Dear Patty, Trav, Tyrann, Hitch, Dustin and Harrison,
I know your teammates have chosen you as captains for the postseason, so I trust you to be sure they all get this message.
I’m an old man — more than twice as old as any of you. But I’m not writing to complain about how terrible it is that the Kansas City Chiefs haven’t won a championship in 50 years. I know you and your teammates already get a lot of guff about that — and that’s not fair. It’s not your fault.
Nor am I writing to tell you how important the next couple of games are. You don’t need me to tell you about that. You’ve all dreamed of moments like these ever since you were young — as young as I was when I cheered for Len Dawson, Willie Lanier and Johnny Robinson. But as Coach Reid says, you shouldn’t focus on that. Instead, focus on preparing for the next game. Listen to him. That’s brought you this far — and it can take you the rest of the way, too.
No... I’m only writing to tell you that whatever else you do this Sunday — and in what we all hope will be two games to follow — be sure to have some fun.
You’re entering a period that will help define your lives in the decades to come. Like Coach Reid, I’ve been around long enough to learn that when you look back on it, you’ll want to remember not only what you did, but how you went about doing it. That’s why Coach stresses family to you — not just because families depend upon (and support) each other, but because they have fun together.
So if there’s snow on the ground, slide in it — and throw some snowballs. If there’s shaving cream in someone’s locker, sneak some of it into their helmet. If you see a new dance move, demonstrate it for your teammates — or maybe figure out a way to incorporate it into a basketball shot on the goal in the locker room or a big-play celebration.
But I’ve been watching all of you. I’ve seen that you all already know how to have fun together. Just don’t let people convince you that it has to end just because the postseason is here. At each step of the process — especially on a trip to Miami — you’ll have more and more people surrounding you, trying to make you think this is all a Really Big Deal that Must Be Taken Seriously.
It’s not. It’s a kid’s game. So go out and have fun playing it.
I’m not saying this just because I want you to fondly remember this time in your lives — although I do. I’m also saying it because I’ve learned something else in all the decades I’ve spent on this planet— and all the years I’ve spent as a fan of the Chiefs: tightly-wound teams don’t tend to win championships.
Oh, sure... you’ve got to have a good team. But you are a good team. The way you have played during the second half of this season has proven that to anyone who has bothered to watch.
If you want to succeed in the postseason, however, you’ve got to stay loose.
None of you played for one of our beloved Chiefs coaches — although Dustin came close. Marty Schottenheimer knew how to coach a football team. Back in the early 1990s, he put some truly great ones on the field, assembling a long-term regular-season record any coach would admire.
But Marty was too wound up; he took things way too seriously. People like to say that Marty’s problem was that his offenses were never good enough to succeed in the playoffs — and that was certainly part of it. But Marty just didn’t know how to have a light moment — so when the postseason arrived, he didn’t know how to keep his team loose.
It’s not a coincidence that Marty’s best season came with Joe Montana at quarterback. (You all probably heard a lot about that when you made it to the AFC Championship last season). It wasn’t just that Joe was one of the greatest of all time — although he was. He also never took himself too seriously; he definitely knew how to have fun. But as hard as he tried, he couldn’t change the team’s culture all by himself.
But all of you have already done that. So keep doing it. Let it all go. Don’t think about the last 50 years. That’s for the fans and the media to worry about. Just focus on the next game... the next play... the next moment.
And have fun doing it.
I can’t guarantee that will lead you to the Super Bowl. As Joe said many times, the ball is shaped funny — and sometimes it bounces weird. But I can promise that whatever happens, we’ll still love you all — and in the years to come, you’ll remember it as the best time in your lives.