Fanatical fans, that’s for sure
Around Town Column
Yes, I was one of those 40,000 or so idiots in the Arrowhead icebox Sunday. So were my sons. The acorn truly doesn’t fall far from the tree.
They were born and raised Kansas City fans, both the Chiefs and the Royals. Now in their mid-20s, they hold true to those teams despite their lack of recent success. While many believe Brett was named after Royals’ legend George Brett, he really wasn’t. Really. Anthony’s claim to fame? He was born in 1985, the year the Royals won their only World Series.
When we moved to Baldwin City in 1988, the Royals were still competitive. Mostly. The Chiefs were dreadful. But that all changed. The Royals got worse and the Chiefs got much better. In the boys’ formative years, it was winning records and playoff appearances. They had Chiefs jerseys, shirts, coats, backpacks, you name it.
Now that both teams are pretty much pitiful, Brett and Anth’s true colors come through. They’re still huge fans. They go to numerous Royals games. Brett has a Kansas City Chiefs credit card. Odds are, when you see them, one or both will be sporting a Royals cap.
So with that, it wasn’t too much of a surprise several weeks ago when Brett told me not to make plans for Dec. 21. He’d gotten us tickets to the Chiefs’ final home game of the season for Christmas. That’s my boy.
At the time I thought it was a great idea. We hadn’t been to a Chiefs game together for years. Anth and I went several years ago when his then-girlfriend got him tickets to the home finale for Christmas. That was a cold one, with snow, and it was a miracle day with a victory over Jacksonville and losses by both Pittsburgh and Denver to open the door for the Chiefs’ last playoff appearance.
Visions of that were dancing in my head. That was — until it got closer to game day and the weather forecasters were predicting temperatures in the single digits and wind chills in the negative “I don’t want to talk about it” range.
That’s what we got.
Was there ever a thought, a discussion, about not going? Never. It was our destiny. I told them early on to be thinking about lots of layers of clothes. Lots and lots of layers. I also said it would probably be a chance to see the Chiefs at their lowest, the worst record in decades and no one in Arrowhead.
I was about half right.
They showed up to the farm at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday. I had been sorting through hunting gear for days to come up with every sort of layer you could imagine. I had my stack of clothes that amounted to seven layers for the torso. They claimed they had the basic layers, but needed various neck protectors, scarves, hats and other oddball items.
We threw it all in the Pony and headed east. Right away I could tell it was bad because the wind was whipping the car around like crazy. Oh, boy. We stopped along the way and had breakfast — probably the smartest thing we did all day.
As we were tooling down I-435, a white pickup passed us and an arm came out of the back waving to us. It was Anth’s roommates, Tyler Trowbridge and Bill Bidwell, who had decided at the last minute to go to the game, too. We weren’t alone in our insanity. Brett said Chapin Deel and his girlfriend were going, too, and through cell-phone magic, we found them in the parking lot. Baldwin City was well represented.
We trudged into the stadium and the ticket takers did the body search halfheartedly. With all those “Michelin men” in so many layers, they weren’t going to find anything. I swear, if I had fallen over, I couldn’t have gotten up.
We found our seats in the north end zone, a location we’d never watched a game from. Our seats were one row out of the sun. With mostly empty seats in front of us, we moved up. Another good move. In peering around the stadium, I was surprised. There were a lot more people there than I expected. They never announced attendance, to my dismay, but I’d guess at least 30,000 and probably 40,000 or more. But it certainly wasn’t the 73,000 plus that was claimed in the box score the next day. There were plenty of no shows.
It was game time. It didn’t get off to a good start. Miami returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Oh, boy. Then the Dolphins went up 10-0 thanks to an interception. It didn’t look good for our beloved Chiefs. But they fought back, remarkably, and led at halftime 28-24. The Chiefs scored 28 points in a half? They usually don’t do that in a game.
Despite the bitter cold, we were holding up well. I wasn’t cold at all. Really. Brett’s hands and feet were cold. Same for Anth, plus his bottom. Four fans in front of us left at halftime and offered pads that they had been sitting on. That made a huge difference.
There were numerous trips to the concession stand and bathroom – where it was warm. As the game wore on, that became a favorite place of many. As for those drinks, they were good for the first five to 10 minutes and were actually warmer than the temperature — by a long shot. But it didn’t take long before they were slush.
The game battle waged on and the Chiefs upped their lead to 31-24 in the third quarter. But that was it. Miami rallied for two touchdowns to win 38-31. When the last touchdown was scored with four minutes left, that was enough — ballgame, we all declared.
We headed out of the safety of the stadium and into the parking lot. Without the protection, the wind was brutal. I had not been cold until then, but boy did that make up for it. It was terrible. My glasses froze up, but I kept going. I had to dig deep for the keys and then fired the Pony up — and cranked the heater. The outer layers came off, the others did not.
We exited the stadium in the easiest Arrowhead traffic I’ve ever seen. We’d survived the second-coldest Arrowhead game ever. The previous one was in 1983 when only 11,000 fans showed up, the lowest total ever.
We did our part this time around. Fanatical fans, that’s us. I wouldn’t have it any other way.