One week from today the Kansas City Chiefs will open the NFL Regular Season against the Detroit Lions. There is much on the line Thursday Night for the boys in red and the rabid fan base excited to party with their Super Bowl LVII heroes.
Even if the Detroit Lions waltz into Arrowhead and upset the Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener, I suspect the fan base will be disappointed, to say the least. The players who really couldn’t celebrate the season opener with a full stadium after Super Bowl LIV might feel worse for letting down the Chiefs Kingdom.
Still, with a week to go, it’s been a fun and wild off-season. The Chiefs organization and their players basked in their Super Bowl glow until the end of the mandatory minicamp. After that, it’s been all business for the players in prepping for the 2023 season. Now some of that business has centered on the absence of Chris Jones, but the two sides might still get something done before the opener.
Personally, I remain hopeful.
Regardless of what transpires on that front, it won’t spoil what’s ahead for the 2023 season. I’m old enough to remember the 50-year gap between Super Bowl appearances, and I always asked the NFL Gods in that time span, Just give me one more. Well, it worked twice, but watching Super Bowl LIV shortly after my father passed away with two of my sons, made that moment so special.
At the time, I remember looking up wondering if my dad was watching it with us, but more importantly the sense of joy I felt was immeasurable. The younger generation of Chiefs fans, who made up the last 10-20 years, they had a different pain. Leaping ahead to those fans who came on board with Mahomes six years ago, well you’re experiencing something completely different.
Mahomes has brought one thing this organization really needed on the field, a no-excuse, win at all costs, leader. Forget the mounting records he’s shredding with each season he plays, Mahomes has elevated expectations to such a fever pitch, that it has spread to not only Chiefs fans but NFL fans.
Still, the fact he has reached an old dog like me, and young kids slinging footballs in their backyards with their Mahomes Jerseys, reveals the power one person can have over a fan base. In my era, Len Dawson was that person, but the NFL game today is much harder, It may not be as physical as the gladiator days of the AFL, but the league has set parameters to protect its stars from that style of play. For that reason alone, it should ensure Mahomes can go out on his terms.
For Mahomes, it’s quite remarkable that he maintains his innocence and humbleness. The fact he’s a son, husband, father, and King of the entire Chiefs Kingdom, to remain this self-aware of the impact he’s made to so many people, he’s never met, should be daunting.
Instead, he embraces it through his amazing charitable work with his foundation, and countless other things we don’t see helping strangers, that we will never hear about. The man truly appreciates the position he’s in, and he embraces the many people who love and adore him.
For that immense love, he does whatever it takes to keep the Super Bowl train moving for the fans, and yes, his ultimate legacy when he hangs up his cleats. To be 28 years old, and have that much weight on your shoulders, would break nearly everyone.
Instead, he uses that as fuel, just like he did a year ago, playing a trio of post-season games injured, and carrying his team on his back.
On Thursday Night, he gets to momentarily share memories of Super Bowl LVII in front of a packed house. Once that’s done, the job now is doing whatever it takes to win the Super Bowl again and again and again.