Chiefs have left us, but they will return

The Kansas City Chiefs won’t be on the field for another meaningful game until September, something that hurts to think about.

Fair warning, this is going to be a stark departure from the type of article I normally author.

I’ve been a paid NFL analyst for the better part of my adult life, and I take great pride in being unbiased, as impossible as the human mind makes that at times. I’ve been a Chiefs fan since I was 5 years old, a little kid in a tiny New York town.

In 1993, Kansas City lost to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. I cried my eyes out. I’m now 28 years old, living in Chicago with a wedding to come in August with the woman of my dreams. I’m healthy, I’m happy and I couldn’t imagine a better life. I’m blessed a million times over.

Yet none of that comfort allowed me to escape the profound sadness I felt as Pittsburgh took the victory formation last night. It was like watching a friend fade into the distance, knowing they may not return in the shape you left them.

This is crazy, of course. We are talking about a football team, a group of 53 men that are strangers with massive bank accounts. This shouldn’t matter that much to me, or you, but here we are. I’m typing this and you’re reading this because of the pain we both feel after what was another heartbreaking loss.

More than 24 hours removed from the defeat, I don’t find myself angry or bitter. I’m just sad. I miss my team. I complain about them throughout almost every game, bemoaning a penalty or dropped pass. But deep down, I love them desperately. The Chiefs are in many ways to lifeline to my inner child, the last great bastion of my former self. There is something endlessly nostalgic about that.

Kansas City has been either mediocre or moribund for so many years of my life. Having it good now brings incredible joy, but also the pain of a twisting knife on nights such as Sunday. I truly didn’t want to believe it was over, and yet it was. And is.

We can debate forever why the Chiefs lost and who needs to be replaced. It’s pointless, because none of us run the team. We simply buy the gear, show up on Sunday and hope for the best. It’s all we can do. The powers that be make the decisions, and we live with the consequences.

I’ve heard from other writers that the more engrossed they become in covering the league, the more their personal fandoms slip away.

In my case, it’s the opposite. I love the Chiefs more than ever, and perhaps that’s my burden. If true, then my love of them is also mine, and uniquely so. While I feel a current emotional void, I know I’ll bounce back and rally once more, waiting on the summer for another year of high-quality football.

And, unlike in so many years past, I know the Chiefs will too.

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