Tuesday, March 4, 2014

chiefs! colts! part dos! where once again, we've been there, done that ...

“Girl, you and me?  
Ain’t talking much.
I just slam the door,
And leave in my truck.

There ain’t nothing left for us –
I think enough’s?  Enough.

I look down, see your name
There on my phone.
Then I hit ignore,
And just drive on.

We’ve been living like this too long;
And there ain’t no reason,
To turn around.
Baby?  You can have it all …

Well I ain’t, I ain’t, coming back!
I’ve already been there, done that!
And I’m done with you messing with my mind;
The last time’s, the last time, baby!

I can only change who I am so much!
And all I can give is all my love!
But my love ain’t never been enough,
So I ain’t coming back –

I’ve been there, done that! …”

“Been There, Done That” by Luke Bryan.  No, do NOT read into the theme of the post, what isn’t there.  I’ve not only renewed my season ticket … I bought the second one again, to ensure someone has to suffer next to me every game next season.  Cue my brother and/or Damien dropping the “aw, sh*t!  That’s me five times!” agony of regret voice in five … four … three …

--------------------

Well, it only took me seven weeks of nightly therapy with Stevo's Site Numero Dos' Official Minister, the Rev. Al K. Hall, to finally recap the Chiefs / Colts wildcard game.  If you missed the recap of everything up to kickoff, you can click here for Part Uno.

The sad thing is, I remember every damned detail of that second half like it happened yesterday.  Mind you, 92.54% of the time, I couldn't remember what I had for lunch today*.  But the last 25 minutes of that game, played out over two of the most excruciating hours of my life?  I'll never forget.  Well, at least until years of therapy with Rev. Hall finally make me senile.

As for the game recap itself, I'm going to simply make notes of what I was thinking when the play I bring up occurred.  Because again, I will never forget damned near any aspect of this game, for as long as I live.

(*: for the record, I had a BLT sandwich on a crossaint, a cup of twice baked potato soup, and a Gold Peak Iced Tea in the 52 oz QuikTrip cup.  Cost me a whopping $6.52.  A freaking steal!)

* "Oh sh*t." -- me, to noone in particular, when I received a text from Damien that Jamaal Charles had suffered a concussion, and his return was doubtful.

I mean, are you kidding me?  (dick vitale voice) Are you kidding me?!?!  First series, only the sixth play of the game, and the franchise goes down?  From my seat (in the end zone the Chiefs were driving towards on that play), it looked like a typical running play off the right end.  Handoff, gain seven, tackle.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Only Jamaal Charles was just laying there.  And he wasn't moving.

Don't believe me?


(25 has fallen, and he can't get up.  Photo: either me or Mona, via the Canon digital camera.)

As if that wasn't bad enough -- the fear and doubt I was beginning to fear, reached full-on panic mode, when Ty (the Colts fan next to me) asked "who's your backup (to Charles)?", and the thought of Knile "Fumble" Davis now being our featured back became reality.  Admit it -- even the most die-hard of Chiefs fan, even the most irrationally confident Chiefs fan, a fan who never believes the Chiefs are going to lose, even if they have no chance to win (hey, that's me!), even they had to choke the panic down.

Once Jamaal reached the sidelines, I have to admit, I loved that "Fat" Andy Reid and Doug Pederson (the offensive coordinator) immediately called the next play for Knile "Fumble" Davis.  Davis had a couple touches on the drive, and the drive ended on a beautiful Dwayne Bowe touchdown pass, to put the Chiefs up early 7-0.

* "These guys couldn't stop up a toilet, let alone this offense." -- me, to noone in particular, after Andrew Luck carved up the Chiefs on the Colts first drive.

Here, the play by play (via NFL's GameCenter) of the Colts first drive:

* Short pass for 12 yards.
* Short pass for 5 yards.
* Short pass for 24 yards.
* Short pass for no gain.
* Short pass for 18 yards.
* Short pass for 5 yards.
* Short pass for 10 yards and the touchdown.

Notice a pattern there?  Everything Luck threw on that drive was a short, quick pass ... and our defense allowed decent gains on all but one of those plays.

Also, notice another pattern there?  Zero runs.  The Colts threw out there right from the start how they were going to play this game -- namely, they were going to throw early, and often.  Not a hint of a running game.  In the Colts defense, as Ty noted: "Trent Richardson is not good."  No.  No he's not.

Tied at 7, 10 minutes in.  Neither team's defense had forced a negative play yet -- the only play that hadn't gained yardage on either side, was the tackle for no gain.  It was still a completed pass, just a good tackle.  A sign of things to come -- namely, that this was going to be a classic, where the last team with the ball, wins.

