Kansas City Chiefs 34, Denver Broncos 28
I took the hour-long drive to work in the rain. It was hard rain for about half the drive. People in California have no idea what it’s like to drive in real, actual weather, so when it starts sprinkling the freeways begin to jam up with brake lights out of nowhere even though there is nobody on the road. I made it to work around 11:15 in time to get a coffee and go outside to check the NFL scores while seeing how poorly my fantasy team was performing.
My buddy Derek was the only one outside with me. He’s middle aged and works as one of the bosses in the poker room and he’s a huge Los Angeles Chargers fan. Usually when the Chargers win we’ll talk about the Chargers, and when the Chargers lose to the Chiefs — as they have twice this year — I won’t say anything to him about it unless he wants to talk about how the refs screwed up the game or how they had too many injuries. I’m not one of those fans, but most everyone else seems to be.
I like talking to Derek because the two of us agree on Football Theory. That is, we both believe that the only way to win a Super Bowl is with a pocket passer (rather than a scrambling QB), and we both believe that the two things that matter more than anything else on the football field are the offensive line and the defensive line. Everything matters. Everyone has a role to play. But without winning in the trenches nothing else is going to consistently work.
I told Derek a couple things. The first is that I believed the Chargers were going to beat the Dolphins on Sunday Night Football (which they did, 23-17), and the second was that I thought there was a chance the Broncos could beat the Chiefs. I didn’t believe as strongly about the latter as I did the former, but alas I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. I have seen them fuck off so many games so many times that nothing really surprises me with them. I love them. I root for them. I stake a tiny percentage of my happiness on how they perform on Sundays. But if they aren’t playing a team that requires their absolute focus, the door is always open.
Pride is my downfall, and I do take a lot of pride in showing up to work everyday and giving an honest effort. I like to entertain myself, I like to entertain my coworkers, I like to offer a positive experience to the gamblers at my tables. And the best part is I don’t do it for anyone other than me. It isn’t out of some extreme loyalty to the company I work for (even though I do love my job), and I don’t get paid any extra for being the person I am. I just enjoy working and making everyone around me happy. Laughter has forever been my oxygen.
But today sucked. Save for one brief shining moment I didn’t appreciate any of it. I pictured myself at my house watching football and looking out at the rain. The gamblers I normally cheer on and try to put on a show for were annoying me consistently, to the point that for the majority of the day I just kept my head down. There were a couple tables at the end of the day with players who tipped well, so I offered them something more closely resembling my best. For the most part, though, I was not myself.
I was dealing on the high limit baccarat table to a group of old Asian men — I think they were Japanese — when Isiah Pacheco barreled over a couple Broncos defenders for the game-winning first down. I watched up at the TV ahead of me while these Asian guys were betting anywhere between $300 and $1,500 per hand, not giving a single shit if they won or lost because Kansas City did what they do and had a 27-0 lead that turned into a 27-21 lead and ended up being a 34-28 win. I didn’t really care, to be honest with you.
Football is a great source of entertainment, but it is not my end-all. One of the themes of this blog this season vis-a-vis the Chiefs has been the common occurrence of them not showing up for the games that don’t really matter. Last week’s loss to the Bengals was a Big Game, one they badly wanted to win. The remaining schedule features matchups against the Texans, Seahawks, Broncos (again) and Raiders. There is a well above average chance that none of those teams are going to be in the playoffs, meaning it’s going to mean a lot less for them than it does the Chiefs.
That’s why I’m so suspect about Kansas City’s chances for the rest of the regular season. They are currently 10-3 and have a lock on the AFC West with a win next week against the worst team in the NFL, but what then? Are the Seahawks going to show up and upset them? Will the Broncos or Raiders exact revenge? Which one of these dogshit teams is going to catch the Chiefs on a day where they are more focused on what they are going to do in the playoffs?
These are just thoughts. Oftentimes I have compared my own life to the abilities of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, at least insofar as how Up they can get for the moments that matter and how lackadaisical they can be in moments that don’t. This Kansas City campaign has been an interesting one on several levels, but by now — by virtue of their 10-3 record — they have proven who they are. They are one of only a handful of teams in the league who are capable of beating anyone on any given day, which make them a worthy candidate to win the Super Bowl.
With that said, The Road To Glory isn’t only about the Chiefs. This is, after all, the blog of Eric Reining. I got to see snippets of today’s victory agains the Broncos, but I haven’t watched the highlights yet and I probably will after I hit the submit button here but don’t let that confuse you from what I said about football being entertainment. Real life is more important. Many things are more important. And many things are more important to me right now than football.