“Well this is just a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you ‘bout all those fears,
And the way they did run.
You sure must be strong;
When you feel like an ocean,
Being warmed by the sun.
When I was just nine years old?
I swear that I dreamt,
Your face on a football field,
And a kiss that I kept,
Under my vest –
Apart from everything,
I hide in my chest.
I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone!
Don’t go thinking you’ve gotta be tough,
And play like a stone --
Could be nothing else in our lives,
Is so critical
As this little home?”
I was late arriving to my seat yesterday. And I spent last week watching the game from my former seat. So it'd been a couple weeks since I'd seen Steve, the season ticket holder who has the two seats next to me.
Yesterday, he brought his wife with him. Apparently he did last week too. (He also did for the Giants game, so I'd met her before).
When I finally got there about midway through the first quarter, and we exchanged pleasantries, she looked over at me once I'd gotten settled in, and said "thank God you're here. He missed his buddy (last week)." Which I thought was neat. It's always nice to be wanted, to feel appreciated.
And then she continued. "Plus, I couldn't take another week of him. He's too intense. It's nice having you here, because you're the only person I've ever met, that's as bad as him (into being into the game)."
Sunday's game against the Browns didn't match the intensity of the last two weeks against the hated raiders and the desperate Texans. And that's to be expected; it's nearly impossible to maintain that level of emotion for three straight weeks. There's a reason why those Thursday afternoon games in July are called "getaway days" in Major League Baseball. Those are the games when, after two or three intense evenings, you send in the backups and give your starters a rest, take a breather. After the last two weeks, a letdown was virtually a given.
Even a good team, can get tripped up in these kind of environments. In that regard, yesterday's closer-than-expected Chiefs win is not all that surprising.
But the great teams, find a way to win on a day when they shouldn't. In that regard, yesterday's closer-than-expected Chiefs win, is reinforcing, is confidence building, is inspiring.
The Chiefs gave a D game effort yesterday against the Browns A game ... and won. That's what championship contenders do. That's what the Chiefs did. This team, folks, is a bona fide championship contender. They are good enough to be the last team standing, come February 2nd.
Because of a little something, that got chanted loudly and mercilessly, during the fourth quarter yesterday, a thing called "Chief-Fense".
But that's not what I'll remember, about this game, about this day, long after the date, score, and details are forgotten in this possibly bat sh*t crazy mind of mine ...
"When was the last time club level was this full? 2008?" -- me, to The Voice of Reason, 2nd quarter yesterday.
"Club level is pathetic." -- The Voice of Reason, former club level season ticket holder, 2nd quarter yesterday.
You know the fans are starting to buy in, when club level actually has bodies in the seats. It was still at least thirty, thirty five percent empty (versus the lower and upper bowls, which were very filled in). But still, you gotta start somewhere, and club level has nowhere to go but up, since the decision was made in 2009 to turn it into the fancy schmancy hub for the elite, and boot to the curb anyone who didn't fit the bill.
(Or didn't want to pay the outrageous, indefensible bill, sticking around would cost you.)
As I've said before, there's lies, there damned lies, and then there's statistics.
I love statistics. It probably explains my profession of choice.
Which is why this pregame stat, tossed out there by Mitch Holtgus* on the radio broadcast, damned near blew my mind.
The Chiefs defense has faced 1st and goal at the 1 an astounding three times, already this season. Three times in the first seven weeks, opponents have arrived at our one yard line, with four shots to put points on the board.
Would you care to guess, how many points the defense has yielded, in those three situations?
The odds of you stopping another team from scoring points on any goal to go, are not good. The odds of you stopping the other team from scoring points on 1st and goal at the one, are really not good. The odds of you preventing a touchdown in that spot, when the opponent simply has to snap the ball and fall forward to score (as Matthew Stafford did for Detroit as time wound down yesterday), are epically no bueno.
Three times this year, the opposition has reached the one yard line with a fresh set of downs.
Only one team (your Houston Texans, last week) managed a field goal.
There's a reason why the crowd by me wasn't chanting "de-fence!" down the stretch yesterday. Because calling what the Chiefs do on that side of the ball mere defense, is an insult.
It's something more.
It's what the fans around me chanted non-stop, in the deciding moments of the fourth quarter yesterday.
And let me tell you: it's a thing of beauty, to cheer for.
(*: Mitch also referred to Arrowhead as "the sacred acre on the 38th parallel" yesterday. Uuh, fellow Kingdom residents? It might be time to have that awkward, painful discussion about taking the keys away, from Uncle Mitch.)
Here's another stat you might find interesting.
Yesterday was the Chiefs fifth home game (as opposed to three on the road). Care to guess how many points, the Chiefs defense has allowed in the fourth quarter, of those five games?
Three -- to the Cowboys, six weeks and four home games ago.
The defense did not yield a fourth quarter point, in the entire three game homestand.
In the words of a dude from "Family Guy": "damn nature! You scary!"
My GameDay* actually began Saturday evening, with Larry and Karen's annual Halloween party. (You might remember this party as the one in which I made my on-stage debut as "Sweet Daddy Stevo" three years ago, leading everyone in a rousing rendition of "Sweet Caroline" at 10:30 in the evening.)
The theme this year was to come as someone scary. Some people went with the zombie and vampire look. Mike and Brooke made me laugh out loud when they came as Al and Peg Bundy.