Just like every other damned playoff game we've lost to these guys over the last twenty years.

* "This is a mistake that will bite us in the ass." -- me, to noone in particular, when Ryan Succup attempted (successfully) a 19 yard field goal try, from the Colts one yard line, on the ensuing drive.

There's only one time when kicking from the one, isn't a mistake, and that's if it is (a) for all intents and purposes, the final play of the game, and (b) you're either tied, down one, or down two.  Otherwise, you go for it.  Every time. 

I'd like to say I was clairvoyant, prescient, or psychic with that statement.  But when you simply identify reality as it exists, it's not really stunning to be proven right.

Chiefs 10, Colts 7, waning moments of the 1st Quarter.

* "Holy sh*t!  Is that ... holy sh*t!  Donnie Avery!  I thought he was dead or something!" -- me, to noone in particular, on his 79 yard touchdown bomb to open the second quarter.

So wait -- you're telling me that Donnie Avery, a man who dropped every damned ball thrown in his direction all season long, a man who struggles to get separation from any even semi-competent member of the secondary, and a man not exactly known for blazing speed, somehow, someway, gets behind the Colts defense, catches Alex Smith's beyond beautiful bomb in stride twenty yards down the field, and there isn't a Colts defender within a six zip code radius to tackle him?  That Donnie Avery?  Really? 

Let's just say, I took this as a good sign.  A very good sign.  And it was about to get better.

Chiefs 17, Colts 7, opening moments of the 2nd Quarter.

* "God d*mmit!  (Pounds, and I mean POUNDS, seat in front of him.)  You worthless piece of f*cking sh*t!  I f*cking hate you!  I F*CKING HATE YOU!  (Pounds, and I mean POUNDS, seat in front of him.)  Bench his ass!  Bench!  His!  Mother!  F*cking!  Ass!" (Pounds, and I mean POUNDS, seat in front of him.)  -- Ty, after Trent Richardson, on his first carry of the game, which turned out to be his only carry of the game, and the first play after the Avery touchdown, promptly puts the ball on the ground.  Justin Houston recovers the fumble, and returns it to the Colts 17.

Let's just say, Ty is not a member of the Trent Richardson Fan Club.

Oh, and I love people who irrationally react / over-react, to anything their team does. 

After a Knile Davis 13 yard run, Alex Smith hits Anthony Sherman in the center of the end zone, who holds on through the jarring hit. 

Chiefs 24, Colts 7, not even two minutes into the 2nd Quarter.

* “That might be the most brilliant play call I’ve seen all year.  (Pause.)  (Pounds, and I mean POUNDS, seat in front of him.)  Brilliant!” – me, to Ty, Russ, Mona, and anyone else in the listening vicinity, after Andrew Luck pulls off one of, if not the, greatest fake handoffs I’ve ever seen, on 4th and 1 at midfield, midway through the 2nd quarter.

I don’t even know where to begin on this play, other than to note, it was so brilliantly called, so brilliantly executed, so (bleeping) brilliant …

… that the Chiefs stole this EXACT PLAY, and used it two quarters later, on their own “4th and 1, going for it”, with the game in the balance.

Andrew Luck faked the handoff offtackle to Trent Richardson.  The play fake was so gorgeous, every person in the stadium fell for it, including 21 of the 22 guys on the freaking field of play.  There was no blocking in front of Mr. Luck.  No guard pulling, no tackle pulling, not even a tight end setting a screen.

It was Andrew Luck, at the line of scrimmage, seeing the sell-out for the middle draw or offtackle, deciding “screw it, I can do this”, and executing perfection for 21 yards.

The Colts kicked a field goal.  Chiefs 24, Colts 10, mid 2nd Quarter.

And in case you doubt me as to this play’s brilliance?

When was the last time I EVER credited the “enemy”, with brilliance?

* "If we win this game, I will publically thank peyton manning, for making last week a glorified scrimmage." -- me, to Russ and Mona, after Knile Davis pounds it in, capping a gorgeous 15 play, 80 yard, 8 minute drive, to put the Chiefs up 31-10 right after the two minute warning.

Knile Davis starting, and having a solid day the week before, against a team in a "win and you're in" situation, at home to boot, certainly did wonders for his confidence.  That confidence boosting performance was only possible, because peyton manning beat the Chiefs twice, and relegated us to Wildcardville.  Hence my appreciation.

Also, and here's your trivia fact of the post: 28 minutes into this game, the Chiefs have just matched the most points they've ever scored in a playoff game in franchise history.  Ironically, that 31 point outing?  January 11, 2004, against ... the Indianapolis Colts.

