It started as a whisper Saturday afternoon and then grew steadily louder. There was no possible way that it should be audible at this distance, yet there it was. It sounded much like a teapot’s screeching hiss as it’s contents begins to bubble, growing louder until it finally reaches a steady scream as steam spews from it’s spout letting you know it is finished.
This was a sound that I was familiar with, in fact I had grown up with it. It still didn’t make sense that I was hearing it though. When I had stopped watching the Chiefs game they were up by twenty one points at the half. The announcers were talking about an end to the twenty year playoff win drought… but even as I was trying to chip remnants of the last snow from the sidewalk I knew that what I was hearing was my father’s agony as he watched his beloved Chiefs fall apart once again.
First let me explain to you what it was like to grow up with a man who bleeds red and yellow, it might help you understand how he was audible some forty miles away.
He often brags that he was a Chiefs fan before they were even the Chiefs, back in the day of the illustrious Dallas Texans. If you pry a little he will probably tell you about the time he had to stop the car as he was driving back from California to listen to their win over the Vikings in Superbowl X. That’s right, big ole number 10… in hindsight it was a good thing he stopped to listen, it turned out to be the last chance he would have for awhile.
On top of being a long time fan, he was an extremely dedicated one. He went to all but one of the training camps the Chiefs held in Wisconsin and before that, almost weekly to William Jewel. Don’t mention it to him, but he would drag my poor mother, brother and I to the training camp on the hottest days in August. I can see him standing there now, a childlike look of wonder in his eyes.
“Eric… Eric… Do you see how big those guys are? It’s amazing.”
“Yeah, they are big alright, I bet it is even hotter when you are that big” I said as I wilted in the scorching summer sun. Sure they were big, for the love of Pete, I was three foot four inches. Frankly it was surprising they didn’t have a bean stalk leading to their locker room. All I wanted was the Mister Misty he had promised us if we would quit fighting.
There he stood, every chance he got. Regardless what he might be calling them in just a few short weeks, the season hadn’t started yet, there was still hope.
And so it went, year after year. The hopes of a new quarterback, OK generally an older quarterback. This running back was the key. That offensive lineman was going to be the difference. Look at the size of that guys feet?!?!
Try as they might a post season birth wasn’t in the cards, regardless of his loyalty and our rituals. For instance, before each game he and I would play catch. Just before we went in for kick off we would “huddle”, he the crusty veteran QB and I the rookie phenom wide receiver.
“OK, we have to get four in a row for the Chiefs to get a victory” he would say each week.
Generally we got the completions without a bobble but every once in a while I would miss one. He was always good to make up some excuse for me. Pass interference or maybe the ball was tipped by Cliff Branch but I could see it on his face, there was a chance I had just cost the Chiefs the game.
Possibly that is why all these years later I went outside for the second half of the game, I couldn’t bear to watch it. That is definitely why I could hear him entering into a tirade that would make Ralphies’ dad from the Christmas Story blush. That was his way of letting the Chiefs know he was finished with them for good…. but don’t worry, he’ll be back next year. That is what being a true Chiefs fan is, you come back year after year, because there is always hope.