You earned this Super Bowl win, Kansas City Chiefs fans.
I feel I did, anyway.
My dad had season tickets in the 1970s – I’d open the top dresser drawer in his bedroom to look at them longingly every preseason – during some of the worst years to be a Chiefs fan.
I remember as a young teen holding my shoes up to the heating vent in the men’s room at halftime to save my toes. I made an engraving of the Chiefs vs. Vikings Super Bowl in 7th grade art class.
Then I spent the next 50 years growing up, starting a family, moving from place to place and tearing my hair out nearly every Sunday in autumn. I amazed my young son once by accurately predicting, to the point, a 38-3 Chiefs loss.
Yet despite all the heartache of lost seasons and quick, needless losses in rare playoff appearances, I kept hoping, kept searching out sports bars when we lived elsewhere, and kept paying for NFL TV subscriptions.
So, after moving back home in 2019 just in time for this incredible run of three Super Bowls in four years – two of them wins – yes, this is very special.
And every one of you fans owns a piece of this. You earned this with your time, your treasure and your torment.
Disappointingly, while most of my friends across the country were cheering me and the Chiefs on Sunday, one Facebook friend bizarrely accused me of living this “vicariously” – meaning through someone else.
No, sir. This is my life I’ve been living. This was my emotional investment, compounded annually by often unwarranted interest. We may not have taken the field, but we’ve suited up all these years. We’ve earned this. Many of us have the bruises borne of a half-century in the trenches to prove it.
Moreover, the Chiefs are the first to credit the loudest fans in the National Football League with helping them over the goal line.
I often wondered through the years if caring so much about something I had no control over was a blessing or a curse. I worried about handing it down. I once told a Chiefs beat-writer friend that I was thinking of giving up on the team. So very wisely, he counseled me to keep with it, if for nothing else than the very real father-son bonding it made for. Boy, was he right.
Not long after, the Chiefs hired Coach Andy Reid. I’d say the rest is history, but it isn’t just yet – it’s still going on in real time. It may go on and on, with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. And it’s more than we fans ever hoped for.
I needn’t have agonized so much. Investing your devotion to even something so seemingly frivolous as a sports team pays big dividends – in your family, your circle of friends and in your community. Living out-of-state for so many years, it was always a rush to see a Chiefs logo on a car or sweatshirt, and to share that fraternal nod or that friendly high-five with a total stranger in a strange land.
Now, on Wednesday, that shared community will come together downtown as one united faction to celebrate a second championship in four years – illustrating the tangible social and civic good that comes from being true to your team.
As with any form of love, there are ups and downs in the relationship between team and fan. But these ups make it all worthwhile – especially with the perspective of having lived through the downs. Together.
It’s a beautiful thing to care.