Just like that 2004 afternoon, the Chiefs had yet to punt.  Five possessions, four touchdowns, and a field goal that would come back to bite us in the ass.  I'd argue that first half, may have been not just the most impressive of the season ... it might be the single most impressive first half of football in franchise history.  And the Chiefs will play Year Fifty Five next season.

* "God d*mmit!  You would pick this day to deliver your first horsesh*t performance!" -- Ty, after Andrew Luck threw an interception to Brandon Flowers, to all but end the first half.

I have to confess, I was thinking the same thing.  I've seen Luck play in person twice prior to this game, and watched him quite a few times on TV.  This was by far and away the worst performance of his career.

Chiefs 31, Colts 10, Halftime.

* "USA!  USA!  USA!" -- Lucas Oil Stadium crowd, as halftime ended.

Your halftime performance was the US Marine Corps Drill Team.  It was awesome.  Not "Shawsome", but close enough.

* "(Cue the "If Looks Could Kill, Andrew Luck Would Be Deader Than A Doornail Right Now" death stare.)" -- Ty, after Andrew Luck opens the half by throwing an interception to Husain Abdullah, to open the second half.

To Mr. Abdullah's credit, that was NOT an easy interception.  To Andrew Luck's detriment, that pass wasn't within three feet of his target.

Three plays later, Knile Davis catches a wheel route right, and rumbles ten yards to the end zone for the touchdown.  At the risk of giving the ending away, keep this play in mind.  File this bad boy under the "we're coming back to this in a few paragraphs ... ok, fine pages" department.  Because we are coming back to it.

Chiefs 38, Colts 10, six seconds into the second half.

* "(Cue the "Stand There, Both Arms Stretched Straight Up To the Sky, With a Gigantic Sh*t Eating, "This Isn't Happening!" Look of Joy and Happiness" Reaction.)" -- me, after the Knile Davis touchdown.

I can't help it folks.  I sincerely, genuinely and sincerely believed, that was the ballgame.  I sincerely, genuinely and sincerely believed, that was the "Dandy" Don Meredith "Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over" Memorial Moment of Ecstasy.

In the words of my buddy Pickell, “put it this way”: our group of Chiefs fans was so confident this game was over, we made the decision that if either (a) the Colts didn’t score on the ensuing drive, or (b) the Chiefs scored again in the next five minutes, we were leaving, to avoid Snowmageddon 2014 on the way later that evening.

Let that sink in, especially to those of you who know me best.  I was so confident that the Chiefs were going to win their first playoff game since I was a junior in high school (and I turned 37 on this road trip for God’s sake), that I was perfectly prepared to celebrate the fourth quarter, getting the hell out of Indy before Sherman’s troops stormed the gates of the city.

The lesson?  As always, if I’m THAT confident about something …


(photo credit: me or Mona, via the Canon digital camera.  No, that score, time, and quarter is NOT a typo ... and yes, there was that much red, inside the stadium.)

* Ooh, a back-and-forth!

“How the hell does (Rogers) get so open?” – Ty.
“Because our secondary is leakier than a baby without a diaper.” – Me.

The Colts answer, quickly, which is going to become the theme of the second half at this point, the rapid-fire response of Indy to everything the Chiefs did.

Down 28, in the second half, you have to press.  Indy moved 80 yards in less than two minutes, capping a drive that saw a 50 yard completion with a 10 yard draw play that the lane up the middle was so unclogged, Drano should have sponsored said draw play.

Chiefs 38, Colts 17, 12 minutes to go in the 3rd Quarter.  And things are about to get interesting.

* “If that’s a recovery, I don’t know this sport.” – me, after Alex Smith was ruled to have fumbled (which he did), but the officiating crew ruled the Colts recovered the fumble before falling out of bounds.

If it wasn’t for the “wait for it, we’re coming back to it” play from a few paragraphs ago, to say nothing of the “once in a generation” play that kept Indy in this thing still to come?

THIS is the moment that would haunt me.

Because Robert Mathis’ ass was CLEARLY lying on the gigantic white stripe signaling “sideline”, when he finally corralled the fumble.  This wasn’t a Chiefs / raiders 1997 Monday Nighter, when the announcers were so befuddled by what passes as a NFL stadium in oakland, that they openly admitted they could not find “the definition of the sideline”. 

His ass.  Was lying.  On the sideline.  When he recovered the fumble.

