Chiefs Fever Grips County

Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
OMG!  Oh my gosh!  It’s REALLY happening!  In less than two weeks; Andy “Big Red” Reid, Patrick “Showtime” Mahomes, Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu and the Kansas City Chiefs will touch down in the beautiful and tropical city of Miami, Florida where they’ll represent the American Football Conference in Super Bowl LIV.  They’ll alight their jetliner in tropical gear, luxurious suits and surely some other eccentric outfits.  They’ll have many mandatory appearances as directed by the National Football League in the preceding week.  But on the eve of Sunday, February 2, 2020, their cleats will pierce the field of Hard Rock Stadium and they’ll take on the San Francisco 49ers in one of, if not the most popular annual sporting event of the year.  
According to Nielsen, a national measurement firm, each year the NFL’s championship event draws an average television audience of nearly one million viewers in the United States alone.  Worldwide, the Super Bowl will have a potential audience of around one billion people in over 200 countries.  And on Super Bowl Sunday, a day that is considered another holiday by many fans of the NFL, many Benton County residents will contribute to those numbers when they tune-in to watch their Kansas City Chiefs in their first Super Bowl appearance since 1970 when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7 to win their first world championship.
“I watched the Chiefs in the late 1960’s with my dad and I was excited when they won the first one,” Warsaw’s Vince Wright said.  “I’ve been waiting ever since for them to go back to the Super Bowl!”
Beth Drake, owner of Osage Mini-Mart in Warsaw, said, “Growing up as a child of a parent who grew up in Kansas City, the Chiefs games always made the difference as to what time we would eat Sunday dinner.  If they played early, we at late.  If they played late, we ate early.  But we didn’t miss a Chiefs game!”
Drake went on to say, “Being able to experience the playoffs these last two seasons has been awesome!  The excitement of the games and seeing the fans caring for each other, cheering and just wanting the same thing . . . their OUR Kansas City Chiefs!”
Drake was lucky enough to be at the game on Sunday and said that the experience was second-to-none.  
“Sunday was truly emotional and there were definitely a lot of teary eyes,” she said.  “Being able to see the field transform into what felt like our own Super Bowl and for Lamar Hunt’s (now deceased and former owner of the Chiefs) wife and family to be able to be there to see the win and accept the trophy with his name was very exciting!”
The experience was unknowingly shared by other local fans.
“Arrowhead is a special place, especially in December and January.  And cold weather Arrowhead is even better,” Warsaw’s Jordon Griffin stated.  “There’s just something about hearing the national anthem and having the military flyover.  It sets the tone for the crowd to do what it does and that makes your ear drums rattle.  The whole game was a surreal experience.  I sat four rows behind the bench and I got a firsthand look at Patty (Mahomes) firing up our offense.  I’ll never forget the day that the Lamar Hunt trophy came back to Kansas City!”
“We were there,” Warsaw’s John Wilson said.  “My oldest son, John and I got to experience this piece of Chiefs history and I love that I had the chance to enjoy that moment with him and the rest of Chiefs Kingdom!  Just seeing all of the fans in tears and everyone hugging total strangers; it was amazing!”
Other fans may not have been there in person, but have waited their whole lives to see an appearance of their team in the Super Bowl.  
“The Chiefs winning and going to the Super Bowl is one of the greatest days ever,” Warsaw’s Mrs. Shawn Adair said.  “I’ve waited my whole life for this day because I remember watching the games with my grandma and grandpa and they loved their Chiefs.  They made me a Chiefs fan and I’m just so excited!”
Lifelong Chiefs fan Bobby Gillespie used to live in Raytown but is now a Lincoln resident.  He said, “Growing up in Raytown and just 3 blocks from Arrowhead Stadium, this means the world to me.  We used to be able to hear the roar from the stadium and saw the crowds and my entire family has lived through every agonizing year.  But we never wavered and are as loyal as can be.”
“I’ve been waiting over 42 years,” Warsaw’s Kelly Drake said.  “My mom and my grandparents instilled my love of football and Chiefs into me growing up.  I will pass that on to my children too and enjoy seeing my kids light up and get excited over the Chiefs.”
Other Chiefs fans also state that their children are a big reason for their exhilaration.  
“The best part of watching this run of the Chiefs to the Super Bowl has been getting to experience and enjoy it with my wife and kids,” John Boise Middle School principal Billy Daleske said.  “My boys dress up like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce for every game and they do the tomahawk chop throughout the entire game.”
Warsaw elementary teacher Nick Kern said, “I’m definitely excited for my kids to experience this because we’ve instilled ‘Chiefs Kingdom’ into them since they were old enough to know what football was.  They were nearly in tears yesterday when we (the Chiefs) held the Titans on 4th down late in the game because they knew that we (again, the Chiefs) had done it!”
Moments from this past Sunday’s AFC Championship game will forever be etched into many memories.  
“The 60-yard touchdown to Sammy Watkins was my favorite moment,” Griffin said.  “It was at that moment that I knew that the trophy was coming home to the Hunt family in Kansas City.”
“There were a lot of plays made in the game that had me jumping up and down,” Kern said.  “But the moments that captivated me were watching the trophy presentation and interviews after the win.”
Gillespie’s favorite moment was the win itself.  “My favorite moment is easy; it’s when we won.  And I may or may not have ran with a Chiefs flag and jumped into a pond . . . I was that excited!”
Seeing the Chiefs return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years has touched many fans of many ages. 
Though he hasn’t had to wait near as long as many others, Daleske’s 5-year old son, Regan said, “I am SUPER happy!”
“They just deserve this trip to the Super Bowl,” Warsaw’s Jeri Cain said.  They’ve waited way too long.”
Yes they have, Mrs. Cain.  Yes, they have.