I just went as myself. I'm stunned I didn't win top prize.
The bash was great. It was great seeing friends I hadn't seen in a while. It's why I love this party, and the St. Patrick's Day get-together every year, so much. People who you only see once, maybe twice a year, but are so much fun to be around, you look forward to seeing what they're going to do, to top the last time you saw them. (I'm looking at you, Sal, who sadly was not there on Saturday.)
The food was wonderful, the booze was plentiful. And in the upset of a lifetime, all I can say is, how I've never tried this concoction before, I have no idea:
(luretta) here, try this.
(stevo) (takes drink.)
(stevo) this isn't half bad. What is it?
(luretta) Diet Coke and vodka.
Now, if you know me at all, you know I drink too much for my own health, and that beverage of choice tends to be either vodka or shiraz. For me to have never mixed vodka with Diet Coke before, is an upset of Biblical proportions. I mean, I was mixing vodka with iced tea at least five years before that trend began. Hell, I've mixed vodka with coffee before to shockingly drinkable results. But I'd never tried vodka with Diet Coke.
I have now.
It'd get a 10-6, wildcard round loser on the Theismann Scale.
(*: I spell GameDay as I do, because I like it. Just like I always spell center "centre", when referring to an arena. It ain't right, but it should be.)
We hit the gates a little after 6:40am. Six of us rode out yesterday, and we used the early in pass yesterday.
So, since this is probably the only time this year I'll be able to say this, it is cool, it is so beyond cool, to come rolling down the hill in the dark, and see Arrowhead illuminated, like a beacon at the end of the desert. The parking lot lights weren't on. Kauffman wasn't lit up. Just Arrowhead, beaming at the bottom of Lot G in all its' glory.
I wish I'd snapped a picture of it. It was breathtaking.
Roger and his crew were already there setting up shop. Between his group, our group, and Ron's guys, we were pushing 30 people come 10:30ish. Because we had the party the night before, the menu was pretty basic: breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, and pork chops, along with assorted other sides and libations.
My drink of choice yesterday was the screwdriver. Gotta give major thanks to Anthony for buying the "extra pulp" OJ. I love the stuff. Apparently I'm the only person who does. So everyone else was scrambling over the non-pulp OJ, and I had my own bottle to myself at no cost to me whatsoever. That's bueno.
Another happy development: no bus across the way yesterday. It's amazing how much nicer it is to tailgate where we do, when there's not a horn war underway. Seriously -- who in the hell thinks investing hundreds of dollars in a horn system on top of a bus you haul out ten times a year, is a worthwhile investment? I have never understood that. And I'll freely admit, nobody is a worse frivolous spender than I am. I still have that Chi Chi Rodriguez Energy Bracelet somewhere that I ordered off some 2am infomercial. But who the hell think dropping a couple hundy on a horn is a good thing?
And where would you even find these things? I can't imagine there's a Horns R Us anywhere in this fine five county metropolitan area I call home.
Anyway, we broke down a little bit after 11. Sometimes, an uneventful tailgate is a good thing. I think.
Well, it figures.
A week after I praise the lamest mascot in the NFL for actually making me laugh for the first time since the Richard A. Vermeil years, KC Wolf has to out, and deliver one of the most pathetic, embarrassing, absolute "mail it in!" sketches he's ever delivered. And given the source of the material, that's saying something.
This week, Mr. Wolf didn't even bother with his typical "other team's fans (pick one) taunt / steal / mock / disrespect Wolf, fans run off, Wolf finds conveniently placed ATV machine, and chases fans onto the field" routine that was old in the Gunther Cunningham era. There were no Browns fans running onto the field. There was no "fire us up" moment of mascot-on-token-tools violence. Instead, it was just Mr. Wolf, riding around on his conveniently placed ATV, with a baby as the "Batman" television show theme song blared.
I'm going to throw out four quotes that were said at one point yesterday by either myself, or someone next to me, or someone I was in conversation with. You tell me which of these four, relates to Mr. Wolf's "routine":
a. "Seriously? That's it?"
b. "This is disgraceful. Absolutely f*cking disgraceful."
c. "Talk about stealing a paycheck! This is pathetic!"
d. "If Randall Carlyle Wakefield was alive to see this sh*t ..."
The answer? (c).
For the record, (a) was said by a Browns fan in front of me in the drink line, complaining about the size of a beer; (b) was said by me regarding the halftime performance (keep reading; I have a feeling a classic Stevo meltdown is going to occur); and (d) was said by The Voice of Reason, in describing the parking situation in Lot G yesterday.
Seriously, Mr. Wolf? Here, let me, your amigo, your descomisado, your ol' buddy Ol' Stevo, give you a few helpful pointers:
1. You can go to the "aww, isn't that baby cute, being recklessly endangered on an ATV by a frightening looking overweight furry wolf. Aww ..." well once. And only once. You already went to it for the second preseason game. Good God dude, we're recycling sketches five games in? Come on. I'd say you're better than this, but after twenty plus years, I have yet to see any visual evidence*, that proves you are.
2. If you're going to use the classic "Batman" theme song (a move I endorse, by the way), then at least have Arrowvision display the cheezy "POW!", "BOP!", "OOF!" quotes, like the TV show did.
