My top memory of watching the Kansas City football Chiefs as a kid was seeing my favorite player, Derrick “Sack Man” Thomas, taking down the universally loathed Jeff George six times. The whole game felt like watching heroic, slow-motion roundhouses in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. It was truth and justice beholden in the meritocracy of athletic dominance. Absolutely glorious. The Chiefs of the 90’s were a defensive force, and to me, nothing was sweeter than a sack. It was so overpowering, like Stone Cold throwing up middle fingers with dual thrusting action and then celebrating a little too much.
Those days were 15 years ago. And maybe I’m a little embarrassed that Kansas City could never come up with a better nickname for our most beloved defensive player of a raucous era of football. Maybe it’s sad that none of my best memories have anything to do with championships or even playoffs. But on Sunday, the Chiefs shut out a team on opening day. That team was the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chris Kirkpatrick of the AFC, so you can write it off, or you can believe as I believe, that the rebuilding decade is over.
I’ll be watching Week 2 vs the Cowboys at the Chataue de Co-blogger, Tommy Cooksey’s. He’s the biggest Cowboys fan I know with an equally torturaous decade of football behind him. One of us will see faith rewarded, and one of us will feel the familiar numbness of more defeat. Here’s my best attempt to talk myself into optimism for the 2013 Chiefs.
Forget about Alex Smith’s arrival and the drafting of number 1 pick, Eric Fisher. Forget about Dwayne Bowe’s absurd “best receiver alive” claims and the implication’s of Andy Reid’s pass-happy offense for sparkplug Dexter McCluster. We know this team is talented and good on defense.
FACT!: Defensive Tackle Dontari Poe stopped eating Kansas City BBQ to get in shape for the season. I can’t speak to the nutritional merits of this strategy, but the discipline of 350-lb man living in Kansas City by way of Memphis, TN is the most astounding feat of the offseason. A man who’s resolve is that strong will not be moved off the line of scrimmage. I imagine that Dontari’s spirit animals, the pig and the ox, stand with him on every snap.
FACT!: Derrick Johnson has become arguably the best veteran middle linebacker in the league. Elite in pass coverage, always in the right place. It’s his 9th year in the league, and we’ve seen that positional ILB’s like Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis are exceptional at this point in their career when a superior line is place in front of them.
FACT!: NASA-related jokes about Houston and problems are going to be everywhere this year. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali provide one of the best pass rushes in the league. It could be the key to everything for this Chief’s defense. Hali has been long established, but he doesn’t have Houston’s awesome catch-phrase potential (unless you count me yelling “Hali, Hali, Oxen-free!” whenever he gets a sack). Houston’s 3 sacks against the Jaguars prove that his tally of 12.5 from last year isn’t a fluke. Pressure like that is what makes life easy on a secondary…And sweet Chuck Norris do I love sacks!
FACT!: Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry are two of the best young secondary players in the league. Berry has long been hailed as an elite talent since his days as a volunteer, and Brandon Flowers (“with a game as pretty as his name”) has been in pro bowls and all-pro conversations since entering this league.
There it is, I’ve jumped onboard the bandwagon as much as I possibly can. And in week two, do you really think Tony Romo can break my heart?
Rain-dancing and romancing,
Dusty “ChiefsCrush13” Riedesel