It seems frivolous to talk about football and music in light of the past week’s events. I know, though, that should I offer my opinions regarding those events, half of you would say, “Yea!” and the other half would say “Boo!” I would rather avoid that. Suffice to say I predicted and was opposed to the war in Iraq because I never believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I had not seen nor heard any evidence that convinced me of what we were being told, and it turns out I was correct.
In the same way, I have not seen nor heard any evidence that says our country was under imminent threat of attack by Iran last week when the US decided to assassinate Iran’s General Soleimani. The resulting string of consequences, including possibly shooting down a passenger aircraft, has left me angry, sad, and fearful.
And because I can do nothing to ameliorate the sadness and discord left in last week’s wake, I am talking about football and music.
This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will take up the challenge of getting themselves to the Super Bowl. That happened last in 1970 when Len Dawson led that awesome team to and past the Minnesota Vikings. They were on their way again the next year when Jan Stenerud, the Chiefs’ reliable kicker, missed two short field goals in The Longest Game, allowing the Miami Dolphins to squeak past, denying the Chiefs their second Super Bowl in two years. I was there. Since then, the team has struggled to find its footing, juggling a series of mediocre coaches, outstanding and middling players, and, most important, quarterbacks, both talented and ho-hum, who haven’t quite gotten the job done.
It seems, though, that over the past two years, those factors have changed. I wrote after Patrick Mahomes’ first game with the Chiefs that I thought he had it all – smarts, ability, innate talent, and most important, he was having fun playing the game. His performance last year, resulting in his receiving the Most Valuable Player award, was nothing short of stellar, and I mean he was a star. The defense, however, was not so spectacular, and the team fell short of a Super Bowl appearance by losing to the dreaded and hideous Patriots (sorry, Pats fans).
This year began much the same way last year ended. Mahomes exhibited his mighty gifts, and the defense wasn’t pulling its weight, even though the team had hired a new defensive coordinator and jettisoned almost its entire defensive team from the year before. Then the most horrible thing that could have happened did happen. Mahomes was injured. Suddenly, the team looked awful, even though the second-string quarterback, previously a high school football coach, did himself proud. The team started losing games. The ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC sports talking heads were no longer mentioning “Chiefs” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence. It looked to be all over.
But somehow, after those losses – all successive, all at Arrowhead – the team started to pull itself back together. Mahomes returned. The defense showed up. They began winning again. And so now, they stand on the precipice of doing what I believed they were destined to do when I first saw Patrick Mahomes throw the ball. I know I’m going out on a limb, but I think they can do it.
On Sunday afternoon, I will be pacing the floor in front of the fireplace, yelling at each bad play – or bad call by the officials – jumping up and down when things go right, and hoping against hope that this game will lead to the next. Sounds silly, I know, but this is where I would rather spend my passion. I would rather be hopeful than sad and fearful. And so I will.
Author’s note: I haven’t forgotten music. Assuming the weather cooperates, Katie Dake, Virginia Sparks, and I will be playing a three-piano piece at church, the one we didn’t get to play at Vespers because of – you guessed it – the horrible weather. I’m so excited! Playing with talented musicians gives me confidence that lately has been lacking. It’s going to be great!