KANSAS CITY, Mo. — And then, just like that, it was over.
The Kansas City Chiefs packed up their things Thursday, signed one another’s playbooks and traded tearful hugs. They vowed to write every week, even the slow ones. Andy Reid had somebody pump “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” over those ginormous loudspeakers outside the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. OTAs fly when you’re having fun.
OK, we kid.
Actually, The Last Day of School on 1 Arrowhead Drive went more like this: A fast, fevered practice, as per the usual, followed by a mad dash to the airport. Notable by its presence in front of the team’s practice facility was a massive car transport trailer, stacked like a pulled pork sandwich with all matter of not-so-inexpensive luxury vehicles. A cherry red Ford Mustang, pure lust on wheels, sat on the very top, glistening in the sun.
“Yeah, we’re going to set up this group text,” linebacker Akeem Jordan revealed, “just to make sure that everybody is staying on task with each other.”
“I don’t think it’s one person in charge,” Jordan continued. “I think we’re all just going to try to chime in here every once in a while. There’s probably going to be a whole lot of chatter going on.”
OK, so maybe we weren’t kidding about the “write every week” part.
And hey, for a roster that’s splintering to the four corners of the earth — or maybe just the four corners of South Beach — the Chiefs have talked an awful lot, and in fairly earnest tones, about keeping in touch, about keeping channels open until preseason camp convenes at St. Joseph, Mo., at the end of July.
Quarterback Alex Smith and go-to wideout Dwayne Bowe have promised to get together during this interim, which has all the makings of a Larry David sketch when you consider that Smith is apparently based in California and Bowe reportedly still lives in Miami. Maybe they’ll split the difference and chuck it around Dallas.
Meanwhile, the linebackers plan to trade notes, or recipes, or stuff that’s probably not printable on a family website. New cornerback Sean Smith, one of the many fresh faces to make an impression during spring practices, said the defensive backs plan to get in on the act, too:
“Yeah, definitely,” he explained. “It kind of works out for me because in the secondary we have (cornerback) Brandon Flowers and (safety) Eric Berry, they’re like our captains, the guys who people look up to. They’re both from Florida. And coming from Miami, I’m going back home, so we’re all going to link up in South Florida and get some work in.
“And we definitely welcome anybody to come down and get some work in with us. We have a mission in mind and one goal: To come back and keep this thing rolling and make sure no one falls off.”
History will mark this period — does history mark organized team activities? — as The Great Spring Cram Job. Faster tempo, faster practices, more new plays and more new players than ever before.
Roughly half the roster from the 2-14 stinkbomb of 2012 is gone. Three-quarters of the quarterbacks and half the receivers are brand new. There were pistol formations and West Coast-style rollouts and Jamaal Charles lining up all over the place.
Also, there were tight ends. A slew of them, making plays, week after darned week. We don’t know if Tony Moeaki will be 100 percent by the time preseason games roll around, but we know that Smith already has a clear rapport with free-agent import Anthony Fasano and rookie Travis Kelce, two big bodies that come with sets of soft hands to match. The more former Wisconsin-Milwaukee men’s basketball standout Demetrius Harris plays, the less awkward he looks.
We’ve been fooled in May and June before — see Jon Baldwin — but to many observers (and by “observers,” we mean the schlubs in shorts, watching from the balcony), Tyler Bray has routinely walked away as the second-best quarterback on the field. Or the second-most comfortable quarterback, for whatever that’s worth.
On the defensive side of the ball, Smith sticks to his man like flypaper, and all rookie linebacker Nico Johnson does is make plays: A pick here, a swat there. But as Reid has pointed out, spring and shorts are one animal; August and live contact can prove to be an entirely different beast.
Speaking of beasts, for the second year in a row, Baldwin put together a very, very nice spring. Which, based on Baldwin’s subsequent autumns, probably means absolutely bupkes.
Regardless, what’s done is done. The open road calls. There are families to see, sports cars to drive, emoticons to send.
“Everybody’s grown,” Jordan said. “I don’t think we’re going to babysit each other.”
LOL, dude. LOL. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com