3. Conveniently placed ATV's require conveniently lax security that allows conveniently classless (insert other team here)'s fans to reach the field and mock you to the paying public. With great conveniently placed ATV, comes great responsibility.
Oh, and this last one is the most important:
4. There is NOTHING too classless, crude, or in utterly inappropriate taste, when denver is involved**. There is NOTHING that is off the table.
I think that about covers it.
You've got a month to prep for the Chargers. Start taking surfing lessons Mr. Wolf; I have a feeling that a couple displaced Southern Californians are going to be stealing your board 27 days from today.
(*: this is a lie -- his sketch before the 49ers game in 1994 involved defiling a dummy dressed up like Deion Sanders. Mr. Sanders was so incensed, he actually went and got the dummy, and set it on the bench next to him. There's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's "Deion Sanders sitting next to a dummy on the bench". (tim mccarver voice) You're a real man, Deion! (Pause). What? (Pause). Yeah, good point -- the dummy was probably smarter, than any head coach Deion played for in this league.)
(Note: Mr. Sanders would have played for (if I remember right) Jerry "This is the NFL, which stands for Not For Long when you make calls like that!" Glanville, George "1-15, L15" Seifert, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Norval Eugene Turner, Terry Robiskie, and Marty Schottenheimer. Oh, and "Sur" William Callahan tried to sign him in oakland, but the Redskins blocked it. So the dummy's smarter than all but one coach Mr. Sanders had. My profound apologies, at that misstated statement in the prior footnote.)
(**: I still think having donkey fans run out in barrels, wearing nothing else, near the anniversary of Barrel Man's demise, was epically neat. There's classless, there's tasteless, then they're "mocking a man's death for others enjoyment" despicable. Mr. Wolf crossed every rock bottom, lowest common denominator floor for class with that sketch, (simon cowell voice) and I ... loved it.")
I have no idea who did the National Anthem (per the weekly email to season ticket holders, it was a country trio named Shotgun and Lace), but this was the second week in a row without a flyover. Be honest -- did you even miss it?
I love the individual player entrances returning. For the record, when the defense is introduced, the two I look the most forward to watching, are Justin Houston (who always does something laugh-out-loud funny) and Sean Smith (who stands there with the "Yeah, I'm Jim (Blanking) Walsh!" face perfected in the "90210" opening credits all those years ago, looks over at the visiting sideline, and has the most arrogant, cocky, condescending posture and stance, you could possibly imagine. Never, ever fails to make me laugh.
You're Sean Smith!
George Brett was your local celebrity to lead the initial Chop. (bob saget voice) Kids? You want to know how old your crazy Uncle Stevo is?
Yesterday was the TWENTY EIGHTH anniversary, of the Royals winning their only World Series.
To put this in perspective, my most recent ex-girlfriend, "The Ex", who just got married last weekend?
Was just a fun night after a David Allan Coe concert in her parents eyes at that point, because she's only twenty seven.
(old guy in "grumpier old men" voice) Just goes to show ya.
And now, we reach the actual game recap portion of these (not very well) prepared remarks. As always, I'll rely on the NFL GameCenter for down, distance, and timing accuracy. The rest, I'll rely on my cat-like memory reflexes, to kick in.
(Hence the reliance on NFL GameCenter.)
* Chiefs win the toss, choose to receive. Exactly as I would have done.
And for once, the offense begins to move. After a couple big conversions and a massive brain-fart penalty on the Browns for pounding a receiver out of bounds, the Chiefs have 3rd and 2 at the Browns 24.
And Alex Smith horribly underthrows the pass to an open Jamaal Charles.
Alex had moments yesterday where he looked extremely good. He had more moments, where I found myself saying "what the hell is wrong with this dude?" And note: anytime I am the one asking what the hell is wrong with you? That ain't good.
Thankfully, Ryan Succup was pretty solid yesterday, and drilled the 42 yarder to put the Chiefs up 3-0 early.
* I was unaware Willis McGahee was a Cleveland Brown prior to yesterday. I had no clue.
* Browns go three and out, and the Chiefs start driving again. The big play was a gorgeous pass to the Mountain Man, Sean McGrath, who caught it in stride and took it inside the Cleveland 20 for a nice 20 something yard gain. The drive stalls out, and Succup is good again, to put the Chiefs up 6-0.
Note: to this point, I do not have a single criticism of anything the Chiefs have called, or decided. Not one criticism.
Get ready -- the entire second quarter was one massive "what the hell are they doing?!?!?!" exercise in frustration.
* Well, not the entire quarter. The Chiefs open the quarter near midfield, having impressively moved the ball over thirty yards on the drive up to that point.
And really, this was one of the better drives the Chiefs have had all season. The only time they faced third and greater than five, was on the final play of the drive. Here's the down and distance they faced on each play:
* 1st and 10 at the KC 18.
* 2nd at 6 at the KC 22.
* 3rd and 1 at the KC 27.
* 1st and 10 at the KC 38.
* 2nd and 8 at the KC 40.
* 3rd and 1 at the KC 47.
* 1st and 10 at the KC 49.
* 2nd and 7 at the Cle 48.
* 1st and 10 at the Cle 40.
* 2nd and 5 at the Cle 35.
* 3rd and 5 at the Cle 35.
* 1st and 10 at the Cle 12.
* 2nd and 10 at the Cle 12.
* 3rd and 10 at the Cle 12.
