Being a fan of a sports team requires an insane amount of dedication and resiliency. Often, it even requires some self-deception. Above all else, fans want to believe in their guys — that they are better than everyone else.
That’s the beauty of sports — in the offseason, hope springs eternal. A true football fan has the ability to convince himself or herself that an undrafted free agent will put up a thousand receiving yards and make the Pro Bowl in his rookie year.
This is especially true of Kansas City Chiefs fans.
Perhaps more than other fanbases, Chiefs fans believe in their players’ ability to outperform expectations. The relationship that Kansas City has with its professional athletes (and their teams) is special. It’s more than a game to KC. It’s a community.
It doesn't matter where you were born, how you talk or what you look like. When you play for the Chiefs, you are adopted as a native son of the city.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was born in Texas. Tight end Travis Kelce is from Ohio. But you can’t show me one Chiefs fan who doesn’t consider them to be Kansas Citians.
They’re our guys.
That’s what makes it so difficult when a player (like Tony Gonzalez or Tyreek Hill) decides they want to leave. They were one of us — and now they want out?
Sometimes, it’s hard to comprehend, but that’s the business of football. Not every player wants to stay in the family forever.
That’s part of the reason why choosing a Chiefs jersey can be quite the minefield. Each season, the instinct is to go out and snatch up the hottest new rookie jersey. But a few years later, Chiefs fans can find themselves packing up the Jon Baldwin and Peyton Hillis jerseys to drop off at Goodwill. Everyone wants their jersey to stand the test of time — but nobody knows what the future might hold.
Since joining Arrowhead Pride, this is one of the most subjective things I’ve written about.
Out of the entire pantheon of Chiefs legends, it’s nearly impossible to extract five “correct” answers. So much of why we choose a certain player's jersey has to do with our own story — and who we were when that player stepped into our lives.
So... spoiler alert: I’m going to get this wrong. Nevertheless, here is my list of the top five Chiefs jerseys:
5. Your childhood hero’s jersey — or your all-time favorite Chiefs player
There is no better way to reconnect with the pure love of the game that you felt as a child than to wear your favorite player’s jersey.
Every fan can name the player they first loved. Depending on a fan’s age (and how old they were when they first fell in love with the Chiefs) the specific player can vary a lot. If you were a kid like me, chances are that it was a player that somebody in your family (your father, mother, brother, uncle, etc.) already liked. They might have talked the player up until they were larger than life — and bulletproof.
For me, this player was running back Christian Okoye.
When I was a small child, Okoye seemed like he was the largest and most powerful human being on the planet — a veritable freight train who could shed would-be tacklers like flies bouncing off his solid steel frame as he screamed down the tracks.
If you asked 8-year-old me for the name of the best football player of all time, I would naively declare without hesitation, “The Nigerian Nightmare.” It was — and to this day, still is — the best nickname in the history of professional sports.
Okoye was my favorite, but yours may be completely different. Perhaps it was Derrick Thomas, Willie Lanier, Priest Holmes or Jamaal Charles.
4. An AFL Chiefs jersey
Maya Angelou once wrote, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
The best way to prepare for the future is to learn from the past. Most people view this idea as learning from your mistakes — but you can also learn from your victories.
The Chiefs have been a winning franchise since the beginning, winning both an AFL championship and a Super Bowl within their first decade of existence.
What better way is there to celebrate the history of our team than wearing the jersey of a 1960s Chiefs player?
Besides the joy of rocking some sweet old-school threads, wearing an older player's jersey also gives younger fans the opportunity to connect with fans from a previous generation, learning firsthand what it was like to watch these legends play.
Plus, you can’t tell me that Lenny the Cool didn’t look fly as apple pie when he was rocking that all-white long-sleeved jersey.
3. A customized kicker or interior offensive lineman's jersey
When I suggest people should buy the jersey of a kicker or an interior offensive lineman, I’m only being a little sarcastic.
When you walk into Arrowhead Stadium, you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of Mahomes and Kelce jerseys flooding the stands. So you can break up the monotony by sporting a customized jersey of a player who doesn’t always get the love they deserve.
Some of the most enjoyable names to put on the back of a jersey right now are kickers and interior linemen.
Here are a few ideas:
- Harrison Butker: ButtKicker.com
- Creed Humphrey: #CreedIsGood
- Trey Smith: Crosby Killer
Spin back against @TreySmith73 at your own peril pic.twitter.com/ekVl3obCUn— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) December 12, 2021
2. Andy Reid’s number 64 BYU jersey
Andy Reid— Random College Athletes (@RandomAthletess) June 3, 2021
BYU, Offensive Tackle 1978-1980 pic.twitter.com/UYH0dhAHjK
OK... so this is cheating. This isn’t a Chiefs jersey.
But just imagine being in a group of friends tailgating at Arrowhead. Through the haze of smoke and fire, a figure suddenly emerges from the cornhole sets and middle-aged men who are still learning how to throw a spiral — like Ray Kinsella learning from Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams.
At first, the group is taken aback by the sight, because the jersey they are seeing doesn’t belong to either of the teams that are playing that day. At first, they may even think it’s one of those guys. (You know who I’m talking about: the person who owns only one sports shirt, so they wear it to every sporting event — even though it’s San Jose Sharks hockey jersey).
The group starts to mock the person in the odd jersey, but then the realization sets in: they’ve seen this jersey before. They just don’t remember where they saw it. Then they see it’s a BYU jersey — one that says “Reid” on the back.
As the person passes through the rows of other tailgaters, they are given a king's welcome. You see Ron Kopp Jr. and Kristian Gumminger, who happen to be there — high-five them and hand them ice-cold beers from their coolers. They take pictures and tweet them for everyone to see. Pete Sweeney sees it and retweets the photo.
Next thing you know, NFL Network personality Peter Schrager is asking them to be a guest on “Good Morning Football.”
Man... wouldn’t you like to be the person wearing that jersey?
1. Patrick Mahomes jersey
Some people might call this a basic selection. After all, a lot of people already own a Mahomes jersey, right?
But those people are wrong.
There is nothing basic about wearing the jersey of the best Chiefs player of all time. In the 1990s, every Chicago Bulls fan had a Michael Jordan jersey. They might also have had a Scottie Pippin jersey — but you can be darn sure they had a number 23 in their closet first.
Even if Mahomes never throws another pass for as long as he lives, he’s already done enough to make sure you’ll never be mocked for strutting down Arrowhead’s aisles with his name on your back. Heck... while you’re at it, why not add a little bit of extra swag by making it a Pro Bowl jersey?
It’s actually a scientific fact that you feel cooler and more confident when you’re wearing a Mahomes jersey.
Don’t believe me? Buy one — and see for yourself.
Which of these jerseys would you own?
This poll is closed
Childhood Chiefs hero
AFL Chiefs player
Custom kicker or offensive lineman
Andy Reid BYU