The Most Important Question

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Last weekend, my beautiful wife made the following statement:

I like football, but I don’t appreciate it on the same level as you.”

While honest and respectable — since she does watch every single Chiefs game with me and follows all of my heart-held traditions — deep down, it made me sad. Who can’t appreciate this game? For all it has to offer, and all of the subplots, the side stories, the intrigue of the match-up as much as the structure of the sport itself?

It drove me to wonder, what if we could explain the nuances that we as hardcore fanatics focus on, in such a way that paints this particular game in such a light as the “casual television audience” would appreciate?

The Dance

Who here has been held captive to watch “The Masked Singer”? Just me? Okay, well, it’s a singing ‘talent’ show where celebrities who are hidden behind a facade come and ply their showtime talents, and a panel has to guess who each individual is under the mask.

There’s a correlation here, if you bear with me. In the show, nobody knows who these performers truly are — just as, in sports, we aren’t always sure who is going to show up during each game. In “T.M.S.”, people judge and make formulations on who is what after each performance — much as we do when we watch certain players take the field.

We constantly evaluate these athletes on a game-by-game basis, and everything has to do with their performance. Nobody cares the size of their bank account, or their nose, they only truly operate off of the assumption that they’re supposed to be the best at what they do …

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The Back Story

I’m not sure this will fit perfectly into everyone else’s box, but I have a close friend who is a fan of professional wrestling — but not sports. I don’t get it, but I also know that this particular person is a huge fan of theatrics and production, which plays a big part in the National Football League.

You’ll rarely see a promotional shot of an upcoming game that simply says, “Chiefs versus Broncos, next Sunday.” It will typically outline the best position groups between the clubs — something like, Mahomes takes on the Denver defense, or Keenum/Flacco attempt to look decent against a mediocre secondary.

Okay, that last one isn’t very breathtaking.

However, this league is built on promotions and back stories and match-ups, much like any other programming. Understanding the way each team stacks up against the other, and how that translates to possible winning potential, helps to bolster the intrigue of the game. The key component to this particular aspect is the knowledge of …

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The Game Play

When I was a young Warthog (feel free to sing the next part, I’ll wait …) I remember asking my father, “why does that guy just run directly into the pile of bodies when he could just run around them?”

I didn’t appreciate or understand the choreography that goes into football — the intrinsic ballet of positioning eleven men into their designated areas and ensuring they fulfilled their specific duties.

On any given play, there are 22 men on the field, each assigned with a task. These tasks are sometimes simplistic — fill the gap — and sometimes difficult; tracking a receiver to the top of a route tree and then basically using instinct and experience to anticipate the break is as complex a task as figuring out peace in the Middle East.

This required precision is what separates these athletes from the rest of us. Dedication to understanding their responsibilities and assignments, as well as the physical talents to achieve the desired results.

Conclusion

When appreciated at its’ finest, football is a beautiful dance. It is taught and finessed by some of the greatest teachers in the realm, and perfected with repetition and studious approach. It is a dangerous ballet of destruction that, at its’ core, is practiced and edited down to the finest of details.

When a quarterback threads the needle on a perfect pass, it most likely isn’t the first time (unless he is Mahomes). When a linebacker reads the proper gap and tallies a tackle for loss, that man probably studied more tape that week than the coaches. When a corner comes down with an interception, it is the product of years of interpreting routes and learning the proper anticipation and use of his body. When a running back hits an interior gap for a huge gain, it’s not luck …

Nobody runs into the pile for nothing.

