Thursday, October 27, 2011

steve (n)o! responds

Let me begin, by stating that Heath, in his outstanding response to my rant about the “Suck for Luck” movement, is absolutely right about one thing. I never should have suggested, stated, insinuated, or even hinted at the “if you want the Chiefs to suck, you’re not a real fan” implication. Real fans come in all shapes, sizes, and demographics. If you honestly believe(d) that the best thing for the Chiefs, long term, was to lose enough to get the number one pick this year, and use it to draft Andrew Luck, then by all means, stick to your convictions. We’ll just “agree to disagree”. But I will agree with Heath, that it doesn’t make you less of a fan to feel that way, any more than wanting to see this team win every game possible this season makes me a better fan, because it doesn’t.

Having gotten that out of the way, let’s dig in, Stevo style. In case you’ve never seen how I analyze an article that intrigues me, here’s a sample of what you’re about to read.

(Heath’s post in italics, my response in normal font).

Now, I’m ready to fully admit that Suck4Luck was ignorant. I had this epiphany about 20 minutes into the Dolphins / Jets pukefest on MNF. What I’m not ready to do is accept Steve’s castration of those fans that were behind the movement from the beginning.

Fair enough. I’m looking forward to hearing why you supported the Suck4Luck movement.

Steve, the reason people were on the Suck4Luck bandwagon is exactly because they “aspire to greatness”. Sure, maybe a QB at #1 overall is 50/50 (it’s more like 70/30) but do you think there is a 50/50 shot Matt Cassel is leading us to greatness? Is there a 50/50 shot that the Chiefs make the playoffs without their best offensive and defensive players?

Let me break up the paragraph here and respond, in order.

1. No, I do not rate Matt Cassel’s odds of leading us to greatness at 50/50. I’d put it more 95/5 against it occurring. I think we agree on this.

2. No, I do not agree that there is a 50/50 shot the Chiefs make the playoffs without their best offensive and defensive players. I think at this moment, it’s something around 60/40 yes, and with a win on Monday, that number rises to 80/20 in the affirmative. With a loss on Monday, it drops to about 80/20 against a playoff berth occurring. It’s why Monday is so huge. The entire season literally hangs on the sixty minutes of action.

With a win on Monday, the Chiefs tie San Diego and oakland at 4-3 … but that doesn’t tell the true story. The Chiefs would hold a huge tiebreaker over oakland with a road divisional win. San Diego and KC both have already beaten the hapless Vikings … but San Diego has already also beaten Miami and denver, two teams we have yet to play (and who are on deck and in the hole, so to speak, on the schedule). A win on Monday, and it is highly likely KC rolls into New England (who San Diego has already lost to) at 6-3, AT LEAST one clear of either oakland or San Diego (because they face each other at the Q in two weeks), but more likely at least one clear of BOTH oakland and San Diego (because the Chargers host the Packers on a short week next week.) Also, our week seventeen game is at denver, where San Diego and oakland have both already won. The Chargers and raiders face each other by the Bay in week 17. One of them WILL lose that game. If we’re one clear entering the week, even if that one clear is at 8-7, we control our own destiny, and if the raiders and Chargers split, it’s highly likely our season finale would be meaningless, because we could be 3-1 against the two of them and already own the first two tiebreakers (head to head, divisional record) against oakland, and after splitting head to head with San Diego, we’d have them on divisional record with a raiders win.

The bottom line is this – even at 0 and 3, I looked at the schedule, and thought we could get back to .500 entering this game. I also thought San Diego, even at 3-1, would lose at least once, as they had two tough roadies (at denver, at Jets) before coming here. That’s the biggest reason why I refused to back Suck4Luck – because I firmly believe that until you are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, you continue to TRY to get there.

Maybe I feel differently about this than some fans because I am a season ticket holder, and please, I’m not in any way, shape or form saying that makes me a “better” fan – if anything, it makes me more retarded, to have sat through 2007, 2008, and 2009 and VOLUNTARILY paid to do so – but I believe a team, in any sport, has an “implied” contract with its season ticket base to at least TRY to win until doing so makes no sense whatsoever. If the Chiefs had lost to either Minnesota or Indy? I’d be perfectly fine with starting Ricky Stanzi, and going for number one. I even wrote that somewhere on this site, I believe after the week two loss to Detroit, where I noted how utterly stupid not drafting Ryan Mallett last spring might turn out to be. (Ignore my momentary frustration -- it was gone 48 hours later!)