Maybe the white on white befuddled Walt Anderson’s crew.  Because Walt is amongst what I would consider to be the four best head ref’s in the NFL today (along with, in no particular order, Gene Stenatore, Bill Leavy, and and Terry McAuley (who worked this year’s Super Bowl, deservedly so).)  But this was inexcusable.

Again – Robert Mathis’ ass was lying on the white “chalk” of the sideline, when he recovered the fumble.

Replay upheld the fumble recovery for Indy.

If it wasn’t for two moments yet to occur, this one would haunt me to my grave.

Instead, it just led to a short field touchdown.

Chiefs 38, Colts 24, midway through the 3rd Quarter.  This game just got interesting.

* “Are you sh*tting me!  Are you sh*tting me?!?!?!  (Looks to the roof in utter frustration and anger.)  Are you f*cking sh*tting me!” – Ty, after Andrew Luck throws his third interception of the game, still trailing 38-24.

The Colts forced a three and out after the touchdown.  When, as Russ kept taunting him, “Lucky, Lucky, Lucky!” threw his second “first play from scrimmage interception” of the half, once again to Husain Abdullah. 

Just when you think Indy got back into it?

We had the chance to deliver a knockout blow.

The Chiefs settle for a three and out field goal.  Yet another “Golden Toe” missed opportunity to put this bad boy to the grave.

Chiefs 41, Colts 24, 19 minutes to play.

* “He’s more wide open than a fly at a gay bar!” – Ty, to me, after Coby Fleener caught a touchdown pass to pull the Colts to within 10.

Screw that.  (Pause.)  Yeah, gotta do it.  (Pause.) 

(Rimshot!)

He was so wide open, Madonna is jealous.  (Pause.)  Fine.  (Rimshot!)

He was so wide open, the Grand Canyon wants it’s opening back.

Your culprit on the play?

Husain Abdullah*.

Of COURSE it’d be Husain Abdullah, the dude who had two Luck INT’s in ten minutes.

I’ve said it before … I said it on January 4th … and I’ll say it again …

* “Only the Chiefs could find a way, to lose this game.” – me, countless times to countless people, as “The Collapse” was occurring.

(*: without question, my favorite moment of the season, was “The Voice of Reason” dropping the “name one person with a Muslim sounding name, that isn’t a Muslim” blast at the Chargers tailgate.  My immediate response?  “Barack Hussein Obama”.  I don’t have to be proud of that … but damn if it ain’t accurate.)

* “Lord, you can take me now, I have seen it all!” – Dan Dierdorf, on October 17, 1994, in the greatest Monday Night Football game ever played (Chiefs 31, donkeys 28, at Real Mile High).

Fine, I quoted that in a bastardized way, as the Chiefs, backed up to the goalline, facing a crucial do or die stand, up ten, early in the 4th quarter, actually came through.  Eric Berry forced the fumble, from someone other than Trent Richardson to boot. 

Eric Berry forced the fumble.  For the fifth time that afternoon, the defense had separated the ball from the Colts offense.  The prior four separations, the Chiefs recovered, and posted 24 points on the board because of them.

Then ... came numero cinco.

* "God f*cking d*mmit!  (Pounds, and I mean POUNDS, seat in front of him.)  God f*cking d*mmit!" -- me, to noone in particular, as Andrew Luck picked up the fumble, off the center's helmet, and went diving over the offensive line into the end zone.

There are moments, plays, in your life as a sports fan, that you look back on, and just shake your head in disgust at.  As Chiefs fans, we have our fair share.  You tell me – (oskar schindler voice) you tell me! – which of these plays from the last 20 years, all of which have seen the Chiefs fail to win even one playoff game, hurt the most:

* pick a field goal attempt by Lin Elliott, vs Colts, 1995 Divisional Round.
* 4th and 6 incompletion to Lake Dawson, vs broncos, 1997 Divisional Round.
* missed field goal from 44 by Pete Stoyanovich, vs raiders, 1999 week 17.
* pick a defensive series, vs Colts, 2003 Divisional Round.
* 4th and goal, at Cowboys, 2005 week 14.
* first play of overtime (bomb to heyward-bey), vs raiders, 2011 week 16.
* the Andrew Luck fumble recovery, 2013 Wildcard Round.

And in fairness, I left out about 15,320 other plays from the last 20 years, that lead you to scream in horror.

For the record, the third in that listing, hurts me the most.  But damn, seeing Andrew Luck recover that fumble, and take it to the house, hurt a lot.

Especially my hand, and that poor, poor chair in row 2 in front of me.

Chiefs 41, Colts 38, ten minutes to play, 4th Quarter.

