The comeback ways of the Kansas City Royals have rubbed off on their friends across the parking lot at Truman Sports Complex. The Kansas City Chiefs were dead in the water at 1-5 this year, with some fans calling for the team to pack it in and focus on next year. What the Chiefs did next was unprecedented in NFL history, reeling off ten consecutive victories, and earning the top Wild Card spot in the AFC Playoffs. This Saturday, they travel to Houston to take on the Texans, seeking their first playoff victory since 1994. Will the Chiefs end their post-season blues the same way the Royals ended their 30 year championship drought this year? We talked to Joel Thorman, editor of our sister site, Arrowhead Pride, to talk about the state of sports in Kansas City.
Kansas City has become a comeback city with the Chiefs comeback this season and the Royals comebacks last fall. Do you think these teams have changed the psyche of the fans in this city or is there still a lot of history to overcome?
The Royals did a lot to change it. The narrative with the Royals was that you knew they would come back at some point, which was the opposite of KC sports teams until their run. That hasn't totally seeped over to the Chiefs but it's getting close with this 10-game winning streak. The Chiefs still haven't gotten the big monkey off their back and that's a playoff win. It's been nearly 22 years since the last one -- Mariah Carey's "Hero" was No. 1 on the Billboard at the time - so until the Chiefs win a playoff game the Chiefs fans' psyche can't change that much.
Be honest, did you give up on the season when the Chiefs were 1-5?
Oh hell yeah I did. I KNEW they were a better team than 1-5. I've watched this team for a while and the Broncos and Bears losses were as fluky as any loss, so I didn't see them as a 1-5 team. I thought they would turn it around in the second half of the season and finish 7-9. But 10 in a row? No. No I did not see that. Wait a minute. Yes, I did predict it. Peep that date.
Royals fans had to be very patient with Dayton Moore, but it paid off after nine seasons. How do Chiefs fans view John Dorsey and Andy Reid and how patient will they be?
The NFL is kind of different because teams go from worst to first all the time. The patience level of NFL owners is as low as its ever been. Coaches routinely get fired after two seasons. Clark Hunt should know because he churned through coaches and GMs from Herm Edwards to Todd Haley to Romeo Crennel. This pairing of Reid and Dorsey feels different though. The Chiefs have had some success so they've proven they can win with this group. It feels like it did during the Marty Schottenheimer days when the Chiefs were going to be competitive every year. I suspect Reid and Dorsey have a very long rope.
Has the success of the Royals raised the bar for the Chiefs?
I don't view it as a competitive thing, like since the Royals won now the Chiefs have to win. But I do think that the Royals title gave Chiefs fans a taste of what it's like. The desire to win is stronger than its ever been so I suppose yeah it has raised the bar.
How far do you think this Chiefs team can go and what will be their key to success in the post-season?
The ceiling is the Super Bowl, which probably says more about the AFC this year than the Chiefs. To make a run, I think teams need to be elite in at least one area and the Chiefs are on defense. They can go into any environment against any AFC team and legitimately believe they can win. Heck, they already beat the No. 1 seed in their own house (and nearly retired Peyton Manning ... yes, I still love saying that).
The bottom line is that the Chiefs defense creates a lot of turnovers and the Chiefs offense doesn't turn it over very often. The stats heavily favor those who win the turnover battle, which is why the Chiefs have reason to believe they can make a run this year. And I can't wait to see Alex Smith ball out - yeah, I said it - because he is lights out in the postseason: nine touchdowns, zero interceptions in his three playoff games.
There was an amazing turn out of 800,000 fans downtown in a sea of blue after the Royals won the World Series. Have you envisioned a Chiefs Super Bowl championship rally? What does it look like?
I remember talking to Scott Pioli (yeah, yeah) a few years ago and he talked about how he envisioned it going around Union Station. And when I was a kid when the Chiefs were playing the Bills in the 1993 AFC Championship game, my Dad told me we could take off school for the parade if the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl. Alas, neither happened. The Royals had the benefit of having a parade in decent weather while the Chiefs would have it in February if they won. The NFL is bigger but I'm not sure the Chiefs top 800,000 downtown because there has been no team in KC history who brought the city together quite like the Royals did this year.
I would love to find out though!
Many thanks to Joel Thorman for his time. You can follow all the latest Chiefs news and analysis at www.arrowheadpride.com