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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

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Friday, November 02, 2012

Looking Up From Despair

Photo by Denny Medley -- US Presswire.
Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey 
Written content only

A writer never wants to admit to a state of wordlessness. Creative verbiage, after all, is our sandbox, our playground. But attempting to characterize the Chief's Thursday night tilt against the San Diego Chargers is a true test of any wordsmith.

Ugly doesn’t begin to describe it.  Even a stark and simple an expression as that utterly fails to describe what happened at QualCom.

This was beyond ugly. This was morning-after-the-bachelor-party ugly. This was medical-school-hemorrhoid-training-video ugly. This was 2 A.M.-and-the-bar’s-closing ugly.

It was even worse than Chris-Christie-in-a-Speedo ugly.

I’ve been a Chiefs fan for 47 years. What is history for many are memories for me. I was 14 years old on that early January day at Tulane Stadium in 1970, yet it seems as fresh to me as if it had happened yesterday. Every year since has been a renewal of hope dashed by disappointments too numerous to enumerate.

From that brief scintillating stand atop the NFL pyramid, it has been a long trip downhill. And after watching the Chiefs utterly embarrass themselves in front of a national TV audience, as a fan, I think we’ve reached the floor of a very deep canyon.

The relationship between the Chiefs and their Nation of fans has always been one as deeply passionate and devoted as the perfect wedding night. Now, face-to-face with the harsh reality of a completely wasted season, the love is fading. Estrangement may be imminent.

The hope that shone so brightly in the off-season with the return of three pro-bowlers from injuries is now a dark shroud. In 9 days, this team will again appear on the national stage on a Monday night in Pittsburgh. I, for one, wince at the possibilities.

In a way, the two teams at either end of the Truman Sports Complex find themselves in like positions. It wasn’t always this way. You could count on some relief. When the Chiefs were bad, the Royals were winning. And when the boys in blue began to sag, the Chiefs were making almost annual trips to the post season. Now, both teams are in the dumper.

And probably for the same reason.


Both team’s problems start on the sidelines and in the dugout and extend upward through the chain of command all the way to the executive suites. This is where the real decisions are made. Not the ones having to do with bunt or swing away, or punt or go for it on fourth down, but the decisions that shape a team, establish it’s personality, and set it on the path to success. The Royals, at least can look to their farm system and know that daylight is just around the corner. For the Chiefs, however, a biblical shroud of darkness has fallen, one that is likely to remain for much longer than the proverbial three days.

As fans, our spirits cry for action. Dire has become desperate; the dam is leaking and its time to flee the valley. But we have no apparent control over what happens in those offices. All we can do is suffer.

But we are not without leverage.

Perhaps Mr. Pioli finds it hard to be motivated when he can look out at 77,000 fans still crowding into Arrowhead to watch this rush hour multi-vehicle crash in progress. One wonders, though, if his desires might change if he looked up and saw only 50,000. Or less. Sports franchises are, after all, businesses, driven by a bottom line. And the thing that makes that bottom line is, as Billy Martin once put it, “butts in seats.”

We love this team. It is a big part of the pride that people have in this city. But as any old married couple will tell you, there are times when the love goes stale. Perhaps it is time for a temporary separation. At least if we walk away for a time, perhaps the ache will ease.

It is the only leverage we have. Maybe, just maybe, it will finally force the hand of the folks at 1 Arrowhead Way. 
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