It’s hard to be perfect in every way


It’s difficult to cover this Kansas City Chiefs football team. I’ve tried many times to come at this with the idea there’s always room for improvement. No team or person can ever have the perfect game. It just doesn’t exist. What I do look for is a level of consistency and commitment that says that at the end of the season it will be my team standing tall.

The New England Patriots embodied those two qualities until Tom Brady left. The Pittsburg Steelers’ swagger fuels the mystique. The Baltimore Ravens have a sense of it. The Dallas Cowboys projected that back in the day when people told you it was America’s team. I disliked that moniker so much I rooted against the Cowboys to lose every time they played.

I look at Kansas City with an overwhelming sense of pride. I know there are problematic things in the name and culture around it. But this team was one of the things eased my transition as an immigrant. At one time, in the 60’s early 70’s, they were my idea of perfection. I lived and died by them. I don’t do that anymore. The sting of a defeat lasts about as long as a commercial. It’s not that I’m indifferent. I do get caught up in it, but the reality is that there is no sense in destroying a good day with the foul mood of a loss hovering over the rest of it.

I was crushed when they lost against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game two years ago and elated after they won the Super Bowl last year. The truth is the high from the win lasted longer than the low of losing, but in retrospect both emotions soon receded to reality, to life, to my own expectations and desires. It’s the way things should be.

That’s the way I look at sport nowadays, especially after my beloved Barcelona starts to look like a second class organization. I still long for the joy of coordinated play celebrated in the most joyous of ways. That is the way I played sports when I could. There was joy in doing the thing the way you practiced it and seeing it work as it should. I watch this football team the same way, searching for those sublime moments of execution.

One play crystalized that for me. It came in the fourth quarter with the ball at the 41-yard-line and Kansas City facing a third-and-five. Patrick Mahomes took the snap and drifted back to the 50 and unloaded a pass that sailed 44 yards in the air to land in the sure hands of Tyreek Hill. On a previous touchdown, Hill had jumped into the stands in joyous celebration. I cringed thinking, “oh man, don’t get a stupid penalty now.”

On this play, Hill caught a beautiful pass and hit the ground appearing a little shaken. Mahomes was soon at his side and soon he was on Mahomes’ back being carried back to the bench. I was expecting another run into the stands and maybe a penalty. It was joy to see the pass and the catch and pure bliss to see Mahomes carting off Hill, and the unbridled fun of young men at play. At that moment I realized how much time has passed. I couldn’t carry a hundred pound sack anywhere near ten yards running much less walking.

So, I’m left looking for the sublime moments sports can give. I look for that perfect or as close to perfect game I can experience and those moments to criticize when it is nowhere in sight. It is harder to do that after this last game against the lowly New York Jets. They were expected to win big and they did. They also showcased all facets of the game, from defense to special teams and offense. It was so good that at one point I thought it would be ridiculous to criticize any part of this game.

I still tried, as I started to write this. Why was the running game so lame? Well the Jets had a nice response to it and why keep running into a brick wall when the passing game looks like gold? The Hill celebration was another lapse but thankfully no penalty came from the exuberance. So, because I must find something to criticize, I did notice a few things that seem to require a little more attention to detail. Was it just me or did the grass at Arrowhead look just a little shaggy from what I’m use to?

Was it just me or did the folk that run the water out to the players during breaks appear a little too lackadaisical to you? Was it just me or did the team emblem in the middle of the field appear a little washed out, like maybe it could use a little more color saturation? Was it just me or did I see a little bit of foil wrappers along the edge of the field before kickoff? You would have thought after the Scott Pioli era we would be more attuned to this.

Come on team, get that straightened out. The Carolina Panthers are coming to town and we need to put our best foot forward. And by the way, make sure the place shines really well. It’s the least we can do as hosts before we beat then with our semi perfection.