Tuesday, October 7, 2008

17 years ago today ...

And wow, do I feel old typing that.

Seventeen years ago today, the defining moment of this franchise in my generation, the defining moment of this franchise for a couple generations, unfolded at One Arrowhead Drive.

Seventeen years ago today, I argue the Carl Peterson era hit its high water mark. Seventeen years ago today ... ok, tonight ... Chiefs football went from afterthought ... to the dominating topic in Kansas City sports.

It seems almost impossible to remember what Chiefs football was like 20 years ago. The crowds of ... 22,000. The tickets ... left on windshields for anyone to use them. The record ... of back to back 4 wins seasons.

(OK, that last part, right now ... looks good. You can now begin drinking ...)

But 17 years ago today, one game, one moment, changed all of that.

October 7, 1991. A Monday Night for the ages.

Chiefs 33. Bills 6.

(If you go to the July posts and read my top 10 Chiefs games of all time, you will find this one in the list ... and here's a hint, just hit "end" to find it ...)

The Chiefs entered that game a decided underdog. After an opening day win over the Falcons and second week loss to the Saints (the last non-sellout at Arrowhead, for those keeping track at home), we lost at Houston on a Monday night to fall to 1-2. After a 7 point win at Arrowhead over the Seahawks to avenge the "Dave Kreig" game, we gutted out a one point win at the Murph to climb back to 3-2, a game behind the division leading broncos.

With 5-0 Buffalo, and then a loaded Miami team coming to Arrowhead over the next two weeks.

Its really tough to talk about the 1991 Bills in objective terms. I firmly believe this was the best of their 4 Super Bowl teams. Maybe if Thurman Thomas doesn't leave his helmet in the locker room, the Redskins don't get off to a huge start and beat them in the Super Bowl. On the other hand, that Redskins team was 14-2. So they were pretty good too.

The Bills entered this game with a justified swagger. Defending AFC Champs. A wide right field goal away from being defending World Champs. They weren't just winning; they were scoring at will:

vs Mia: W 35-31
vs Pitt: W 52-34
at Jets: W 23-20
at TB: W 17-20
vs Chi: W 35-20

3 games already at 35 points or higher. (This Bills team would wind up with 7 games scoring 35 or more, including the next two after this Monday night battle. They would wind up with 9 games scoring 30 or more, and the fewest they would score all season in a game was 13, in a loss at New England. To put into perspective how incredible this is ... the best Chiefs offensive team of my lifetime, the 2002 Chiefs? Scored 35 plus 5 times, scored 30 plus 8 times ... yet only went 4-4 in those games. Buffalo went 9-0 when scoring 30 plus. Yeah, they had a defense too ...)

Anyhoo, the Chiefs entered a decided underdog. Not many gave the Red and Gold a chance to do this. Just "keep it close". "Make it respectable". "Don't embarrass yourself". Common themes heard leading into the game.

Only ... the Chiefs had other ideas.

Bob Gretz' take this morning:

"On October 7, 1991, the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills 33-6 in a Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium. In what was one of the most memorable games in Kansas City history, the Arrowhead crowd made it impossible for Bills QB Jim Kelly to run the Buffalo offense. That and the Chiefs defense, which sacked Kelly six times and forced five fumbles, all of which were recovered by the Chiefs. LB Derrick Thomas finished with four sacks and DT Bill Maas had two. RB Christian Okoye ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns while rookie RB Harvey Williams ran for 103 yards. TE Pete Holohan caught a one-yard TD pass from QB Steve DeBerg, while Nick Lowery kicked four field goals. Offensively, the Chiefs held the ball for a remarkable 44 minutes and 6 seconds."

(the link: http://www.bobgretz.com/chiefs-football/tuesday-morning-cup-o%e2%80%99chiefs-2.html#more-3476)

The only question I have after reading that is "one of?!?!" the most memorable games?

This was the game that MADE Arrowhead!

I loved, though, that he included not just the highlights (and there were a sh*tload of them), and left the night's interpretation open to the reader ... but he threw in my favorite stat of all time.


The Chiefs time of possession that night.

Folks, when you hold the ball for 44 minutes and 6 seconds, you're not just beating your opponent. You're taking them to the woodshed and treating them like a government mule. (rev. sharpton voice: hey, that my mule! that my mule!)

It's number one on my list of favorite Chiefs games for a reason. (The full list available by clicking on July and reading it). And not just because Patti DiParto-Livergood nailed the National Anthem, or Dan Dierdorf on national television declared Arrowhead Stadium to be "the finest facility in all of sports". (I'm guessing Dan had some of that bbq and beer he waxed poetically about in the intro ...)

For one day. One magical, incredible night, the Chiefs, Arrowhead Nation, were the focus of, uuh, the nation.

And we nailed our audition. We nailed it like Blake Lewis doing "Shot Through the Heart", like David Cook reinventing "Hello". Like Daughtry rocked the joint on "I Dare You". Like Carrie Underwood on Idol's finest hour, "Alone". (That, or "Praying for Time". Good God she's so freaking talented ... and hot ...)

We nailed our audition. And even more impressively, backed it up with an ass whoopin on the Dolphins 6 days later, 42-7. Capped by Chris Martin's 100 something yard fumble return for a touchdown. When you're dialed in ... you're dialed in. If only we didn't have to venture to Real Mile High after that homestand ...

So (johnny bristol voice) hang on in there, Chiefs fans. It does get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

20 years ago, October 7 1991 seemed like the impossible dream. 17 years after that magical, incredible day ... it still seems impossible. But not because it can't happen. But because it can.

I want October 7 1991 again. I want this team, this town, to matter. I want this team, this fanbase, to once again assume its position as a flagship franchise in this league. And yes, I still want Queen's "I Want It All" to be brought back as the victory song as you walk up the stairs after a Chiefs win.

Not just because the song rocks, or it was like a comfort blanket, knowing all was gonna be great for a week because the late, great Freddy Mercury railed that "I want it all!"

But because the words still fit. Seventeen years after that magical night ... the words still fit.

"It ain't much I'm asking,
I heard him say;
'Gotta find me a future,
Move outta my way!

I want it all!
I want it all!
I want it all!
And I want it now!

I want it all!
I want it all!
I want it all!
And I want it now!

Listen all you people; come gather 'round,
Gotta get me a new gameplan!
Gotta shake it to the ground!
Just gimme what I know is mine!
People do you hear me? Just give me a sign!

It ain't much I'm asking,
If you want the truth.
Here's to the future!
And the dreams of youth ...

I want it all!
I want it all!
I want it all!
And I want it now ..."

I want it all. I want to meltdown in a stream of tears, delirium, and abject euphoria as the Chiefs go to the victory formation in an AFC Title Game at Arrowhead to "Bring Lamar's Trophy home!"

And then I want to replicate October 7, 1991 on whatever outmatched, outcoached, out-classed NFC team we destroy to return "Vince's Trophy" to Kansas City for the first time since the 1969 season.

I've lived in a town when it wins it all. I was in Dallas when the Cowboys won the last of their 3 Super Bowls of the 1990s. I was in Dallas when the Stars hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup.

I want it all.

And I don't doubt that the braintrust of this franchise wants the same thing.

I just don't think they know how to get it ...

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