The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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A Fanpost by flchiefsfan:

The other day as I was leaving work, I walked out with another employee whom I hadn’t said much more than “Hi” or “How are you today?” in passing conversations.  You know the obligatory dialogue, offered to people you don’t want to be rude to but don’t really have the time to shoot the breeze with?  This time we got to talk in depth because we had a long walk and were parked in the same area and got to speak on matters that are crucial for everyone, like “Are you ready for the holidays?”  His response of “Yes, I’m ready for the days off.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel”  was not really noteworthy, but my reply of “I’m seeing the darkness beyond the light, the long months between the New Year’s holiday and Memorial Day with really no days off “ sparked a thought.  Thus another fan post. 

Why had my thought gone beyond the near future (the upcoming 10 days and the office being closed for a 4 day weekend, etc.) to the future beyond of no holidays until May?  Perhaps it has something to do with my football team.  Was it their performances in the previous 49 Decembers that lead to that conditioned thought?  Could it be moving beyond regular season football which usually ends in December and the lack of success in the playoffs that make it a long wait until next season?  Maybe it has something to do with the Chiefs being so successful in December (the light at the end of the tunnel) and not so successful in the playoffs (the darkness beyond the light) that make having to wait until September for another meaningful game feel like that seemingly endless stretch of workdays between New Years and Memorial Day.  I had to know, so I did some research. 

Since 1970, the Chiefs are 97-85-1 in December, if my math is correct and the website I used as reference can be trusted.  If we throw in the rare January regular season games, where they are 5-5, they are 102-90-1.  OK, it’s a winning record, so I may be on to something.  There were a few bad stretches where they lost the month (74-75, 77-78 , 81-83, 06-09, 12-13) with none being as brutal as the 2007-2009 stretch, winning just 1 of 13 December games.    

The Chiefs have been pretty good in December, posting a .500 or better record in that month 32 of 48 times in my reference period.  There was a year where the Chiefs went undefeated in the month and ended up with a losing record for the season (2004 7-9 for the season, 4-0 in December) and a year where they did not win a December game and had a winning record for the season (1996 9-7 for the season, 0-3 for December).  The December performance didn’t always reflect the actual season, which might justify the “finish strong and have something to build upon for next season” saying, if it actually meant something in the following season that is.

Just as the December performance didn’t reflect much on the actual season, it also didn’t reflect on the performance in the post season, either.  Over that same period, the Chiefs made the playoffs 16 times and amassed an incredible 4 victories, with 2 of them occurring in the 1993 playoffs.  Of the 16 playoff appearances, 12 occurred after having a winning December (a .500 or greater record – I know, .500 isn’t technically a “winning” record, but it is for this article).  The year the Chiefs won the Super Bowl?  They were 1-1 in December and 3-0 in the playoffs.  This December?  1-1 (with 2 victories waiting in the wings.   Postseason?  2 victories, a Hunt and a Lombardi trophy waiting).    

So, did my research prove that my outlook might be influenced by the successful final month of the season and the letdown of an unsuccessful post season?  It could be, but probably isn’t.  I mean, the Chiefs never have the exact same coaching staff and/or players year to year.  There are always changes albeit not a full clearing of the roster, so what happened 25 years ago has no real impact today.  There is a similarity, I think, about being positive in the moment (looking forward to the holiday or experiencing a winning month) and knowing the “post-event let down” follows.   If nothing else, I learned that the Chiefs, overall, have been a pretty good December team.

Now if they can only give me post season successes and Super Bowl victories, maybe those periods of darkness following the event won’t feel nearly as long…or dark.