* “Win or lose?  We’ve got our franchise quarterback.  Maybe.  Possibly.  OK, hopefully.  But still, this is the best played game by a Chiefs quarterback I’ve ever had the privilege to attend!” – me, to Ty, after Alex Smith kept marching the Chiefs down the field, after the Luck Fumblerooskie touchdown.

I actually want to back up a bit, to the play that I feel swung the ballgame once and for all to the Colts.  To be honest, until I verified how I remembered things via the NFL GameCenter thingy, I honestly though that play, occurred on the ensuing drive after the Luck fumble recovery touchdown.  Turns out, it happened the drive before.

The play?  Recycled from the second quarter.  A wheel route right to the running back, wide open in the flat.  In the second quarter, Knile Davis caught the ball and sprinted for six.

In the fourth quarter, Cyrus Gray was open.  He was WIDE open.  The pass was there … for Knile Davis, or Jamaal Charles.  But Mr. Gray just isn’t fast enough, to make the play work.

When that pass fell incomplete, I just knew, somehow, that would kill us.  We can debate whether kicking the 19 yard field goal in the second quarter was the fatal play call (I think it was), but this missed opportunity?

Was crucial.

And yet, despite the Luck, uuh, “lucky” touchdown, despite the crowd noise*, despite the feeling of surging Colts momentum / fading Chiefs hopes, there was Alex Smith, somehow keeping his head amidst the chaos surrounding him.  Calmly, methodically, driving the Chiefs down the field.

Oh, and the Chiefs are now down to their third string running back, because Knile Davis suffered a gruesome injury on the second play of this drive, that ended his season, and I pray to God it doesn’t end the promising career he had entering that play, based on his incredible efforts at San Diego and Indy those last two games.

Because five minutes later, after two clutch third down conversions via some pretty throws (especially the pass over the center to Jenkins that went for almost 30 on 3rd and 5, an obvious passing down, Ryan Succup had delivered yet again.  Three for three on field goals.  On the road.  In the nuthouse that Lucas Oil Stadium had become.

Chiefs 44, Colts 38, 5:36 to play.

(*: I will give Colts fans this.  And those of you who know me best, know I rarely if ever compliment the enemy’s fans.  NOBODY left at 38-10.  NOBODY.  Every Colts fan in that building truly believed Andrew Luck could pull off, what he pulled off.  That’s what having a franchise quarterback, can do for you.  For what it’s worth, I think the Chiefs found theirs, in defeat.

And if you don't believe me nobody left -- go back to the previous picture, at 38-10 in the second half, and you identify a single empty seat, in the 600 (aka "nose bleed") section of the end zone opposite where I sat.  Good luck finding one.)

* “Too much time.  We left you too much time.” – me, to Ty, after the Succup field goal put the Chiefs up six.

Given that it only took Andrew Luck one minute and fifteen seconds to lead the Colts to their sixth touchdown on the day, I’d say that was an understatement.

As soon as Luck launched that bomb to TY Hilton, both Ty (the guy next to me) and I literally screamed the same thing.  “Jesus, he’s open!”  That collapse by the secondary (and I believe Marcus Cooper was on the coverage, but it may have been Dunta Robinson), was the straw that should have broke the camel’s back. 

Which is why Ty’s reaction to that play, still makes me smile … in a “God bless it, he was right …” kind of way.

* “We left YOU too much time!” – Ty, to me, before the kickoff after the Colts took a 45-44 lead with 4:20 to play.

And for three plays, I thought he was right.  Alex Smith was calmly, methodically, driving the Chiefs down the field.  It took two plays to cross midfield.  By the third play, a 1st and 10 run for 3 by Cyrus Gray, the Chiefs were at what I thought was the outer limits of Ryan Succup’s reach, the Indy 39.  It’d have been 57 from there.  Indoors, you try it if you don’t gain another yard.  Because you’re only down one, and, gee, uum, let me turn to another Chiefs “expert”, to explain why you’d try the field goal from 57, if it came to it.

(“The Voice of Reason” voice) IT’S THE PLAYOFFS!

Then came the fourth play.

(walt anderson voice) “Intentional grounding, number 11, offense …”

I have rewatched this play at least 54,362 times in the last seven weeks.

I have yet to see a shred of evidence, that Alex Smith’s arm was not mauled, like a grizzley bear eating a salmon, as he attempted that second down pass.

I have rarely been as irate at a call, as I was at that one.  Especially since it took Walt Anderson almost thirty seconds to decide to throw the flag, after the play was effectively over.

I know some Chiefs fans have focused on the atrocious timeout strategory of “Fat” Andy Reid.  And I don’t mean to discredit the criticism; nobody, and I mean NOBODY, hates incompetent clock management than me.

