Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Kansas City Chiefs.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
The Kansas City Chiefs are the Buzz Aldrin of the NFL. The Jets stole their thunder with a transformative win over the Colts in Super Bowl III. Otherwise, the Chiefs would be known as that team that gave the AFL credibility with a win over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Not only that, the iconic image of Joe Namath running off the Orange Bowl field with his index finger extended in the air would be replaced by this:
How epic would that be? I mean, would we have had a sideline encounter where a boozy Len Dawson put the moves on a reporter? I can't answer that. But what a world it might have been.
(OK, so yes, that picture's actually from Super Bowl I. Thanks, fact checker. Point is: Dawson and all of his halftime antics would be far more widely known had Namath not delivered on his guarantee.)
What's strange to note here: Super Bowl IV is the most recent appearance for the Chiefs on the game's biggest stage. They played in the very first Super Bowl (then known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game -- a bit more on that below) and lost rather handily to the Green Bay Packers. I mean, a hung-over Max McGee torched those guys, who appeared to be rather intimidated. But then, a few years later, the Chiefs helped cement the AFL's legacy by immediately following up to the Jets' historic win with a Super Bowl triumph of their own. It's kind of treated like the second child of AFL Super Bowl wins, but it was still important. It helped prove the Jets' win wasn't a fluke. And the AFL teams were pretty legit.
And it did give us the mother of all mic'd-up segments, Hank Stram's "just keep matriculating the ball down the field." Stram was the best.
But after that, there were some lean times. Of course, guys like Marty Schottenheimer and Andy Reid have offered some stability. Which makes sense, because they are both basically the same guy. I've often said Reid is this era's Schottenheimer. That's not shade, either. I think the world of Marty (and I'm going to probably hammer that home more when I talk about the Chargers). He was a consistent winner everywhere and really did it with teams that weren't so great. Marty had nine consecutive winning seasons for the Chiefs with quarterbacks like Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac. All right, he had two years of Montana. But just two. Otherwise, it was the quarterback equivalent of James Ellsworth. (Which makes sense if Montana is Daniel Bryan -- Bono is a perfect Ellsworth, by comparison.)
Marty resigned after his first losing campaign in '98, and the Chiefs had three playoff appearances in 14 years. Thankfully, Reid arrived and made the playoffs in three of his first four years.
The Eaglesfired Andy Reid on Dec. 31, 2012. A Monday. The Chiefs hired him on Friday of that week. Wow. That window wasn't open very long. Kind of like Maggie on "How I Met Your Mother" in Season 5. I wonder if the Hunts got a call from an old lady in Philly to let them know Reid was single. Because that was pretty damn quick. But it was a smart move, too.
It also didn't take Eagles fans long to be pissed about this. Because they hired Chip Kelly. That was fun (for about a second). Until it wasn't (about a second later, after Kelly had discarded a whole bunch of talent). Meanwhile, Reid took over a team that had just gone 2-14 and punched a playoff ticket, going 11-5 in Year 1. The Chiefs are 43-21 under Reid so far. They are one of five teams with a winning record in each of the past four seasons (along with New England, Green Bay, Denver and Seattle). And they are doing it with Alex Smith.
He's not that bad
All right, all right. Cheap shot. Smith has a .672 winning percentage as the Chiefs starting QB (which ranks fifth over that time). He doesn't turn the ball over (with just 28 picks over his four years with K.C.), but people love to give him (expletive) because he doesn't throw the ball downfield. And sure, the Chiefs annually rank in the bottom half of the NFL in pass plays of 20-plus yards.
But the dude wins.
And if he doesn't ...
Well, know-it-all, Smith is 33 years old. Entered the NFL the same year as Aaron Rodgers, who recently told NFL Network's Alex Flanagan that he's on the back nine of his career. And let's be honest: Quarterbacks are valuable in this league. Look at the situation the Cowboys were in last year with Dak Prescott. But the best-case scenario would be one similar to Rodgers' early days in the NFL, where Mahomes can take a few years on the sideline to develop into a starting QB.
Not Baby Gronk
Rob Gronkowski missed most of last season, but Travis Kelce was able to fill a lot of the subsequent void, both on and off the field. Kelce led all tight ends with 1,125 receiving yards. He doesn't have a Kelce spike, but he did pretty much dominate Pro Bowl coverage with his "Salt Bae" celebration. And Kelce figures to feature prominently in highlight shows now that the NFL has relaxed its rules on end zone celebrations.
He even had his own reality TV show, "Catching Kelce." Hey, but be cool with the spoilers, because I have the whole season still on my DVR.
