St. Louis sports broke my heart. But these Kansas City Chiefs have finally won it | Opinion

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My St. Louis badge may get revoked for this: After years in football purgatory I’m thinking of joining the Kansas City Chiefs fan base known as the Kingdom.

After four trips to the Super Bowl in five seasons, is there any room left for me on the bandwagon?

I don’t want to come off as only seeking a front-runner and become a fan just because the team is winning. I moved to Kansas City in 2007. It’s taken me 17 years to get to this point.

But I’m a huge football fan and have no NFL team to root for. In my lifetime, I’ve lost two franchises to other cities. To protect my football-loving heart, I chose not to cheer for any particular pro team, especially one from across the state from where I was born.

Kansas City — the team and the city — is on fire right now. When I moved here from south St. Louis city in 2007 the team wasn’t all that great. I’m a KC resident, a close relative reminded me recently. Why wouldn’t I root for the Chiefs?

I am loyal and stubborn to a fault. It has been hard for me to passionately support the Chiefs — or the Royals for that matter. I’ve never worn either team’s jersey. One hometown friend said he would revoke my St. Louis pass for sure if I did. Another close friend I’ve known for 30 years is a die-hard Kansas Citian. He told me he couldn’t wait to see me in a red Chiefs jersey.

I would never, I said. But the last few years of Chiefs football has made it easier to root for them. Since star quarterback Patrick Mahomes became a full-time starter in 2018, the team has won four AFC championships and two Super Bowl trophies.

Under Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid, Kansas City will play for its third world title in Super Bowl 58 Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Most likely I will watch the big game from home. I don’t own Chiefs gear. I have about a week to figure out what to wear on game day.

When the Cardinals, Rams left St. Louis

I grew up in the 1980s watching the St. Louis football Cardinals play on local television. In 1988, the franchise moved to Arizona, leaving a void in the life of football fans in that city.

Until the Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis for the 1995 season, I refused to pick up another team. Despite star running back Jerome Bettis’ holdout to start that season, I still purchased a replica of Bettis’ #36 blue and gold Rams jersey.

I kept that one for years and wore it the day the Rams — known then as the Greatest Show on Turf because of its explosive offense — won Super Bowl 34 in Atlanta.

Two years later, we lost Super Bowl 36 to New England. The Patriots would go on to win five more world championships.

Meanwhile, billionaire Rams owner Stan Kronke did everything in his power to sabotage the team. In 2016, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles and my football fandom hasn’t been the same since.

When asked which NFL team I support, I often say, I’m a jilted lover. A pro football nomad of sorts. I’ve been left at the altar by two teams. My heart can’t stand to lose a third.

When Kansas legislators started courting the Chiefs to relocate across the state line, I understood why Chiefs fans in Missouri would oppose that move.

No, I will not consider shouting “home of the Chiefs” at the end of the national anthem. I maintain that tradition is disrespectful to l everything the U.S. flag stands for. This silly little sing-along is not cute and needs to stop.

Nor would I ever do the Arrowhead chop, the back-and-forth arm motion Chiefs fans use as a rallying cry. That too should go. The cheer is offensive and insensitive to Native American culture.

I do wonder if that disqualifies me for the Kingdom.

Family, close friends react

For this column, I reached out to close family members and friends in both cities to get their reaction about this emerging allegiance to the Chiefs.

A younger cousin, Jarod Powell, 36, said: “You’re a local. And they are the Missouri Chiefs. You were born and raised in St. Louis but you’re a resident of Kansas City. It’s open picking season,” to choose a new team.

Powell, by the way, is a fan of the Los Angeles Rams. I could never root for a LA-based team that left me and other St. Louis fans hanging.

My mom and dad were both supportive, as was another buddy from my hometown. But LarMore Maclin, a former college football teammate at Central Missouri in Warrensburg, wasn’t as understanding.

“I would disown our football friendship and suspend your STL card for three years,” Maclin, 49, of St. Louis, wrote in a text. He wasn’t joking. “Sorry. Loyalty comes with a price.”

Maclin added: “If you’re from St. Louis and root for the Chiefs because they’re from Missouri, you’re a sucka!”

Another former teammate, Wayne Carter, of Kansas City, invited me into the Kingdom with open arms. Carter, a 1989 graduate of Southeast High School, has been a loyal Chiefs fan since I’ve known him. In the early 1990s, he introduced me to all things Kansas City, including a beef on bun sandwich from Gates Bar-B-Q and Sunday car shows at Swope Park.

“Can’t wait to see you in that red,” Carter said.

It was Carter and my other college classmates from Kansas City that l saw agonize over each Chiefs’ loss. Since, I’ve learned Kansas City is a much better place to be when the hometown team wins.

And boy has the last half dozen years been great to witness. I want in.

Chiefs Kingdom, where do I sign up?

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