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A Chief Concern: On Being a Humanist and an NFL Fan

December 26, 2016

I guess I picked a bad year to stop paying attention, in general, to the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs. I say “in general” because, over the past 3-4 weeks, I’ve been eyeing a few stories about the team’s successes. The Chiefs are doing well and I’ve mostly missed out.

My first love has always been baseball, but, until this year, I had been paying attention to the Chiefs since 1989. I watched a great many games during the Schottenheimer and Vermeil years. I even attended a playoff game once, in the 1990s, with my father and uncle. I kept following the Chiefs during the first few years of Reid’s tenure.

But I had given up on the NFL—meaning, primarily, watching games—because of the concussion scandal. Why bother with a league and a game that had put its players at risk for so long? It was revolting. It’s hard for this humanist to put aside he disgust I felt for NFL owners, league officials, and coaches. No league, nor the overseers of any organized sporting activity, should ever put profits over the health of its players. I know that corrections have been made to health protocols. But are they enough? How can concerned and feeling fans be sure? (Aside: Yes, one can be a “feeling fan” in the context of football.)

Returning to the present, this Chiefs team seems like fun. They have interesting offensive players, a smart head coach, and an above average defense. They are not the best team in the NFL. That title belongs to the Patriots. Yet the Chiefs appear to be among the best of the rest.

Do I risk attending again? Should I make the Chiefs a concern for my fan-level affections for the remainder of the season and through the playoffs? – TL


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  1. I’m with you, although I think I liked the Chiefs first. I started liking baseball more as a kid as a way to be unique and because I felt a stronger connection to them (that’s another story). But growing up in KC in the 90s the Chiefs were it. As you said, Vermeil resurrected that in the early aughts.

    I’ve dithered on giving up football. I readily admit that I cannot and will not give up college football — I study it, but there is also something about it that I can watch no matter who is playing. I’ve given up both at times, but the Chiefs have been easier to let slip away. This is in part because I live out of market and can only see 3-4 games per year on my local channels. NFL games were always too expensive and none of my family wanted to go, so I’ve never went to many. I did go to the playoff disaster at Indianapolis in 2014 — which I regret!

    I watched last night, and I listen on the radio every so often. But the Chiefs are no longer regularly scheduled watching. I think it is OK to follow them, to read online, send an occasional Tweet, but I don’t seek out opportunities to watch them if I can’t. I don’t obsess over them and follow their offseason. I like sports and I support my hometown, so I want them to do well, but if they don’t I don’t get mad or upset. The NFL just is, for me. I’ll put it on as white noise, or watch at a bar if its on, but I don’t play fantasy, I don’t follow it week to week, I don’t make it a central part of my sports life.


    • Thanks Andrew, for the extensive comment. I hear you about the NFL being a “just is” entity. My resistance is somewhat meaningless. But I can’t help think about the players deceived over the years. My hope is that the concussion protocols now are meaningful, and that at least players are participated with full “buyer beware” stickers on their brains, so to speak (no pun intended). – TL


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