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IrezumiChief
IrezumiChief

Good article… I never watched football until around 2003. I spent my younger years as a not so great person, and some drug stuff landed me in prison. A guy (ironically a Broncos fan) who I shared a cell with got me to start watching. When I was younger, my dad and I used to play chess a lot. This cellmate of mine told me football was just like chess. Each guy had a certain job and a certain way to move.
It suddenly all started to make sense to me. I was also adopted when I was a kid, but was originally from KC. My biological dad lives about 10 blocks from the stadium. That’s how I ended up picking the Chiefs to be my team. I later got out, turned my life around, got married, own a business and stayed off of the meth and BS for 16 years now. This entire time, the Chiefs have become one of my new addictions so to speak. We have season tickets etc. I can’t tell you how many times I have applied things I have heard coaches say and the such, to help shape decisions in my life and to try and help my kids out.
Sorry if I got off subject there and wrote too much, but I can’t help but agree that once folks understand what’s happening on the field, a major love, sometimes obsession happens for this game. Anyway, happy Saturday all!!

Sudden
Sudden

That’s an amazing story and it’s pretty cool that the chiefs were a part of your journey to living a better life for yourself. Props my man

Berserker

What I tell non-football people, is that football is the sport that has a place for everybody. If you’re big, you can play on the line. If you’re small and fast, you can play on the edges. And if you’re in between, then you can play, well, in between. As long as you’ve got some type of athletic ability in you, there’s a place for you on a football field. And if you’re not athletic at all, then you can learn to throw and play QB.

I think the same goes for watching football. For example, I don’t understand line play, never have and probably never will; but on the other hand, I loved playing RB, and I love watching a good RB, and I like to think I have a fair understanding of whether or not a RB that I’m watching is a good talent. And then, I used to not understand or pay much attention to QB play, but because of my favorite team’s…infamous issues in that area, I got an interest and studied it for a bit, and now not only do I understand it somewhat, but I even developed an appreciation for what a QB does.

TNCHIEFS
TNCHIEFS

Dave, I like your stuff. Just last night I told someone that football is “symphony of violence.”

MasterChief
MasterChief

Cool article! I also see more than meets the eye with football. I could write a whole dissertation on what football means to me, from the athletic beauty of a player to comparing teams to armies and generals going to battle.

legal_kush
legal_kush

You went to Wartburg?

When I was a young Warthog

heh.

Tyrone
Tyrone

Very good….very great.

I love watching a perfect play where every player on the field executes their job to perfection. It might look like 1 or 2 players just made a great play, but then you go back and watch it again and you see all the pieces that had to come together.

BleedingRedAndGold

And I’d say that those plays are not highlight reel-type plays, more often than not. Highlight reel stuff is more often a play that turns on the skills of a player or two doing something extraordinary. A perfectly executed play is more along the lines of a 7-yard slant for a first down from 3rd and 5. Not flashy, but when a play goes off like clockwork, it’s effective and moves the chains.

Sudden
Sudden

I had a philosophy professor in college who was originally from Chile and came to the states in his 20s to study at UCLA. He grew up passionate about soccer but when he started to learn about American football, it quickly became his favorite sport. He said it was a physical game of chess. It really is. Lineman as pawns, WRs/CBs as rooks, TEs/Safeties as knights, RBs/LBs as bishops, and the QB as a combination king and queen.

CHIEFSandSABRES

This is one of the best things I’ve read on this site. Great job.

Icemanx44
Icemanx44

Two questions that are off topic but; 1) is there a way to conveniently get reply notifications in one spot, 2) if one so wanted to how would one write a fan post?

BleedingRedAndGold

Since we don’t have afternoon open threads, I’ll mention it here. Lost power for a few hours today, a regional power distribution station went down, I’m guessing, since several towns were without power. But the worst of it is that I was juuust about finished with a pithy comment in the Open Huddle thread when it hit. I hate it when that happens.

starry1

Nice write up.

Team Player
Team Player

There’s definitely a ballet within the collisions

Well
Stated

BleedingRedAndGold

Back when he was “The Boss”, there’s a Springsteen quotethat applies just as well: “There’s a ballet being fought out in the alley”.

Fire_FG_the_moron
Fire_FG_the_moron

Never knew trucking your opponent could be compared to a dance. +1 for you