I bleed Chief's red

Friday, January 8, 2016

On Feb. 7, the NFL will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl; I just hope we see some Chief's Red there, just like there was at that first Super Bowl.

I am writing this column on the Monday after the Chief's victory over the Cleveland Browns, on Dec. 27. That win ensured the Chiefs a spot in these years playoffs. Yesterday's game was a nerve racking, hand wringing, and for some, nail wrecking, trial.

That first Super Bowl back on Jan. 15, 1967, was also a difficult time for true Chief's fans. We had been so excited to be in the first ever Super Bowl, and the outcome was terrible.

Lamar Hunt had helped to found the original American Football League in 1960. He was the owner of one of the first franchises in the league, which he located in his home state of Texas. They were called the Dallas Texans. In one of the very first overtime games in professional football history, the Texans defeated their archrival, the Houston Oilers, in the league championship, in the second quarter of OT (according to Wikipedia, that game stands today as the third longest in history).

Hunt found that competing with the Dallas Cowboys (they also played their home games in the Cotton Bowl) was not proving financially productive for either franchise. In 1963 Hunt moved his team to Kansas City, and the Chiefs found a loving fan base and home.

I followed the Chiefs closely, and the year of that first Super Bowl, was also a time of great football locally. I was lucky enough to be a member of the Nevada High School 1966 Big Ten Championship team. In those days, there were no high school playoffs in football. The St. Louis Globe Democrat and the Kansas City Star newspapers jointly ranked all the teams at the end of the season.

Our '66 team went undefeated that year. In those days there were only 3 size classes in Missouri high school sports -- L, M, and S, which stood simply for large, medium, and small schools. We ended our season ranked third in Class L, among the largest metropolitan schools in the state.

We enjoyed our season and awards but everyone in this area was acutely aware of the upcoming playoffs for our Kansas City Chiefs. In the AFL Championship game, we defeated the Buffalo Bills, who were a perennial powerhouse back then.

During the early years of the American Football League, owners like Hunt, began a bidding war with the older National Football League. Many Kansas City stars chose to play for the Chiefs instead of the NFL, because of the higher salaries they were offered. The most famous AFL contact was when "Broadway" Joe Namath, singed a huge contract with he New York Jets.

The NFL owners feared that a continued bidding war for players would ruin both leagues, so they invited the AFL to merge. Once an agreement had been reached, the first Super Bowl was scheduled, to host the champions from each league.

The first Super Bowl was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum. At the time it was so new and unfamiliar to fans, that they had difficulty actually selling tickets. I can assure you, that back here in Missouri; every television was tuned into that first Super Bowl.

I lived and died with each play during that game. The legendary Vince Lombardi and his Green Bay Packers handed my Chiefs a devastating loss by the score of 35-10. While many fans suffered from this setback, I always felt it was the impetus for later greatness.

The Chiefs were a young but very talented team that had gone to that first Super Bowl. The loss sort of left a "chip" on their shoulders so to speak. They were hungry for revenge, and that would come only 3 short years later.

In the summer of 1969, I traveled to Liberty, Mo., to visit the Chiefs training camp. In those days you didn't need a ticket, and you could freely walk around to watch practice. I even got to go down on the field after practice, and meet some of my heroes. Little did I know at the time, that a few months later, these Chiefs, would win their first Super Bowl Championship.

Hank Stram and his Chiefs were one of the most successful teams in professional football after their move to Kansas City, until they began a steady decline in the mid 70's.

During the decades since those glory days, the Chiefs have had periods of excellence, and other times when we were at best inept. One thing that never wavered for me and countless fans, has been our loyalty to our beloved Chiefs.

Win or loose, we have lived and died with each successive season. In a recent online article, they rated the best NFL stadiums to watch a game. It came as no surprise to me, that Arrowhead was voted the best venue in the NFL.

Arrowhead is part of the Truman Sports Complex that includes Kauffman Stadium, where our World Champion Kansas City Royals play. The parking lots for the combined stadiums are immense (perhaps the largest in all of the sports world).

On football Sundays, the lots are filled with fans that travel from hundreds of miles, and many states, to tailgate. Flags, BBQ, bands, and an unequalled party atmosphere, make the experience unique.

At this date, it is uncertain if my Chiefs will be able to have a home playoff game. If they do, you can rest assured, that Arrowhead will "be a rockin!"

I have been waiting a long time for another trip to the Super Bowl for my Chiefs. The odds are not in our favor, but that won't stop myself, nor the countless other "RED" attired Chiefs fans from eternal hope. As we all shout at the end of the National Anthem each Sunday, "home of the CHIEFS!"

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