If we weren’t at least 2-3 headed to oakland, I was perfectly fine with shutting the thing down and playing the (joe pesci voice) utes. Kind of like the Royals this spring – they got off to a great start, they went for broke by promoting Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy when they did, and … well, they broke. But once they broke? I had no issues with keeping promoting the kids and playing them, which is exactly what the Royals did. And I suspect, based on the attendance figures in August and September, that most of Kansas City concurs with me on that.

As for QBs being a 50/50 (or 70/30 or better) risk at number one … my point wasn’t that the Chiefs shouldn’t use their first round pick on a quarterback. I believe I wrote ten freaking pages calling on the Chiefs to do that six months ago. The point I was trying to make was this – you don’t have to have THE number one pick to draft your guy. You just need A first rounder, and there’s 32 of them to choose from.

I’ve noted this before, and God knows I love DJ, hell I wore his jersey for three years to home and road games. But if you could turn back the clock to the 15th selection in the 2005 NFL draft, would you still take DJ? Or would you run to the podium as fast as humanly possible with the words “Aaron Rodgers, QB, University of Cal – Berkeley” on the pick card? We wouldn’t have had to trade up to get Rodgers. He fell to us. (Like Mallett last April, and I am still IRATE over the idiocy of passing on Ryan Mallett for a wide receiver who has one catch so far, a center who projects as a career backup, and a linebacker one toke away from a four game suspension.) Screwy things happen in the draft every year. Who’s to say Luck won’t slide on Draft Day 2012? I know it’s a longshot, but NOBODY had Drew Brees going 32nd overall (aka “1st pick of the second round) in 2001.

Anyways, my long winded way of saying, I didn’t grasp why you’d want your team to lose this early in the season. Because as we’ve seen the last four weeks, ANYTHING can happen. That was what I was trying to argue, in my (apparently) offensive, snobbish way.

We want greatness more than anything because it’s been so damned long since we saw it.

I’ll grant you that.

Frankly, if our owner seemed a little more interested in greatness and a little less interested in padding his pockets maybe fans wouldn’t be grasping at straws. But that proposition is much less than 50/50.

OK, now THAT, I COMPLETELY disagree with. Who, exactly, would you have had Clark Hunt toss money at this offseason to improve the roster? The problem with the NFL (ok, it’s not really a problem, per se, but bear with me) is that fans look at the salary cap figure and conclude that’s all the Chiefs are spending. And it’s ridiculous.

In terms of cash outflows to their players, the Chiefs rank 14th in the league this year. Yes, we are dead last against the cap … but why do you think that is? I’d argue it’s for four (really good) reasons:

1. All of our major talent is young.

2. We’re resigning that young talent at a wonderful clip. We know, right now, that come 2016, barring catastrophic disaster, we’ll still have Jamaal Charles carrying the ball, Jon Asomoah protecting the blindside for Cassel’s replacement, the league’s best secondary with Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Eric Berry, and Kendrick Lewis, a ridiculously talented linebacking corps of Tamba Hali, DJ, and Justin Houston, and two solid defensive ends in Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey, with the underrated Wallace Gilberry backing them up. We know we’ll have Dwayne Bowe (who should be, and I believe is, the next Chiefs player to sign a long-term extension) and Tony Moeaki as viable receiving threats for whoever Cassel’s replacement is.

And oh yeah, we’ll have Cassel’s replacement under center.

3. Scott Pioli truly didn’t see anyone out there worth signing to a big money contract. You know what? After the sh*tfest that was Carl Peterson signings the last ten, twelve years he ran things, I’m perfectly good with it. Why toss away $50 million on another Elvis Grbac, another Shawn Barber, another Kendrick Bell, another Carlton Gray, another Brett Perriman, another Chester McGlockton, another Johnnie Morton, another Ty Law (an OK signing, to be fair, but in hindsight a waste of money given where the team was headed)?