And on that 3rd and 10, Alex Smith hit a simple check-down to Anthony Sherman, who ran untouched into the west end zone, to put the Chiefs up 13-0 early in the 2nd quarter.
* After a stupid penalty brings a nice kick return back inside the Chiefs ten, the defense forces another three and out, and the Chiefs get the ball near their own 40 with a little over eight minutes to go in the half.
At this point, you had to be optimistic as a Chiefs fan. You've had the ball three times; you've put three scores on the board. The Browns have also had the ball three times ... but they don't have a first down, only have thirteen yards of offense, and while the front wall hasn't broken through to get Jason Campbell yet, they've effectively made him know they are there. Furthermore, your time of possession so far, through 21 minutes of play? Chiefs 15:39, Browns 4:21.
Not a single decision made by the Chiefs would be attributed to anything other than the "right call" department.
In the words of a Bob Seger classic: "here I go; turn the page ..."
* Because this next drive, was enough to try the patience of a saint. And don't worry Pope Francis -- noone will be nominating me for sainthood, at any point in my life.
The Chiefs cross midfield, and face a 3rd and 3 at the Browns 45. The Browns bring the house -- and why not? You're already down thirteen, your offense has literally done nothing all day, you have to force the issue. The protection breaks down, and Alex Smith takes off, sliding close to the distance to gain. The officials rule him down right at the 42. He is ruled about a foot short of the first down, which would bring up 4th and 1 at the Cleveland 42.
The fact that "Fat" Andy Reid never flinched there, and had determined to go for it, is not what enraged me. I would have gone for it there. and I'm grateful that for the first time in ages, we have a head coach who is willing to go for it there*. Vermeil wouldn't unless Mike White goaded him into it. Herm wouldn't even if Mike White did goad him into it. Todd Haley would have asked what Scott Pioli favored, and then done the opposite. Romeo Crennel not only has no clue what the terms "down and distance" mean, he ate the flag that marked the line to gain. I am glad "Fat" Andy didn't hesitate to go for it. It was the right decision.
But the challenge ... oof.
(*: call me I'm crazy, say I'm a little naive ... but I think the fact that "Fat" Andy knows nothing short of getting caught with embarrassing kiddie clown porn photos at an Independence Avenue rent-by-the-hour motel is getting him fired after this season, has emboldened him to do things a lot of other coaches wouldn't. It's easy to take risks, when you have nothing to lose. In this case, the nothing being his job.)
Here's my issue with the challenge, and I think The Voice of Reason agreed with me, although I couldn't really tell. If you're going to go for it anyway, and the challenge is only going to net you at best half a yard, is it really worth it?
If the Chiefs lose that challenge, then they're down to one for the rest of the game. Now, I will grant you, challenges are not as vital as they used to be, because all turnovers and touchdowns are reviewed by the booth anyway, and you get penalized for challenging plays that are already automatically reviewed. Fine. Those big plays, no need to sweat the details. Wonderful.
But what about when you really need to challenge a spot, say a 4th and 2 call with 2:07 to play, that the officials rule a first down for your opponent, while you think he was clearly short of the line to gain? If you lost this first challenge when you were certain of the spot, do you lose your nerve in the second one? And what if you had to already use the second challenge for something, say a thirty yard pass gain where possession was questionable? Then you can't challenge the far more vital 4th and 2 with 2:07 to play.
That challenge was all level of baffling. Yes, the Chiefs won it. So what? Again, "Fat" Andy was going for the first down anyway! What did he really gain the Chiefs there, other than running one fewer play?
Which leads us to the next fourth down, three plays later -- 4th and 3 at the Cleveland 34. That's no-man's land; three possible choices, all with their risks and rewards.
"Fat" Andy can:
(a) Try the pooch punt, and pin the Browns deep.
Pros: Dusty C is phenomenally good at these, and your defense is your strength.
Cons: You're in scoring range, and fail to come away with points.
I only do (a) inside of five minutes to play, up by seven or more points. Anything less than knowing overtime is the worst case scenario from the punt (via a return, or a successful offensive drive afterwards), makes that play, uuh, unplayable for me.
(b) Try the 52 yard field goal.
Pros: Ryan Succup has the leg, and usually has the accuracy, to make it.
Cons: If you miss, you give the Browns the ball at virtually midfield. Also, the wind was strong in the west end zone yesterday, and it was not blowing in a direction that aided Succup's kick.
I'd choose (b) if I was up three to six points, depending on wind conditions, or if I was down three or fewer points, again depending on wind condition. The risk of missing it is too great for anything other than "if this kick is good, we probably win the game because of it" reasoning.
(c) Go for the first down.
Pros: It's a makeable distance. It would extend the drive. And you can always still try the field goal later, if you convert.
Cons: If you miss, you turn the ball over on downs.
But is that really a con? Let's say the Chiefs go for it there, and Alex Smith throws incomplete for Donnie Avery. Yes, the Browns get the ball back.
Same as if you miss the field goal.
And with eight additional yards to travel, in order to score.
I think (c) makes the most sense, in most circumstances, in that spot.
"Fat" Andy chose to kick.
Ryan Succup missed left.
Momentum moved from the shady side, to the sunny side of the field.
* And boy did it swing.
The Browns came out firing, with Jason Campbell hitting a nice pass for twenty yards to cross midfield, and then BANGO!
