriots. The ensuing game was an instant classic and probably the greatest game to ever be played on that field, with the Chiefs picking Brady off to win th—

“Offsides, #55 Defense”

Heart broken. A coin flip later and it was the same old feeling. The same disappointment leaving the stadium as 2016, 2017 and now 2018…

Or was it?

I understood what my favorite team had become: a legitimate Super Bowl contender with an elite quarterback, a team that others aspire to look like, a smart betting choice to win the 2019 championship. The disappointment became easier to swallow once I realized I was watching the beginning of the most significant era in Chiefs franchise history. Finally, I can see what generations of Kansas City’s fans and my family did before.

My main point is that I’m a diehard Chiefs fan, just like I know you likely are if you’re reading this. I arrive early on Sunday mornings to tailgate just like you, I bellow out “CHIIIIEEEEEFFFFFSSS” at the end of the national anthem just like you, and I scream until my lungs hurt on third down, just like you.

For some personal info, this is my longtime girlfriend, Andrea, and me. I’ll be a junior at the Henry Bloch School of Management at UMKC in the fall. I coach eighth grade football, and am excited for my first crack at being an offensive play caller this season.

I’m excited to communicate with fellow Chiefs fans through Arrowhead Pride, and I’m always willing to chat on Twitter @Ron_Kopp. Thanks for reading.

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