The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions. After 50 long years, Chiefs fans can finally celebrate.
Every fan of the Kansas City Chiefs can relate to one another. No matter the reason of our fandom, being a fan of the Chiefs has been bittersweet for half a century. Half a century. Just a few weeks over 50 years. 2,612 weeks to be exact. 18,284 days, 483,820 hours, 26,328,960 minutes, or 1,579,737,600 seconds. Now multiple generations can once again, finally, call themselves fans of a champion. For many of Chiefs Kingdom, our thoughts went straight to so many of those that are no longer with us.
What makes this Super Bowl win so special is that most of us have gone through year after year coming up short. Sometimes just four inches short, other times seasons were never worth the measuring. Many of the Kingdom understand the possibility of never seeing this happen again. As unlikely as it seemed 50 years ago, it could happen again. Granted, this time the best player on the football field is wearing red. For those of us fortunate enough to watch the Chiefs trade up to get a quarterback out of Texas Tech in 2017, to watch him throw for 50 and 5,000 on his way to a league MVP and to now being a Super Bowl Champion, we got to witness what many never did.
Last year I wrote a piece approaching this deeper meaning of being a Chiefs fan. I mentioned stories of a little boy that had lost his father right before the AFC Championship game in 2019, sitting in the stands without his daddy. I also told the story of a little girl who had grown up with her dad, a Chiefs fan worthy of all Chiefs fans. There she would be, her father watching from heaven, clinging to the best memories of her childhood, continuing to root for the Chiefs at a die-hard level. Because that was what she shared with her daddy. These stories will pull at your heartstrings for sure.
We all have our own stories like these. We all have people that were in our lives that never got to witness the Chiefs not only bring home the Lamar Hunt trophy, but the Lombardi trophy as well. Fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters and friends. Those that passed in the last 50 years, diehard fans that never got to see their team hoist the championship.
For myself personally, my thoughts went back to that fatherless little boy and that fatherless little girl. I though about each of my uncles that spent every Sunday between the months of September and January rooting for a team that never gave them the outcome they spent so much time rooting for. Then a notification came across my Twitter feed. I wasn’t alone. We were not alone.
A woman by the name of Kathleen Alexander pinned an idea, an opportunity for Chiefs fans from all over, with their own losses, to honor those who were unable to witness our beloved Chiefs play in the Super Bowl. Kathleen Alexander is a lifelong Chiefs fan. She like many across the nation became a fan not by choice, but by inheritance. Her father, Bob Larson was a Red Coater and a member of the Chiefs Club. The seats they sit in today were her fathers original seats from when the stadium opened.
“From the time I can remember, my Dad took me to all the Chiefs practices he could and the Chief’s luncheons every August. I was fortunate enough to meet so many players growing up. I remember Gary Spani one time coming to get me from the bench telling me my dad wanted to take a picture of me on the field. I was probably around 11-12 years old. As we were walking, Gary was teasing me about a crush I had on another player – who happened to be the person my dad wanted me to take the picture with. I was mortified but everyone else thought it was hysterical! The luncheons were always so much fun except I always wanted the players to sit at our table and my dad always wanted the cheerleaders to sit with us. I think he would request them vs the players just to tease me. I remember the stories he would tell about some of the players, about how kind they were and how big their hearts were – two come to mind immediately – Joe Delaney and Derrick Thomas. My dad was devastated by both their deaths. The other thing that truly sticks out in my mind is that my dad never, ever gave up hope with the Chiefs going to the SB. Even the years we only won 2 games, he would always say “We’ll get it next year!” His faith and loyalty were undying. You would never hear him say one negative thing about them – not about the coaches, not about the staff, not about the players and not about management. He never doubted for one minute that we wouldn’t be back at an SB!”
How many of us know someone just like Kathleen and her father, Bob? When Bob became ill, Scott Pioli himself had called Mr. Larson to tell him best wishes. Pioli even sent a “care” package to the hospital. Kathleen is each and every one of us. In typical Chiefs fashion, she got engaged on her way to a game in San Diego. She made sure to point out the Chiefs won that game.