But honestly?  It’s 4th and 11.  The season is on the line.  You use your final timeout to get the play as right as humanly possible.

And if we’re being honest?  If I was in “Fat” Andy Reid’s position, facing 4th and 11 at the Colts 43?  I’d call the timeout too …

… because I would seriously have contemplated trotting Ryan Succup out there, to try the 61 yard field goal.

And not only would I seriously have contemplated it …

* “If “Fat” Andy called this timeout to send in Succup, he’s earned his salary.” – me, to noone in particular, as the Chiefs called a timeout, while in the two minute warning timeout.

I will admit, I was having flashbacks to one of the greatest games in Chiefs history, donkeys at Chiefs, week 12 1997.  The “Pete for President” Game.  The “I Love You Man!” Game.  The “I Don’t Think (This Kick) Saved the Season; I Didn’t Know the Season Needed To Be Saved!” Game.

Just like Dick Gannon went back to that five yard out pattern to Andre Rison, to get just close enough for Marty and his braintrust to haul out their Fidelity Ad guy voice and decide “why not!” … the third down play to McCluster, to get the Chiefs to within a 60 yard attempt, was giving me flashbacks to the greatest season of my lifetime.

Cue the season on the line.

* “Sh*t!  He’s open!” – Ty, as that fourth down play opened.

Yes, yes Dwayne Bowe – who turned in his finest day as a pro – was open.

* “Sh*t!  He overthrew it!” – me, as that fourth down pass was thrown.

Because it was overthrown … although to be fair, the Colts defender had closed to defendable range, by the time the ball hit its downward descent.

And with that, the Chiefs season died.

And with that, the misery that would be the next 10 hours of my existence, began.

* “We’ll deal with this in six months, with a case of beer and a day on the lake.” – my buddy Ryan, as we all headed back to our cars after the game.

It’s not exactly a closely guarded government state secret, that the person I used to consider to be my best friend (that would be “The Champ”) and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms anymore.  Three weeks ago, I had to attend a funeral for a former co-worker of ours’ family member, and while riding out to the service, my former boss Lucy asked “so, what’s up with you guys?”

My response was “we’re both too arrogant, stupid, and stubborn, to admit we were wrong.”  Which is true.  Dusty and I are more dug in, than Lee and Grant at Petersburg, at this point.  (Which is not a good thing.  And I once again apologize to those of you trapped in the middle.  Again, I will never make you pick a side.  You have my promise.  Which is probably more worthless than the Confederate dollar when Grant pinned Lee down at Petersburg, but still.)

If you’d told me ten months ago, that a dude I called “Moses”, because (a) I am horrible with names, and (b) when he had his full on beard up until this year, he sorta kinda looked like Moses, or at least a refugee from "Duck Dynasty", if you’d told me a tailgating friend would come to mean what Ryan has, I’d have laughed.

If I’ve learned anything in the last four months … it’s that God sometimes works in ways that only make sense to Him.

(Pause).

No wonder I’m starting to reconsider my long-standing objection to religion of any kind, being an influence in my life.

Speaking of a long-standing objection of something that turned out to be a major influence on this road trip ...

* “Let me be clear: if you are here Sunday morning?  You will still be here Tuesday night.  Prepare accordingly.” – the Mayor of Indianapolis, Saturday morning / afternoon / evening.

Let’s just say, he wasn’t bluffing.

It was a traffic jam from hell, to get out of downtown Indy, come 9pm ET on Saturday, January 4.

It took us almost 90 minutes, to get out of the parking garage we paid $55 to park in that day.  A parking garage, mind you, that was owned by the hotel we had paid $143 to stay in the night before, and ate $143 to get the hell out of town ahead of Sherman’s troops, that very day.

Let me put it this way: I’ve been to a few Indy 500’s in my day.  Post Indy 500, is nothing to fear.  You have the holiday built in.  Nobody leaves on Sunday, unless you live within a couple hours of Indy.  Otherwise, you stick around, enjoy the evening, and have a whole day to head home the following day.  (For all my current frustrations with “The Champ”, the roadie to Indy for the 2006 500 will probably always be my favorite roadie.  The present, and utter lack of a future, doesn’t change the past.)

The Brickyard, it’s somewhat different, given that there’s no built in holiday the day after.  But still, you can usually get out of town by 7pm local time (6pm KC time), and roll into the driveway by 2am, to at least get 4-5 hours of sleep, to recover for Monday.

This game?  Ended at 8:15pm Indy time (7:15 Kansas City time).  We didn’t get on I-70 until almost 9:30 Indy time (8:30 Kansas City time).  There were three groups of us departing: me, Russ and Mona; Ryan, Ron and Michelle; and Terry and his crew. 

