As has been well documented the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Colts 44-45 on Saturday January 4th, 2014. As a Chiefs fan this was a heartbreaking loss. I had to work from 2-10pm that Saturday night. I turned off all score alerts, all text messages, any and all notifications that I might receive via my cell phone about the game. I told my family and friends to not tell me anything about the game. I was going to watch it that night on NFL Game Rewind. I had only 2 hours left to go in my shift when I saw a customer with a KC beanie walk in. My heart plummeted. I knew he was going to give away game details. I quickly ran through different scenarios in my head, trying to figure out the best way to avoid learning anything from him. My first thought was to straight up say, “Hey man I haven’t seen the game, I’m a KC fan, please don’t tell me anything yet.” But I thought by bringing it up this would put me in more jeopardy. This customer wouldn’t be able to stop himself from saying something along the lines of “Brace yourself” or unconsciously a big smile would spread across his face. So I took the other route and played it cool and didn’t bring it up at all. He had come in with a friend and they both came up to the checkout line. His friend went first. I asked his date of birth as I must with all customers as I work at a liquor store. He answered, at which point the KC fan made some really “clever” joke about him being old. This is when it went bad for me. The friend responded “At least I’m not a KC fan.” The KC fan’s face dropped and he muttered “We’ll get ‘em next year.” “FUUCK! Damn it, they lost!” I screamed in my head. All my preparation, hours of not checking my phone, all went right down the drain. I spent the remainder of my shift sulking. I didn’t know the details but I knew they had lost. I would still watch the game as I’m a fan. I knew it would be a disappointing watch but little did I know the misery in store for me.
I have never witnessed the Chiefs win a playoff game since I’ve been a fan of theirs starting in 1997. I began my life as an Oilers fan, but when Bud Adams moved the team to Tennessee following the 1996 season and changed their name to the Titans, I had to change my allegiance. Yes that’s right, I was an Oilers fan on January 3, 1993 and here it was 21years and 1 day later and I’m a Chiefs fan. Life sucks sometimes, really really sucks.
Fortunately for my sanity, I decided that I didn’t need to watch the full game telecast as I already knew we had lost (I know. I say “we” like I’m part of the team). I would just watch the condensed version of the game on NFL Game Rewind, with all the dead time in between snaps taken out. To put it mildly the game proceeded in a fashion I never expected. When Andrew Luck was intercepted at the beginning of the 3rd quarter and the Chiefs quickly scored a Touchdown to go up 38-10, I was in utter disbelief. No No No! This is the Oilers vs the Bills all over again. I can’t handle this, not again, NOT AGAIN! Any normal fan would be in shock and think, “How is it possible for them to lose when they are up by 28 points in the 3rd quarter?” But unlike any normal fan, I remember Bubba McDowell running back an interception for a Touchdown in the 3rd quarter against the Bills, to put the Oilers up 35-3. I remember my naïve vulnerable fan ego swelling to outrageous proportions and wondering how badly we would beat our opponent in the next round of the playoffs. The rest of that game is when I learned the hard way how horrible sports could be. How painful, crushing and heartbreaking it sometimes was to be a fan. And now, now, to my utter horror, it was all happening again. I couldn’t even commiserate with anyone. What other fan out there was on the losing side of the two greatest comebacks in NFL history?
I continued watching the Chiefs game, which was now my second greatest act of masochism. My greatest act of masochism had happened 11 years and 1 day prior. I was home from college during Christmas break and flipping through the channels aimlessly. I stumbled upon ESPN Classics just as they were starting to show “The Greatest Comeback in NFL History.” I could have changed the channel; I should have changed the channel. Why didn’t I change the damn channel? No, instead I watched the whole game. I had blocked most of it from my memory, but it all came flooding back, the exhilaration of the first half, the 2nd quarter especially, but there was the knowledge the awful knowledge of what was about to ensue. The demented part of the whole viewing experience is that I kept hoping things would turn out differently this time. Why couldn’t the Oilers defense prevent Frank Reich from throwing one of those TD passes? (Did you know that Frank Reich at one point held the distinction of leading the greatest comeback in college football history and NFL history, and he was a back up QB for both games?) Was it inconceivable that Greg Montgomery wouldn’t fumble the snap on that field goal attempt in the 4th quarter? Did Warren Moon have to throw an interception at the beginning of overtime? No matter how hard I hoped or how loud I shouted at the TV it all happened the same way again. There is nothing like sports to make a person go insane and scream and shout at a replay of a game that had happened a decade earlier.
As my second greatest act of masochism continued to unfold I was able to retain some semblance of sanity until one play took place. Early in the 4th quarter Donald Brown fumbled the ball for only the second time in his career. The ball squirted out of his hands, bounced off the turf, ricocheted off the helmet of a Colt’s player directly into Andrew Luck’s arms. Luck then ran forward and leaped into the end zone for a touchdown. At this point I started to cackle like a lunatic. What other course of action, logical or insane, did I have? I immediately knew that play would be shown over and over again for years and decades to come. The wound that Frank Reich and the Bills had sliced open so long ago, was now being lacerated with razor blades and dosed with salt by Andrew Luck.
The Chiefs game mercifully ended as I laid a shorn husk of a man in the fetal position. An occasional maniacal laugh would escape from the recesses of my soul. The game haunted my dreams that night and the following. It’s taken me all week to build up the strength to write about it all. Getting it all down though painful has helped the healing process.
To the Oilers fans who have read this, I’m sorry for dredging up these painful memories, but at least we can console each other in knowing life goes on. To the Chiefs fans who have read this, I’m sorry I have brought my cursed fandom to your ranks. To the 3 of you out there who were once Oilers fans and are now Chiefs fans, you are not alone. The only problem is, I’m pretty sure I am the only one and I’ve never felt so lonely and all alone.