The Kansas City Chiefs were obliterated in the Super Bowl.
The Run It Back Tour burst into flames in the final game of the season. The Chiefs couldn’t pass protect to save their lives (or the life of their otherworldly quarterback). Both sides of the football — and key players no less — lacked the discipline and attention to detail required to win a championship. Personal foul penalties, offsides on field goal attempts, key drops — this team wasn’t good enough. Only one team looked as though they had been in this moment before, and it wasn’t the defending champions.
There is no doubt about it. But the burden of having the best player in the world and having a legitimate chance at hoisting a Lombardi trophy every year comes with heartache — and a lot of it. You’re going to feel this more times than you’re not in Patrick Mahomes’ eventual first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame career.
This probably isn’t the last Super Bowl the Chiefs will lose in the next 15 years. Tom Brady has now won a Super Bowl roughly a third of the years of his implausible career. That fact hurts differently — knowing how difficult it will be for the most talented football player we’ve ever seen to overcome (fair or not) the head-to-head matchup that earned Brady more titles than any NFL organization.
Expectations are always going to be there now.
The Chiefs are already the betting favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl. AFC championships aren’t enough. Losing in the Super Bowl is a failed season — and you shouldn’t want it any other way. It speaks to what you have here. You’ve signed up for different kinds of pain — but also different levels of elation. You’re no longer the self-deprecating losers with infamous playoff losses and obscure stats in failed seasons and early exits. Your pain will happen in late January — and in some cases early February. It should be embraced — because the payoff is sweeter than the excruciating losses that are inevitable while the organization’s tires spin for decades.
Winning a Super Bowl is difficult — and you need some luck on your side. You saw that on Sunday, as the Chiefs rolled out a completely decimated offensive line trying to protect a quarterback playing through turf toe. Attrition is a major contributing factor in a team’s ability to sustain success. Just ask the San Francisco 49ers.
The hard part is putting yourself in a position to win that final game every year. The Chiefs have been to three straight AFC championship games. They will be there again several times. They will be in the Super Bowl several times as well. And they will win some — probably most they play in — but not every single one.
I’ll choose this pain every time. The hopes and dreams of Chiefs fans for generations are finally realized — the Chiefs are actually contenders.
And now we all better understand firsthand the burden that comes with it.