The Ol' Flea Flicker!!!
And this thing was a thing of beauty. Browns WR Josh Gordon was open, streaking to the east end zone. Jason Campbell hit him perfectly in stride. Just like that, after a ridiculous challenge, a poor decision, and a breakdown in coverage, the Browns are suddenly down less than a touchdown, despite the fact that at this point, they've had the ball for 6:13 of the 27:16 played.
Yes folks -- the Chiefs had a 21:00 to 6:00 edge in time of possession, a nearly 3 to 1 edge in yardage (212 to 71), and had yet to punt ... yet only led by six with less than three to play to the half, and the Browns get the ball coming out of the tunnel.
(Little Gulp.) (Gulp.) (Big Gulp.) (Super Big Gulp.)
* Chiefs take over at their own 28, and this? Folks, hang on, let me bring in the Vice President. Mr. Biden, would you care to share any prepared remarks?
(vice president biden voice) Folks! This offense got the job done! A three letter word -- done!
Thank you sir.
Six plays. All but one gained positive yardage. The final play being a sweet 28 yard touchdown bomb to Dexter McCluster, that is one of the best catches he's made in his career. That's how you answer a score from a stubborn underdog -- you come right back and give them the business, they just gave to you.
* And the Chiefs D sets themselves up nicely, quickly forcing third down. With two time outs still, if the Chiefs can get Cleveland off the field, they could conceivably get the ball back near midfield with :30 or so to play, and the chance to extend the lead.
It is on this play, that I began to notice the disturbing trend.
Man Cover One.
And worse yet -- the Chiefs are in a 5-2.
Look it, I don't mind man defense. I prefer a zone cover two shell, with occasional (bill raftery voice) MANTOMAN! principles. But if you're to play man, against a team with a couple receivers as good as Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron are, you HAVE to have safety help. You HAVE to. I don't care how good your corners are, you HAVE to support them if you're going to play man on quality receivers. Even Deion Sanders will tell you, Darren Woodson saved his ass countless times in Dallas, and Merton Hanks did the same in San Francisco. We have three decent to damned good safety options in Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, and Husain Abdullah*. What the hell is only one of them doing in support? Especially if you're going to load up in a 5-2 and blitz a corner (as the Chiefs did on this play) to force the action? All Jason Campbell has to do is stay upright for three steps, and somebody's going to be open with twenty plus yards of open real estate in front of him.
And that's exactly what happened. Campbell drew in the blitz, hit Josh Gordon in the vacated part of the defense, and fifty yards later, the Browns are in business.
It's the little things that determine a football game. For the better part of a quarter and a half yesterday -- from about the middle of the second quarter until late in the third one -- the Chiefs kept playing this cover one man shell. Constantly. They'd shift between 3-4, 4-3, and 5-2 (and even used a 5-4 once, moving Berry and Sean Smith into Justin Houston and Tamba Hali's slot, while they slid directly on the line opposite Mike DeVito and Tyson Jackson), but always -- always! -- went cover one.
Jason Campbell is too damned good of a quarterback, to leave the center of the defense exposed. And he exploited it every chance the Chiefs gave him to. Which was about a third of the game. And it damned near cost them, said game.
(*: his name led to a funny two minute conversation with The Voice of Reason and his dad ... or it was Jasson and his step-daughter; sorry, I was a few screwdrivers in. But the gist of the conversation was, have you ever known a person of anything other than Islamic faith named Husein or Akeem? Gotta admit, my answer was "no". Although I did take the full two minutes of time, to try to think of someone. Tailgating: where religious profiling occurs!)
* Browns kick a field goal as time virtually expires, to bring it to 20-10 at the half. For the half, the Chiefs had five possessions, and went:
Turnover On Downs.
They were humming along better than they have at any point this season.
Which makes the second half performance -- specifically, lack of performance by the offense -- absolutely baffling.
* Halftime! Oh Lord, what a debacle.
Look it, I know halftimes generally blow. It’s fifteen minutes of either (a) watching god awful entertainment, or (b) standing in a bathroom or beer line. (Or both.) And I will freely grant you, there are only two halftimes I look forward to each year, only one of which is guaranteed to happen – Alumni Weekend. (The other? Frisbee dogs. If you have never seen the Frisbee dogs? You have missed out man! You have missed out!)
Yesterday was another annual tradition, the Junior Cheerleaders taking the field with the real deal for ten minutes of torture. I had never watched this before from the upper deck. I’ve always been in the lower bowl for every prior Junior Cheerleaders performance, and considering I’ve missed (I believe) three Chiefs games that count in the last fifteen seasons, I’ve sat through some garbage.
This took the cake.
Most years, they trot these future “waitresses” at the “Outback Steakhouse” out during December, and do some big Christmas theme that manages to both offend the religious among us, and disgust the non-religious / don’t give a damn. So I guess they are uniters, not dividers? Or the opposite of Barack Hussein Obama*?
(*: I told you! I TOLD YOU there was at least one non-Muslim named some variation of Husein or Akeem! Eat it! Someone owes me a healthy heaping of Tommy Points, for that one!)
This year, they just went full on “abandon every last pretence of modesty and age-appropriate propriety” crazy, and put on one of the sleaziest performances in Arrowhead’s history.