Everybody became a Chiefs fan after the team announced in late 2014 that safety Eric Berry was being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma. He went through treatment during the offseason and had a stellar 2015 season, earning Comeback Player of the Year honors. This past season, he chalked up his fifth Pro Bowl invite and third first-team All-Pro nod.
But the horses
Yeah, Berry also became a household name when his fear of horses was put out on Front Street. But the good news to report here is Berry has finally overcome his fear. They are cool now. For the full feature, check this out:
NFL players: They're just like us!
Well, at least Chris Conley is. I'm sure there are other dudes in the league who like "Star Wars" and whatnot. But Chris Conley has taken that to new heights. Even going so far as to make his own fan film while he was at Georgia. He's become the go-to "Star Wars" reviewer for the new films coming out.
Only one problem here: Like most millennials, he doesn't hate the prequels. Which means he's dead to me. I'm kidding. Actually, Episode III wasn't that bad. If they had gone with an angle where Anakin thought Obi-Wan and Padme were having an affair, then the whole thing could've taken on a new meaning. But kids, ditch the prequels and watch "Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels" instead.
Chiefs fans rock
And don't call them fair-weather
Last season's playoff game between the Chiefs and Steelers was pushed back because of an ice storm. (And really, you should just make that late Sunday night playoff game a prime-time affair from now on.) Chiefs fans didn't seem to care, as they showed up early to tailgate. No surprise there -- Chiefs fans were out there eaaaaaaaarly for a frigid Thursday night game against the Raiders, as well.
Opening up against the Patriots
The Chiefs will get a pretty good indication about how good they are as they kick off the NFL season on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions. Yeah, buddy. Actually, this is pretty risky. The Chiefs could win this game, and the hype train will become a full locomotive. Or they could lose to the Patriots and spiral, like the Cardinalsdid last year.
The franchise's best
Derrick Thomas set an NFL record in 1990 when he sacked Seattle quarterback (and future Chief) Dave Krieg seven times. SEVEN. IN. ONE. GAME. It's one of those records I feel like will never be broken. A couple of dudes have come close. One of those guys? Derrick Thomas, who had six sacks against the Raiders in 1998.
Not enough credit
The Super Tecmo Bowl version of Christian Okoye. I know -- Bo Jackson gets all of the love (and television commercials) for his Super Tecmo Bowl self. And he was great. But Okoye was right there with him. And Tecmo Okoye didn't need a cheat play that you couldn't stop, either. I'm telling you -- it was a pretty sneaky play to use the Chiefs when your less-scrupulous buddy went with the Raiders. (That person also became the guy who would use the Falcons in Madden 04 because of Michael Vick.)
But check this out! It's Okoye using Okoye!
I don't want to single out Matt Cassel, so maybe I should just say the whole notion of creating the Midwest Patriots didn't work out so well. K.C. snagged the New England quarterback, along with personnel whiz Scott Pioli, in 2009, then added former Pats coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel in 2010. I guess it was worth a shot. The Chiefs did need a new direction, and we hadn't really seen all of the ex-Patriot flameouts just yet. But still. It was a little much, and it ended up hurting the team for a while. But look, you have Andy Reid now.
Hipster jersey II
Closing fun fact
Wait, you knew that. Well, how about a ...
Closing fun fact CHECK
For years, I heard that the name "Super Bowl" came from Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who coined the term while watching his daughter play with a Super Ball toy. Before then, the game was known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
But alas, I recently came across some intrepid reporting by The Atlantic that calls that whole yarn into question. Now I don't know what to believe. Is this the "Pop Rocks and soda" of NFL lore?
There has been some heartbreak in Kansas City. Montana's injury in the 1993 AFC Championship Game. Lin Elliott's three missed field goals against the Marshall Faulk-less Colts in the '95 Divisional Round. And just recently, that 28-point choke to the Colts on Wild Card Weekend of the 2013 campaign. Despite all of that, Dan Hanzus just removed the Chiefs from the Pain Rankings. Sorry, didn't mean to rub that in.
Long story short, you certainly wouldn't be considered a bandwagon fan if you got behind these Chiefs. And here's the thing: There is a lot of hope for the future. K.C. returns nearly the entire starting lineup from last year's AFC West title squad. Tyreek Hill tied a club record with 12 touchdowns as a rookie, and you just know Reid has something special cooked up for him this season. The fans, as I pointed out, are awesome. And the food in Kansas City is amazing. I'm telling you: If I were in the market for a team, the Chiefs would certainly be on the short list.