Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes proud to hold the Lamar Hunt Trophy along with many of the Lamar Hunt family last Sunday evening. Now the Chiefs are heading to Super Bowl LIV in Miami Fl.



BY JOSE FAUS


Fifty years. That’s a long of time. Some folk are talking about how miserable it must be to be a fan and never have seen your team go to the Super Bowl. I feel a little guilty because I am not that fan. You see I saw both Chiefs’ Super Bowls. To be honest, on the first one I had a rudimentary understanding of the game. I remember the ”Hammer” (Freddie Williamson) and I remember a guy named Max McGee. By the second Chiefs’ Super Bowl, I was addicted.

I was 13. It was Boystown, full of kids from all over Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, and St Louis, all representing their hometowns. I’d only known my “hometown” three years. I was an immigrant. I knew a few people – the first friends I made when we lived on the Westside, and then the barely new friends of the suburbs before going to Boystown at 12 years old.

What did I know of my city? Aside of the schools I attended, it was sports that told me of a bigger place than the neighborhoods we roamed. As a young kid in a new world, your life is regulated by adults. Some of them decided to teach us about sports. I have no memory of who that was, but through them I knew “we” had a football and baseball team, and they played at Municipal Stadium.

My brother and I went there as little kids to see an Athletics game and a Chiefs game. I saw other people from all over town and beyond. It spoke to me of what it meant to be a part of a city. At Boystown a lot of kids spoke of their hometowns. I felt odd and defensive because I could not speak with the intimacy they spoke of their neighborhoods. But I could talk about “our” team. “Our” city was going to the Super Bowl, not Chicago, Detroit, or St Louis.

The week leading up to the game was a constant stream of how my team was not going to beat the “purple people eaters.” They were going to devour us. Every negative slam was a personal slight. And there was Maurice, our dorm counselor, who would greet me every day, “Faus, your team, number one in your heart but number two in your program.”

That team was my city and in a strange way it had also become me. When the game was over, I remember the elation. “Number one in my heart and number one in my program,” I yelled. You think it is going to last. You can’t wait till the next year when you can relive this feeling.

Then came the wilderness beginning with the Christmas day game. That is the most painful moment of my fan years.

That radio transmission haunts me. It was the gateway to the desert. The missed field goals that foreshadowed so many other missed chances – the hopeless grind of bad coaches, great coaches, bad luck, bad kickers, snow and ice, and tragedies, so many of them death, drugs and shame. The rise and fall of folk you felt you knew. And then the moments of redemption and genuine joy. But there was always championship heartache lurking in the dunes.

You feel selfish because at least you can say you saw them win one, even if it was 50 years ago. That day, they were champions and I, for that brief moment that peak experiences give you, I was a champion and home was Kansas City, the sweetest place to be. I fell in love with my adopted town then and there.

Today, the world slows down a little bit. Ten days until the big game and I catch my breath. I listen to all the tales people share of what this team means to them. Always tinged with the missed chances, the absence of relatives and friends who no longer are around to hug and cry with, in the euphoria of this moment. All those who taught them the game and who waited year after year for that second shot at glory, or in some cases the first. And for them it never came, but they never gave up hope.

My emotions ride the waves. I am one moment giddy as hell and happy that this town can celebrate another Super Bowl trip. Another moment, I am sad missing the young boy who roamed the halls of Boystown with a chip on his shoulder certain of only one thing, my team, my city, was going to win and they were going to be champions, and in that moment I was going to be the king of the world.

Fifty years removed from that day, I find I am just as vested in this team, with one big difference. I am not counting on them to give me the confidence and comfort of knowing where home is.

For fifty years I have known where that place is. It is yellow and orange and big as the blue sky. It is full of hope and missed opportunities, resolutions and regret, and disappointments and celebrations. And It is always number one in my heart and number one in my program. And come next week I can say with joyous anticipation, in the immortal words of Bill Grigsby, “It’s a bea-youuu-tiful day for Chiefs football.”