I mean, who thinks putting a mini-skirt on an eight year old is a good idea, other than a Catholic priest? Who thinks having these kids gyrating around to some craptacular rapper waxing poetic about making it rain, or treating the male member like a lollipop, is a good thing?
And look it, I am no prude folks. Just read this site; I’ve never meet a tasteless porn, sex, poop, or racially insentive joke I’m afraid to post and laugh out loud to. Good grief, I just dropped a classless query about Islam --twice! -- in the last two pages. (Cue angry people in North Africa putting out videos wishing "Death to Stevo's Site Numero Dos!" in four, three, two ...)
But this site is not geared for eight year olds.
Furthermore, a National Football League game, is not geared towards eight year olds. It’s geared towards people like me: people who love sports, love to party, love to get our drink on, and have the disposable income, to enjoy sports, the tailgate party, and the libations.
Can you think of any 36 year old man, who wants to spend fifteen minutes watching kids his daughter’s ages (or close to his kids’ ages) gyrating on a football field, and then cheering it? If you can, please, keep your kids away from that guy. He’s not right.
Plus, who choreographed this thing? I get that they’re kids, by my God, they were off by five yards on their placings. Five yards! On the west end of the field, where they were supposed to (I think) go ten across, every few yards, there was no discernible pattern outside of the first row or two at the front of the back. The middle looked like a bigger mess than a bowl of Italian wedding soup. And nowhere near as tasty.
Chiefs? You hit on something last week, in just not doing anything for the half. Tell ya what, how about going forward, we reach a compromise. You give us Alumni Weekend, the Pee Wee football league weekend, one marching band weekend, the Frisbee dogs (if available), and … fine, I’ll be the bigger man here: one (of your choosing: Jazzercise / Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Council / God awful Christmas medley) weekend, and the other five? Do nothing.
Because guys? When your PA announcer has to ANNOUNCE OVER THE PA SYSTEM that halftime ends in two minutes, because so many people have fled to the concourse to flee what you’re offering?
Just a hint from your ol’ buddy Ol’ Stevo. You’re welcome in advance.
* Browns pick up right where they left off to open the second half – torching the cover one the Chiefs are in. Even Steve’s wife (who is quite nice, she’s just not as football literate as I would prefer my seat neighbor to be), even she noticed what I was pointing out, and asked why we kept running the same play when it clearly wasn’t working.
Their touchdown was a thing of beauty, and it was actually something worth admiring, because they basically stole the Chiefs touchdown pass to Dexter McCluster, and ran it themselves to Foswhitt Whittaker*, to pull to within three at 20-17, with a solid twenty five minutes to play.
Still though, you have to admire this. In the last EIGHT MINUTES of onfield action, you have seen:
* a flea flicker touchdown bomb from Cleveland to Gordon.
* a six play, 70 second touchdown drive from the Chiefs that ends in a long touchdown pass to McCluster.
* a fifty yard gain by Josh Gordon to set up a Cleveland field goal.
* an 86 yard Cleveland drive that ends with them basically running the Chiefs scoring play from six minutes earlier.
For two teams that make a combined two prime-time appearances this year, that’s getting some bang for your buck!
(*: I also had never heard the name Foswhitt before. I actually kind of like it, if only because you could call him “The Fos” or “Fossie” as a nickname. Foswhitt. Future Mrs. Stevo? I think I got the name of our second son! “The Fos”. TELL ME that isn’t awesome. Plus, Foswhitt sounds kind of royal, kind of important, right? Like he comes from dignity or old money? Which granted, would be the exact opposite of what Ol’ Foswhitt would be if he came from me, but still, I like this name.
And I didn’t even get into the obvious sweet phrase of expletives his first name could be parsed into, if you chose "text to columns" between the O, and the S.
Plus, his last name is Whittaker. Which raises more questions. Like, did his folks each pick half of his first name, and his mom or dad was so lazy, they just said “what”?, and the other half took it to be “whitt”? I feel a Google search for Foswhitt’s origin coming on tonight. Oh, and the answers to the two obvious questions this side rant raises is “yes”, and “heavily”.)
* And just as great as the last eight minutes were? The next twelve were that atrocious.
Here’s how things went, after the Cleveland touchdown:
* Chiefs: 5 plays, 12 yards, punt.
* Browns: 7 plays, 23 yards, punt.
* Chiefs: 4 plays, 3 yards, punt, with two Cleveland holds on the punt to boot.
* Browns: 7 plays, 32 yards, punt, with a Chiefs hold on the punt to boot.
* Chiefs: 6 plays, 6 yards, punt, with a running into the kicker penalty to boot.
* Browns: 7 plays, 23 yards, punt, with a Chiefs hold on the punt to boot.
* Chiefs: 5 plays, 9 yards, punt.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – we are all professionals here.
* But the last Chiefs punt, swung some excitement back into this snoozer, as the Browns muff the punt near midfield, and the Chiefs recover the ball at their own 47.
FINALLY, with a little under six minutes to go, the Chiefs, clinging to a three point lead, can finally get some separation, right? We’ve seen this – the Giants game. A scrappy underdog holding their own, until a special teams play opens the floodgates.
Uuh, not Sunday. The Chiefs do manage a first down, before Jon Asomoah stalls the momentum with an idiotic holding call (and it was blatant), and the Chiefs punt with four minutes to play, putting their fate in the hands of the defense once again.