Terry and his guys got out first.  We got a call from them at mile marker 48* that there was a massive wreck ahead. 

The weather at that point, wasn’t terrible.  It was drizzling, but still above freezing.  Snowmaggedon 2014 had yet to truly descend on central USA. 

We made it to St. Louis in normal time, with not much more than an occasional rain drop or snowflake hitting the windshield. 

Then came the moment, as my dad would so classily put it …

* “Piss, or get off the pot.” – my dad.

(*: for those of you who have never been to Indy, mile marker 69 is where you get onto North 465 to go to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Mile marker 79 (West Street) is where our hotel was.)

* “Stay, or go?” – Mona, as I paid to fill up the Jimmy, at a gas station in beautiful O’Fallon, Missouri, pushing 11:30 on Sunday night.

Our goal was to make St. Louis.  If we could get to St. Louis, we had all day Sunday to get home.  (Note: as fate would turn out, and damn if fate don’t always bite me in the ass, I got a phone call, text message, and email at 9:47 that Sunday night, that my employer was closed that Monday due to the extreme cold, and the massive snowfall, KC got that Sunday.  So we left early for nothing.  Although as I noted in Part Uno way back seven weeks ago, I work with a guy, Jarow, Chiefs season ticket holder.  He and his son were at the game.  They stayed.  They got back about 1am Wednesday.)

So we’d made St. Louis.

Now what?

We headed next door to the McDonalds, ordered some food, and it was now definitely decision time.

I pulled up the forecast and current conditions on my iPhone.  It was 36 and doing nothing in St. Louis.  It was 6 and snowing in Columbia … but 27 and doing nothing in Kingdom City.  (Yes, the place where the McDonalds has a freaking shark tank.  Mile marker 147.  I can remember that off the top of my head, and I could not possibly tell you, what I had for dinner tonight.  God bless it.)

We decided to at least try for Columbia.  Or …

* “Even if we have to stay in some (undesirable location) tonight, we’re that much closer to home tomorrow.” – Russ, in deciding to make the break for it, while enjoying his McChicken sandwich and fries.

Fine -- "undesirable location" was said as "f*cked up sh*thole".

The ride from O’Fallon to Kingdom City, was uneventful, except for one thing.

The temp deal in the Jimmy said 36 degrees, when we headed out.

It read -6, when we hit Kingdom City an hour later.

And then, the “fun” began.

* “I70 conditions so white right now youd think kkk convention hijacked freeway!” – me, via text message, when we hit Kingdom City.

My favorite road trip of all time, is when Dusty and I went to the Indy 500 in 2006.

On that trip home, when we left Indy early on Memorial Day, it was already pushing 90 degrees.  We stopped in St. Louis for gas, and it was in the low 100s.

We stopped in Columbia* for lunch at the Hooters on the far east side of town, it was still pushing 100.

When we emerged through Columbia** an hour later, it was in the 50s and pouring down rain, the rest of the way home.

That is sorta, kinda, what it felt like, going from St. Louis to Columbia*** this time.  It was bearable in St. Louis.  It was not only below zero, it was snowing so hard, you couldn’t see 300 feet in front of you, when you reached Columbia****, on the ride home from Indy on this trip.

But Mona was determined to get home. 

(*: Columbia, Missouri: the eighth layer of hell!)
(**: Columbia, Missouri: the eighth layer of hell!)
(***: Columbia, Missouri: the eighth layer of hell!)
(****: Columbia, Missouri: “Call (your arena) whatever you want to, it will ALWAYS be Allen Field House East!)

* “We’re 100 miles from home.  We’re going home!” – Mona, emerging from Columbia.

* “Or die trying.” – me, responding to the comment above.

It’s minus six degrees, and snowing so hard, you can’t see 300 feet in front of you.

The 116 miles, from eastern Columbia to Noland Road, was the second most frightening ride of my life.

The most frightening, was headed from Cincy to St. Louis, after the Bengals game in 2003.  “The Voice of Reason” and I have been on enough roadies to know fear.  That drive, from Louisville to Cincinnati, down I-64 through the Ohio River Valley, is the most scared I’ve ever been in my life inside of an automobile.  Two words: “freezing fog”.  I was scared to move at 30mph, the visibility was so bad as you descended through Illinois towards our final destination for the night in South St. Louis.

The 116 miles from Columbia to the outskirts of KC?

Were a damned close second.

