The lost generation
One of the most invigorating things about kids is that they’re always honest. They’re straight shooters in a world full of sugar-coaters. It’s a refreshing departure from the “let’s-kiss-everyone’s-butts” society we live in.
My eight-year-old brother Rory could not embody this mentality more. He’ll ask what that big red dot on your chin is without hesitation. He’ll tell me that I’m not much good at playing video games because, well, I’m not. And he will, unflinchingly, criticize the Kansas City Chiefs.
This happened again Sunday as our hometown Chiefs were surprisingly beating the Cowboys 10-3 at halftime. Quarterback Matt Cassel almost got beheaded a couple of times by DeMarcus Ware and Co., but the Chiefs were still winning — and in 2009, that’s a big deal.
Watching the game in my college apartment in Iowa City, I decided to shelve the excited text messages to anyone in my family (my dad, brother, etc.) back home in Kansas City for another hour and a half. Jinxes can be a fickle thing.
I had been talking to my sister’s boyfriend, a diehard Cowboys fan, all day. For obvious reasons, he wasn’t happy that his team was getting beaten by the slowest, least-talented, worst-coached football team in the history of the NFL. But he still called my little brother at halftime to make sure he was watching the game.
A little context for you: If Rory could wear only two articles of clothing for the rest of his life, they would be his Dwayne Bowe and Tony Romo jerseys. (What a great tandem: An inept quarterback and a lazy, inconsistent, unapologetic wide receiver. Needless to say, he’ll be getting some new jerseys for Christmas.) He loves football, and he loves the Chiefs — a least he used to.
So when my sister’s boyfriend called my brother at halftime, Rory wasn’t the least bit excited. He simply said, “They’re going to lose, just watch.”
There was that honesty again.
How did we get to this point? Starting at the age of two, my dad and I went to Arrowhead Stadium eight times a year. It was practically my second home. I grew up idolizing guys like Derrick Thomas, Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. I learned how to tailgate, how to scream at the top of my lungs for three hours without having a sore throat the next day (warm lemonade is the trick) and how to dissect a play from the stands.
Those teams in the early 1990s were stacked with talent, going 86-42 from 1990-97 (not including playoffs because, well, the playoffs were a different story). Those teams are the reason I love football.
For a variety of reasons — ridiculous ticket prices and, most importantly, a fledging product on the field — my little brother has never had that experience.
The only Chiefs he knows are the ones that have gone 6-31 since 2007. The only Chiefs he knows are the ones run by the likes of Herm Edwards and Todd Haley. The only Chiefs he knows are the ones who have lost 16 of their last 17.
There are kids just like him in places such as St. Louis wondering if the Rams will ever win the Super Bowl again. There are kids just like him in places such as Cleveland wondering if all NFL quarterbacks are as pitiful as Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. There are kids just like him in places such as Detroit wondering if going 0-16 is normal.
It’s just sad — and I didn’t even mention those poor kids in Oakland.
Oh, and as you may already know, the Chiefs predictably blew their halftime lead, losing to the Cowboys 26-20 in overtime. I didn’t have the heart to call Rory after the game, mostly because I didn’t want to hear the truth.
Scott Miller is a junior at the University of Iowa and a contributor to the National Football Post. Follow him on Twitter: @stmillr.