KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There comes a point where you have two choices: You can either storm the gates with torches in hand, or throw up your arms, laugh and walk away. Clark Hunt will be a rich man regardless. Whether you’re riding shotgun or not, the clown car rolls on.
“They aren’t going to cancel a game,” Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel, that renowned leader of men, said of his 1-6 Chiefs’ visit to San Diego on Thursday night. “So we are going to have to go play it.”
See? Who wouldn’t run through a brick wall for this guy?
There’s no way to spin Oakland 26, Kansas City 16. None. Raiders-Chiefs was to football what “2 Broke Girls” is to comedy, a steaming pile of offal foisted upon the American public, a triumph of bad over worse. The Big Ten gives you Indiana versus Illinois. The NFL gives you Kansas City and Oakland.
“I haven’t been through a season like this,” said Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who completed 20 of 30 throws in relief of the injured Brady Quinn. “I haven’t been a part of a season either where we have had so many things go wrong. Whether it’s tipped balls or me making a bad decision, whatever the case might be. There (have) been a lot of turnovers this year, and I’ve never been around a team that has had this many things go the wrong direction, and at some point, the luck has to change and go in our direction.”
Good teams make their own luck. Then again, this is not a good team. General manager Scott Pioli promised you Patriots West. He’s given you Jacksonville North.
The Chiefs are on a pace to turn the ball over 57 times. November’s around the corner, and they have yet to hold a lead in regulation. They’ve been outscored by a margin of 54-6 in the first quarter and by a margin of 126-26 in the first and third periods combined. Which means either Crennel is giving his locker room pep talks in Portuguese, or no one on his roster seems to give a flying patootie.
“I think that they try hard,” Crennel said. “We just don’t do enough of the things we need to do to win.”
This isn’t a season. It’s a sitcom. It’s “Arrested Development” in cleats.
With 1:50 left in the first half of a 6-6 game, the Raiders punt from midfield. The Chiefs’ Javier Arenas settles under the ball and calls for a fair catch at the Kansas City 14. At the last instant, he lets the ball slip through his elbows. Oakland pounces on it at the Chiefs’ 11-yard-line. Three plays later, the Raiders take a 13-6 lead.
On the first play of the third quarter, Cassel fumbles the snap like a wet bar of soap. Oakland pounces on it at the Chiefs’ 18-yard line. Four plays later, the Raiders take a 16-6 lead.
Also in the third quarter, Kansas City ball, on 1st-down-and-20, receiver Steve Breaston, a man targeted exactly nine times in the Chiefs’ previous six games, is all alone up the left sideline; the nearest Raider is about 15 feet away. Cassel sees this and lobs a perfect rainbow, right between the numbers.
The ball boinks off his hands.
“That’s one of those plays for me, personally, that could change a lot of stuff around me,” Breaston said after the game. “And I’ve just got to get out of my own head right now.”
And then there’s this exchange, between Crennel and reporters during the postgame news conference:
REPORTER: “Is Jamaal Charles OK?”
CRENNEL: “As far as I know.”
REPORTER: “Why only five carries for Jamaal?”
CRENNEL: “Now, that I’m not exactly sure either.”
People, we cannot make this stuff up. We just can’t.
Too much pig, not enough lipstick. A clueless coach; not one competent quarterback; a pair of overrated lines; a star wide receiver who reportedly wants out; a secondary that runs around like pieces on an electric football board; and a stubborn general manager who spent last week standing in front of the cameras like Chip Diller in the movie “Animal House,” pleading for calm. All backed by absentee ownership living off the goodwill and tax dollars of a city addicted to football.
Starring Tracy Morgan as Crennel, Jeffrey Tambor as Pioli and Danny McBride as Eric Winston. Boom. Comedy gold.
“They play hard,” Crennel said. “They try hard.”
So many paper bags, so little time.
The Chargers? The Steelers? The Bengals? The Broncos? When you look at the Chiefs’ dance card, it’s hard to find the victories, but it’s easy to see the potential for more hilarity. Unintentional, of course.