Many Kansas City Chiefs fans are pessimistic when it comes to the team’s chances in the post-season. And for good reason. Their record in the playoffs has been far less than stellar. A fact that sports media likes to remind Chiefs fans any time they make it into the playoffs. This just adds to the fans’ negativity.
I must admit, I am one of those pessimistic Chiefs fans. I try to stay positive, but I’ve seen the post-season collapse too many times. Because I’ve witnessed the team lose in heart-breaking fashion, time and time again, it has been difficult for me to have any faith that the Chiefs could have any success in January.
I have been a Kansas City Chiefs fan my whole life but only started following them seriously since 1993. That year, the great Joe Montana came to Kansas City via trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The hope was that “Joe Cool” could reverse the playoff woes the team had experienced since winning the Super Bowl back in 1970. A winner of four Super Bowls, Montana made the Chiefs competitive in his first season in KC. He made me believe that the Chiefs could win it all. Montana led Kansas City to the AFC Championship, only to lose to the Buffalo Bills. But I had faith that they would get another chance very soon.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs did not find much playoff success for many years following the ’93 season. Three different times, the Chiefs finished the regular season with a 13-3 record (1995, 1997, and 2003). In those seasons, they were the number one seed in the playoffs and had home-field advantage throughout the post-season. This should have tipped the scales in their favor, but sadly, the Chiefs did not win a single playoff game.
In fact, the Chiefs did not win another playoff game until the 2015 season. For 22 years, Kansas City was immediately eliminated from the playoffs. Though, a win in the 2015 Wild Card Game against the Houston Texans gave fans some hope. The prize for that win was a trip to Foxboro to play the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round. The Chiefs were competitive, but they lost that game.
Over the years, I witnessed so many embarrassing post-season losses, I truly doubted I’d ever see the Chiefs make a deep playoff run. Kansas City lost to teams I knew they were better than and it all played into the narrative that the Chiefs simply can’t win in the playoffs. A Super Bowl was always out of reach. I felt that my team was cursed.
But then last year happened. Patrick Mahomes, in his first year as a starter, led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game. Playing against the Patriots, the game did not seem too big for Mahomes. Yes, he started slow, but he rallied the team and they came ever so close to winning that game. Mahomes made me believe that perhaps the Chiefs playoff woes were finally over.
Of course, doubt crept back in again. It’s only natural to doubt when you follow a team that just can’t seem to get out of its own way. In the Divisional Round Game this year, the Chiefs got behind early against the Texans due to many mistakes. Here we go again, I thought. But then, they took control. From the second quarter on, the Chiefs dominated the Texans. Many fans announced on social media that the curse was broken. I was afraid to be over-confident.
The following week against the Titans, the Chiefs got behind early. The ghosts of playoffs past reared their ugly heads. I felt the collapse coming. But it never came. The Chiefs completely took over the game and imposed their will on the Titans.
I was asked many times last week how I would react if the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl. Honestly, I did not know how to respond. Maybe because I never thought I would see the Chiefs get there. I doubted it would ever happen.
Well, folks, I’m not ashamed to admit, when the game clock hit zero, I buried my face in my hands and I cried. For 5 minutes, that was all I could do. Twenty-six years of playoff suffering came pouring out of my body. One by one, my wife and two children came over to hug me. And then, arms raised, I stood up and yelled at the top of my lungs.
I still cannot believe it is happening. I am not even sure the full gravity of the situation has hit me yet. I am currently on vacation with my family at Disney World, so I am somewhat distracted. But after they are tucked in bed at night, I am on social media, soaking up the glory of Chiefs Kingdom’s celebration. Last night, I saw the sneak peek of the Chiefs players in their Super Bowl jerseys. It is truly surreal.
For almost 30 years I have been waiting for this moment. A moment I was convinced would never come. I know that the Chiefs still have another game to play and I absolutely want to see them win. I know the euphoria of an AFC Championship will fade as we get closer to the Super Bowl (and will probably be replaced with nervousness). But for right now, I am just appreciating this moment. The Kansas City Chiefs will play in the Super Bowl this year. An event I have waited my whole life to see.