Cue the title of the post.
* I’d be remiss if I didn’t note this: the left side of the line yesterday was putrid. It was five day old rotted garbage stinky. Branden Albert clearly is not healthy. He’s routinely getting tuned around the end. And Jon Asomoah had at least three horrific whiffs yesterday, plus two costly penalties. Conversely, the right side of the line held up fairly well, I thought.
I get it – this is a young team. Albert is your seasoned citizen on the line, and this is his sixth year. At some point, it’s going to click, and then you’ll see this offense truly function.
And it better happen quick – we’re about to enter the most difficult month of football we are guaranteed to play, all season: at The Ralph, at fake mile high, versus a rejuvenated Phyllis Rivers and the Chargers, and then the donkeys on December 1st. Sh*t’s ‘bout to get interesting, yo.
* So cue the scene. 1st and 10 Browns at their own 16, 3:55 to go. Chiefs 20, Browns 17. (If I threw in a random naughty word, followed by an “on the Chiefs Fox Football Radio Network”? That opening line there could have been said by Mitch and Len. Damn, I’m good.)
This, ladies and gentlemen, peoples and peepettes? This is where we’ve earned our reputation. This is where great quarterbacks go to die. And while no one will ever accuse Jason Campbell of being a great quarterback, he’s not half bad. He’s probably in the 15-20 range of starters in this league, closer to 15 than 20, if we’re being honest.
Almost instantly, the fans force a false start on Cleveland, although Jason Campbell overcomes it with a sweet throw to Jordan Cameron on 3rd and long to convert.
After a holding call, it’s 2nd and 20 at the Browns 18. It’s all set up. And the Chiefs deliver. Sack! Fumble! Recovery! Justin Houston strips the ball, DJ falls on it! Ballgame!
“Neutral zone infraction, number ninety one, defense.”
God bless it.
I thought it was a questionable flag … but I could see the call. Still, Arrowhead was not happy after that.
And in the upper deck, around this Chiefs season ticket holder, as the crowd rose up, and began to pound the seatbacks, scream ourselves hoarse, and let Jason Campbell know that was just the appetizer for what was to come, I noticed something I had never heard before.
A chant, just creative enough, just innovative and neat enough, that I couldn’t help it. I joined in.
(And not, it wasn’t the “DONKEYS SUCK!” chant someone got going at the tool in the wes welker jersey in row 4. You’re a tool dude. A freaking tool. Hopefully someone did things to that jersey that would make the legendary Tawny Roberts blush with shame.)
It wasn’t just DE-FENSE being yelled.
It was something more.
* The Chiefs held, although the Browns made it interesting by leaving exactly 2:01 on the clock when they turned it over on downs. You’re damned right I had flashbacks to “The Stand” eight years ago, when Shanarat nearly stole a game here that he’d just lost via a replay decision gone against him, because Shanarat is that damned smart sometimes.
The Chiefs take the gimme field goal to go up by your final margin, and after two harmless plays, the clocks strike zero, and we’re all winners here.
* Not much to report post game. I was the last one to return to the Bus. Everyone else was already standing around, enjoying a beer or two. Decided not to haul the stereo out, but there may have been a lil’ “Dancing on the Ceiling” playing on my iPhone walking back to the spot of heaven known as the grassy knoll of G30.
Someone offered me a Coors Light when I got there. Come on, man! We do this right! I marched on the Bus, grabbed a beautiful bottle of Martini & Rossi (hey, eight and oh – we classed it up this week. Sorry, Cook’s and Andre’s. We’ll invite you two back for San Diego in three weeks, deal? Deal.), and popped that cork open.
And about twenty minutes later, it was off for the postgame festivities.
Not much from the post party. Mona made a sweet bowl of steak soup, since she figured we wouldn’t want biscuits and gravy and leftover bacon, ham, and pork chops.
She guessed wrong.
Well, I went for the steak soup. Anthony tore into the biscuits and gravy like they were going the way the Twinkee did a few months ago.
I got home a little after 5:30, watched a fabulous episode of “The Good Wife”*, then hit the pillows for the 6am wake up call.
Eight and oh. Eight and oh.
(kevin harlan voice) Oh baby, what a team!
(*: I like both “The Good Wife” and “The Mentalist”, but tend to miss the first eight, nine episodes opposite football. I also tend to miss “The Amazing Race” fall season for the same way, although I’m always all-in for the spring edition.
I saw the previews for this week’s episode, and when both Alan Sepinwall AND Ed Bark are calling it “the best hour of network television this year”, I’ll tune in. It was PHENOMENAL. All I can say is this: I have rarely, if ever, related to a character on TV like I did Josh Charles’ Will Gardner last night. Good God, do I relate to his reaction to what went down! Again -- my Lord, how I've wanted to have a reaction like that, to two certain people in my life. That first fourteen minutes last night, was the single happiest moment of my year. Sadly, I'm probably not joking. Seeing betrayal and lying and hypocrisy have its face shoved in it, just SHOVED in it, like Will Gardner did to Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos and "The Other Cary", was just AWESOME!
If you catch no hour of network TV all season, please – even if you’ve never seen the show, watch this episode. (Note: link available until Sunday, November 3rd, 2013. Then you'll have to search for it.)
THIS? Is dramatic television at its finest. And remember folks – they’re working with the censoring hand of the FCC over them at all times, unlike cable.