Like Kathleen, the Chiefs had always played a major role in her life, as they do in our own lives. What she did during the week of the Super Bowl not only showed how important being a Chiefs fan is, but how much this team has impacted everyone involved.
“When we found out we were going to the SB, our daughters both told me I had to go for Papa. I just kept thinking my dad needs to be there. My dad should be there. A few days before we were heading out to Miami, I came down with the flu. However, nothing was going to stop me from seeing our boys win the SB!! My doctor prescribed Tamiflu and I was able to fly out that Friday before. When we arrived in Miami, the car we had reserved was not available. They gave us a Volvo SUV to drive. When I got in the car, I noticed little Swedish flags on the seats. Both my dad’s parents immigrated to the US from Sweden. It was a sign to me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I wanted some way to bring my dad with me to the SB though. On Saturday (the day before the SB), I had a Twitter friend that DM’d me & asked me to write his mom’s name on a piece of paper and bring it into the SB with me. I told him I was going to do that for my dad and I would be honored to do that for his mom. I also told him I would post something to see if anyone else might have a loved one that has passed that would like to go to the SB too. At most I thought I would be taking in an 8.5×11 piece of paper with me. I honestly had no idea that it was going to explode like that!
The stories people were sharing about their loved ones passing were incredible. One was a son whose father was a holocaust survivor. Another was from a mom who had recently lost her 5 year old daughter. There were several from friends and family members who had loved ones that had just been buried the day before or a few days before. It was from people who had loved ones that loved the Chiefs and should be there to experience this moment we had all been waiting for. I was an emotional mess all day reading all these amazing and touching stories.
We didn’t leave the hotel on Saturday until close to 3 pm because I couldn’t stop reading everyone’s posts. I was truly humbled and in awe by all of the responses. So my husband John and I went to Wal-mart Saturday night and bought poster board and sharpies. I stayed up until almost 3:30 am Sunday morning writing all the names that had come through. When I got back up to get ready for the game, there were more beautiful stories and more names. I took the sharpie and the poster with me to our tailgate party…names just kept coming. I think I had 300+ names. I was still receiving names days after the SB (but they didn’t get on the poster). What started out with me bringing my dad to the SB he should have been at, became one that so many Chiefs fans who had passed should have been at. I can say it was an absolute honor that people trusted me with their stories of their loved ones and to bring them to the game.”
At the risk of sounding cliche, being a part of the Chiefs Kingdom is like being a part of a gigantic family. We love one another as long as you’re bleeding red and know the true lyrics to our National Anthem.
Our fandom doesn’t know politics, religions, races or ethnic backgrounds. It doesn’t know age or gender. It only knows passion and loyalty.
For 50 years Chiefs, fans have murmured the words “sometime in my lifetime”. For those of us here, now, that time has come. For those that we lost in 2019, 2003, 1995, 1986, 1971, and every year in between, those wonderful people never got to see what we did.
This type of thing makes you want to stare up to the stars and yell out, “WE DID IT!!!”.
So for those that went before us, those that cancer has claimed, that heart disease has captured, that a freak accident and/or a drunk driver have taken away from us, we did it. The ghosts of Kingdoms past live on and live strong within each of us. The bond between us has always been unbreakable. Thank you to my dad for placing me into the position I am in presently. Thanks to my mom for still trying to figure out the game 38 years later, because her children are so vested.
Each of us probably has a flurry of names we could have posted on that poster, thousands upon thousands of names. People who may have just popped up in memory as Damien Williams sealed the game along the far sideline. So many of us wishing that someone “could have seen this”. Kathleen’s story is one of many similar stories. She won’t be forgotten by any of those who had names placed on that poster. People who were gone, but ever-so-present during Super Bowl 54. This one wasn’t for us, this one was for them, in my own opinion. (Super Bowl 55, however, I may claim for myself.)
To the Burrows family, the Lawson family, the Taylor family, Shawn Sluder, Jon Matson, and every one I know I missed: We did it! The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions!
“This game has been 50 years in the making and one I have wished and waited forever for. This Super Bowl meant everything to me because I know my dad was with me every step of the way.”
God Bless Kathleen, and everyone else who had the mindset to make a difference for someone during this Super Bowl run. We are one, Chiefs Kingdom.