Your team could end up like Chiefs
Don’t ridicule Kansas City Chiefs fans. One day soon, you could be in their position, a punch line for uninformed, unsympathetic national media, reduced to begging ownership to act responsibly and fairly, the target of scorn from the very athletes you support, forced to finance your own public-relations campaign.
This is where professional sports are headed. The disconnect between local fans and the franchises they love is being powered and accelerated by multi-billion-dollar TV contracts and the billions of ancillary dollars generated by video games and whatnot.
The guy in the cheap seats never mattered. We’re getting to the point, especially in the NFL, where no one in the stadium matters. It’s virtually impossible for an NFL franchise to fail and/or lose money. Before anyone has purchased a season ticket, NFL teams are swimming in enough cash to feed most third-world countries.
That’s why Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston got away with slandering a loyal fan base. That’s why the national media delighted in Winston’s ridiculous exaggeration. And that’s why we opened Sunday morning with a news story that Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli had received a two-year contract extension despite a Matt Millen Lite, four-year run in Kansas City.
You remember Matt Millen, right? Many of you laughed at Detroit Lions fans and their Millen Man March to remove their in-over-their-head team president. Millen, despite his ineptitude, was a Supreme Court justice in Detroit. He led the Lions for eight years primarily because there’s nothing an NFL executive can do to financially damage a franchise.
Cincinnati owner Mike Brown has been trying to destroy the Bengals for two decades. He can’t do it.
At some point, Bengals fans will reach the level of frustration that motivated Lions fans to take to the streets and Chiefs fans to voice displeasure at Arrowhead Stadium.
Fans don’t have a voice in the mainstream media. That should be clear in the aftermath of the Eric Winston-Matt Cassel-Chiefs fans controversy. The mainstream media are in bed with ownership and athletes, the people media believe they need. Athletes and media believe fans are stupid and unworthy of genuine respect. We think it’s a waste of time to look at things from the perspective of the average sports fan.
Let’s apply the bogus logic Winston applied to fans to athletes. Winston claimed that if only a few hundred Chiefs fans cheered when Cassel got hurt that it was still too many and it was still sickening and disgusting. Basically, he’s saying if one percent of the fan base does something inappropriate, it’s worthy of passionate public rebuke and the vilification of an entire fan base.
So if one percent of professional football players run afoul of the law, should we vilify all NFL players? Or would that be an unfair generalization? What’s more dangerous, a few cheers when a hometown player gets his clock cleaned or an NFL player driving while drunk? One act leads to potential hurt feelings, the other leads to possible death.
The media and the ex-jocks pretending to be media on TV were having such a fun time beating up on fans that no one applied any critical thinking to Winston’s opportunistic stupidity.
Not only do fans not have a voice, they’re despised and abused.
Winston’s whiny, inaccurate rant about the alleged behavior of a handful of Chiefs fans became a national talking point. Well, the story is what has made this fan base this angry. It’s the lack of accountability for ownership and management throughout the NFL (and professional sports). As more and more television money pours into professional sports leagues the less power true sports fans have. We’re not changing the channel. Sports is the only TV product that is DVR-proof.
An NFL franchise is the perfect investment. It makes the owner and his front-office cronies the most powerful and important people in any city. They’re untouchable.
No player in NFL history had an eight-year run of incompetence that could rival Millen’s. Why would a $3-million-a-year executive face less performance pressure than a $500,000 special-teams player? How could the Chiefs even consider giving Scott Pioli a contract extension?
I’m aware the original report about Pioli’s extension was refuted later in the day Sunday. But I don’t believe Jason La Canfora of CBS reported sketchy information. I believe Tampa Bay’s 38-10 thumping of Kansas City made the Chiefs walk back the leaked information.
Clark Hunt isn’t stupid. Kansas City’s fan base is frustrated and motivated. A group of fans started a Twitter feed @saveourchiefs dedicated to getting Scott Pioli fired. In two weeks, the feed has amassed 73,000 followers. Last week the group flew a banner over Arrowhead Stadium demanding that Pioli be fired and Cassel be benched. They’re planning more activity for KC’s next home game on Oct. 28. (I donated $600 to their cause. I’m a Chiefs fan.)
Extending Pioli at this time would further motivate an already-active fan base. The fan base has taken to social media to educate local and national media about what has been going on with Chiefs football the last two decades and the lengthy list of errors Pioli has made in four years. They’re tired of reading the propaganda pumped out by Pioli’s partners in the mainstream media.
Don’t laugh at their desperation. Don’t harshly judge their missteps. You could be next.