God, this was great!)
The only development that surprised me all day, was right as we were getting ready to leave.
And it’s what I choose to close with.
Because sometimes, life is simple.
Sometimes ... hang on, let me throw the closing three lines from this awesome song that is today's theme, to express things:
"Love's such a delicate thing that we do --
With nothing to prove.
Which I never knew ..."
I’m usually the last one to get back on the Bus. Part of it is because, if need be, I sacrifice myself by wandering out into traffic, to give Russ a line off the grass. Part of it is also because I have to grab the flagpole, and pull the step up, before we can take off. And partly it’s because I act as Russ’ eyes and ears for the massive blind spot the right side is, once you get onto Stadium Drive, because of how the exit from the stadium is set up. (So if you ever see a hot-as-holy-hell 36 year old in a Jets hat sticking his head out of the door portal of a 1963 Dodge school bus, feel free to say hello! And try not to treat my head like a piñata, ok?)
But mostly, it’s because of the same reason, I’m usually the first one off the Bus, when we get there.
I love this place. I love this team. This is my passion in life.
Well, that’s not fair. I love booze, crappy late 1970s / early 1980s sitcoms, rainy Saturday mornings snuggled up under the covers with a quality chica and a “90210” or “One Tree Hill” marathon as the background noise ... but honestly, I love any chance I get to spend good time with good people and good friends, having good amounts of fun.
That’s what life is about. Is relationships.
That’s why this team, the experience that is Chiefs football, means so much to me. I have said before that “I’d renew every year, even if they went 1-15, so long as the one is denver at home”. (And God, we nearly tested that theory in 2008. God bless you oakland on the road!)
I love the GameDay experience. I love spending the time I do with the “family of my choosing”.
Those of you who know me well, know I do not believe in coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. There are no accidents in life. (Well, my folks may disagree after 36 years of me, but still, you get my point.)
There is no such thing as coincidence. Even if you never find out WHY life plays out as it does, it does play out for a reason.
And I have to admit, there are times I question our tailgating insanity.
Sunday, I got it. Sunday, this all made sense.
After pushing twenty years, the "Arrowhead Experience", as I like to dub it, made sense.
Because as I was doing the final inspections, and headed towards the front of the Bus to grab the flagpost and pull the step up, Ron’s son, whose name I can never remember, but I know it begins with a R (I’m thinking Ryan – they’re all an R – Ron, Ray, Rick, Roger. We even met Uncle Roy on Sunday. Jesus, throw in a vowel already guys), anyway, the dude is nicknamed “Moses”, for reference from previous posts.
I love the guy. (And the hot-as-hell girlfriend from last year was there yesterday, with friends! Please, come back for the donkeys game, when I haul out the one guaranteed “yup, Stevo got at least one kiss this year” tried and true pathetic mistletoe that for some reason, the chicks dig every year. It’s that, or the Santa hat. Either way, December 1, December 22. It’s happening.)
He approached me to say goodbye, asked if we were going to denver (we’re strongly leaning “yes”, despite the cost), and then simply said “well, if you and your Dad go, give us a call, my dad (Ron) and I would love to go with ya.”
“If you and your Dad go.”
My dad, won’t be going. His health won’t let him. It’s why if you’re lucky, you see him once, maybe twice a year at games. My dad wasn't even there physically yesterday. (And I’m guessing you won’t see him at any this year.)
But the bond between me and Russ is so strong apparently, that Moses thinks he's my dad. And the love between my second parents and I is so strong, and so evident, that damned near everyone who swings by, has made that mistaken assumption before, unless you knew better before hand.
That’s what Chiefs football, means to me. It’s why I care so damned much about this team. It’s why I’m willing to be called a “drunken fool” by the parking attendant at 6:40am as we ride through the gate. (Buddy, you can call me anything you want, as long as you don’t charge that $38 upgrade for being a Bus. Plus, he said it as part of a joke that was laugh out loud funny, so it’s all good.)
It’s the chance to spend time with the family of your choosing. I know I'll board a bus -- rain, sleet, snow or shine -- at 6:30am with my second parents, Susan, and Anthony and Jaimmie, the "brother and sister" of the "family", if you will.
I know I’ll see “The Voice of Reason” and … hmmm. We need a nickname for Gordon. Let me noodle that a little bit. But Chiefs football means I know I’ll see one of the best friends a guy could ever have for a while. We’ll laugh. We’ll crack tasteless jokes. (Seriously, playing the “Randall Carlyle Wakefield” card in regards to the Lot G parking fiascos was priceless.)
And I’ll see Jasson, the third member of “my generation of tailgating”, as well.
And Gregg’s dad will look at us, as my dad does, as Jasson’s did, and think “what in the hell are they talking about?”, in clueless oblivion at what makes us laugh half the time.
Because this is about friendship, about family, about spending time with those who make you, who you are.
After everything I’ve been through dealing with my dad’s issues the last three weeks, to be told in that moment “give us a call, we’d love to go with you and your family”, meant a LOT to me.
I nearly lost my father 22 days ago. Scratch that – I did lose him, twice. Once for ten painful minutes, once for 62 some odd painful hours.
I cannot express how thankful I am, that there’s one epic replacement to choose, when the time someday comes.
And how damned thankful I am, that time isn’t here just yet ...