I’m a couple weeks late to the party — the The Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs Party — but only because the feeling has yet to sink in. Even after watching the whole game, one where the Chiefs seemed primed to lose until a point-scoring flurry at the very end, it didn’t feel like reality. I wrote a long blog beforehand predicting a 35-32 Chiefs loss, and my rational was as subjective as it could possibly be: good things are not supposed to happen to me (or my sports teams).
I watched with my family as last year’s season came to a close, a 37-31 overtime loss to the New England Patriots, who would ultimately go on to win the Super Bowl two weeks later against the Los Angeles Rams. Like I do seemingly every year, and with all of my favorite teams, I watched as the opposing team celebrated victory. It’s kind of a sick ritual I practice with myself, absorbing all the sports-fan pain and sports-fan heartache in hopes that it will make everything that much sweeter if (or when) my team is the one celebrating.
I think a lot of Chiefs fans internalized that moment — where Tom Brady earned the right to be AFC Champion… again — with the thought that the entire Chiefs’ organization had to feel it too, and with even more intensity. So the idea was last season’s loss to the Patriots would deliver relentless fuel to this season’s team. It’s the type of shit you can dream on, but even if it was true it wouldn’t guarantee victory. Every player on every football team plays the sport from the time they are a little kid with the goal of making it to college, and then making it to the pros, and then winning a Super Bowl. You can’t just wish it into reality.
I’m not going to give a play-by-play of the 2019-’20 Chiefs season, because we all know how it turned out. They started 4-0, Patrick Mahomes got hurt, they fell to 6-4, and then they didn’t lose another game for the rest of the season.
The more impressive narrative is what the Chiefs did during the playoffs. I was at work the day Kansas City was put in a 24-0 hole against the Houston Texans, and I remember feeling physically sick at the prospect that the season was going to end right then and there. But then Mahomes threw a touchdown pass to Damien Williams to make it 24-7; then he threw one to Travis Kelce to make it 24-14; then he threw another one to Kelce to make it 24-21; then he threw another another one to Kelce to give the Chiefs a 28-24 halftime lead. Yes I meant to put two another’s in that sentence. Kansas City went on to win 51-31.
Since I didn’t like the feeling of my team being on the brink of elimination to a clearly inferior opponent that they had no business losing to, I called off work for the AFC Championship against the Tennessee Titans. You know, that team of destiny that knocked off not only the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots, but who also the week before took out the Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens. Both on the road.
And just like the Texans game, the Chiefs went down by double digits early on — first 10-0, then 17-7. But just like against Houston, Mahomes found a way to put the Chiefs ahead by halftime. With about six minutes left in the half he threw a bullet to Tyreek Hill to make it 17-14, then with about 20 seconds remaining he scrambled for about 30 yards into the end zone in one of the most improbable plays I’ve ever seen. Kansas City went on to win that game 35-24.
By the time of the Super Bowl, I didn’t really know what to feel. On the one hand it was an accomplishment just to get there — since I’ve never seen the Chiefs make it that far — and on the other hand I was forced into the realization that the possibility exists of them losing the game. And since KC was only a 1- or 1.5-point favorite, that possibility was about as close to a coin-flip as it could’ve been.
There have been a million things written about the Super Bowl, and a million different clips online discussing it. Some have said it’s the start of the Mahomes Era, others credit head coach Andy Reid for finally getting the monkey off his back. There have been hot takes questioning the talent of 49ers quarterback Jimmy G, or how head coach Kyle Shannahan has in some ways been responsible for two Super Bowl collapses. So I’m not going to throw my lot in with what is already easily accessible to you.
Instead, what I’ll remember is the way the Chiefs won. For a third straight (playoff) game they trailed by double digits — 20-10, as late as midway through the 4th quarter — and ended up winning by double digits (31-20). I’ll remember who I was watching the game with, my mom and two brothers, who were there with me the year before when the season ended in heartbreaking fashion. I’m happy the Chiefs won, but I’m really happy the four of us got to share in a memory together.
That’s what was so special about this year’s team. My younger brother started following football more closely, and even though he adopted the Titans as his “favorite” team (for somewhat arbitrary reasons), he was pulling for the Chiefs when the games mattered the most. My older brother doesn’t really give a damn about football, or sports in general, but come Sunday he rooted for my favorite team. And my mom, who’s been there from the beginning, was there to enjoy the win as well.
Sports are and always have been my favorite distraction. As people in my life have come and gone, and as my years are quickly stacking up to the nice round number of 30, I can appreciate that the Chiefs have been there for me all the way. In a world where it’s increasingly difficult to be able to rely on much of anything, my sports teams have given me a constant. Football seasons like this just don’t come around very often.
So this is what I’ve got. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl, and I’m just so happy.