Let’s be honest: the Chiefs have signed exactly ONE free agent off the street in the last fifteen years that ultimately earned his contract: Priest Holmes. And he was an afterthought. He was so highly sought after … that we signed him the day before the 2001 NFL draft, as an insurance policy in case we couldn’t find a running back in the second round (we traded our first rounder for Trent Green). If there’s nobody worth whizzing the money away on, why whiz it away? And …

4. I know there’s a perception that exists of Clark Hunt and the Hunt Family being “cheap” because the Chiefs cap number is so low … but you know what? Think of what YOU didn’t pay for the next time you attend a game, Chiefs (and Royals) fans. Because Clark Hunt and the Hunt Family paid EVERY CENT of cost overruns on the Sports Complex renovations. It was supposed to be shared 50/50 between the Royals and the Chiefs. David Glass contributed $0.00 over his $125 million obligation. Clark Hunt wound up spending nearly $400 million towards making Arrowhead the finest stadium in the NFL. (Note: I don’t agree with that statement, Reliant Stadium in Houston is the finest stadium in the NFL, at least that I’ve ever been to, and I’m guessing “The Voice of Reason” would add Gillette Stadium to the list of better venues than Arrowhead. But other than those two, and Jerry World in Arlington, Arrowhead is as good as it gets.)

If Clark Hunt didn’t want to shell out another $30 million on an outside linebacker because he instead dumped it into keeping the taxpayers from getting hosed, you know what? I’m ok with that. I’m normally very cynical when it comes to sports architecture. But Arrowhead overwhelms me every Sunday (and this week, Monday) that I step foot in it. The Hall of Fame is PHENOMALLY awesome. You need to head in an hour early at least once just to see it … and by an hour, I mean devote at least 90 minutes, because you’ll still be in awe after the first hour is up. The Founders Plaza is epic. Every time I am down there, either visiting the Team Store or just for sh*ts and giggles, I head for B4, and there’s my brick. Yeah, those bricks that season ticket holders “earned”, that line the entryway into the main gate of Arrowhead? Care to guess how much I spent on my brick?

$0.00. The Hunt Family gave EVERY season ticket holder their own personalized spot of Arrowhead. I for one think that’s pretty damned cool. (The larger bricks you could pay for, but still, a really neat gesture by the Hunt Family).

So, another long winded response, but basically, I’m ok with the Chiefs low cap number because (a) we are spending the money, via long-term extensions and the renovations at the Sports Complex, and (b) who the hell was out there worth signing? We signed two free agents of impact this offseason – Kelly Gregg and Steve Breaston. Anyone b*tching about that money spent at this point?

Now, the wheels have clearly fallen off the Suck4Luck bandwagon … and that’s fine. I’m not (nor was I ever) actively rooting against the Chiefs. I do, however, think it needs to be pointed out that by putting your heart and soul into this team, you aren’t striving for greatness … you’re striving for mediocrity. I for one have seen plenty of that over the past 25 years.

And on that, we will have to “agree to disagree”. We may not have a Lombardi Trophy to show for the last twenty five years … but we HAVE seen some “greatness”. As great as I would like to see? No. But we’ve seen three separate 13 win teams. Yes, all were derailed by an Achilles heel, so to speak (1995, a horrific kicking game; 1997, a lack of instant replay; 2003, the worst defense in NFL history). We’ve been sixty minutes away from playing for said Lombardi Trophy. We witnessed multiple Hall of Fame careers either begin, flourish, or end here – Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Derrick Thomas. Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Tony Gonzalez are all going to get in eventually. We earned a reputation as THE most fearful place to play in the NFL, as the loudest, most boisterous, most passionate fanbase in the nation. “The Sea of Red”. Is that “mediocrity”? I not only say “no”, I say “hell no”!

But is it the greatness that you and I both want to see achieved? Sadly, the answer to that is not only “no”, but “hell no” as well. Like you, I too want to see a championship in my lifetime, and the sooner the better. But if this season brings a little joy and satisfaction out of it, say a 9-7 or 10-6 division championship, a wildcard round victory, and putting the fear of God into the Patriots or the Steelers in the divisional round? I’m perfectly good with it.

Because come next April, when we’re on the clock, the chance to grab the final piece of the puzzle, a championship caliber quarterback, will exist again. And whether we are slotted at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 15, or 31, the opportunity is there. Either said franchise QB can fall to us, like Aaron Rodgers SHOULD HAVE in 2005 (can’t say this enough – passing on Rodgers at 15 in 2005 is THE single biggest mistake of Carl Peterson’s career), or we can trade up and grab him. Either way, at least we know this – the pieces assembled right now, are simply one part away from being something epic. Compared to where we were three years ago at this time, I’m perfectly fine with that …

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