We reached Columbia a little before 1am on that Sunday.  I’ve made the overnight drive / ride from Indy to KC many times after the Brickyard.  It should take, at most, another 90 minutes.

Come 4:27am, that 116 mile trek finally ended, with the exit onto Noland Road, as the semi in front of us gave up, and pulled onto the side of what was left of visibility on the freeway.  210 minutes to make a 116 mile trek. 

I’m pretty sure, the pressure marks from where what was left of my fingernails, are still visible in the driver’s seat back, of the Jimmy. 

That was a trip I will never forget.  And not in a good way.

It took 3 ½ hours to get home from Columbia. 

If we were driving safely? 

It should have taken five.

Dios Con Mio.

* “Anything white.” – Mona, to me, when we reached the Busstead, when I asked what she wanted to drink.

* “Anything whiskey.” – Russ, to me, when we reached the Busstead, when I asked what he wanted to drink.

* “On second thought, Russ is right – ANYTHING whiskey!” – Mona, in response.

* “With or without lime?” – me, to Russ and Mona, to inquire as to the mixer (Diet Coke).

The trip ended with safety – we reached the house in Raytown shortly before 5am.  Ron called the next day – he and Ryan and Michelle didn’t have to deal with anything headed back to Springfield.  Terry and his guys called us as well the next day from Terra Haute; central Indiana was a disaster.  If anything, the news weather people undersold the storm.    

I finally fell asleep about 5:30am.  Russ poured a straight whiskey when we got back and was done fifteen minutes later.  Mona and I split a bottle of riesling and she made it maybe 20 minutes.  I cracked a second bottle, I was so ("nfl countdown" crew voice) jacked up!, from that ride home from hell.

The next thing I knew, it was noon … and I was the first one to wake up.

* “Let me know when you get in hope yall are safe!” – Gus, text to me, sometime Saturday night / Sunday morning.

* “We’re here” – me, to Gus, early Sunday morning, in response.

* “I’ll hobble the paper down!” – Gus, to me, in response.

If you don’t know Gus, well … I won’t attempt to define the guy.  He has his flaws, he has his drawbacks.  And yeah, the flaws and drawbacks aren’t great, but …

… he also has cancer -- inoperable, and probably fatal, in the next five or six months.

I happen to like the guy.  Flaws and all.  He’s the biggest NASCAR fan you’ll find.  He’s one of about six people you’ll ever meet, who could tell you who Ed Carpenter’s stepfather is, and if you zoom in on “Days of Thunder”, you can see him near the catch fence, as Cole Trickle makes his final mad dash for the win at Daytona in 1989.

He and I have a standing bet every year due to our mutual hatred of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and our disagreeable difference regarding Danica Patrick. 

(Somehow, he doesn’t hate Kasey Kahne, who is Stevo’s Site Numero Dos’ Official Favorite NASCAR* Driver.  Stuns the hell out of me, in a good way.)

He’d do anything for a friend, the single greatest quality a person can possess.

The reason he texted me?

He wanted to shovel the driveway out, as well as a pathway to said driveway down 57th Terrace, to get us in that frigid cold Sunday morning.

Is this where I mention, Gus has one leg?

That’s what he’s willing to do for a friend.

We need more people like Gus, in life.

(*: my favorite driver period is Kenny Brack.  Most people who attended the 2005 Indy 500 (hey, that’s me!), remember it for Danica taking the lead with 11 to go.  (And in the interest of fairness, I have NEVER heard a louder reaction at a sporting event, than when she passed the late, great Dan Wheldon on the restart on lap 189.  Jesus, THAT was 135 decibels.  And then some.)  Me?  I remember it as the final start of Brack’s career, a year and a half after this happened.  I’ll always be thankful I went to that race, and noone can ever take away the fact that Mr. Brack was the fastest qualifier in the field that year.)

--------------------

And so, I choose to end this.

Chiefs fans?  For twenty (bleeping) years, we’ve “been there, done that”. 

For the first time in at least sixteen of those years … I’m ok with it.

No, we didn’t win at Indy.  Yeah, the sting, the pain, of losing, is not going away anytime soon. 

But the sting, the pain?  Means this team matters again.  January 4th, 2014 hurts … because of what this team, our Chiefs, COULD have accomplished.

They have a future.

They have a purpose.

They have a destiny.

Future.  Purpose.  Destiny.

Three words we Chiefs fans couldn’t say, twelve months ago.

If “rock bottom” of the “Fat” Andy Reid / John Dorsey era, is pissing away a 28 point lead in the wildcard round at Indy, if THAT is “rock bottom”?

Sign me up … yesterday.

Because the alternative?


“Been there, done that …”

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