Former Chiefs: A GAME OF HOMES

Arrowhead is undoubtedly the best home stadium in the NFL. Perhaps the world. The volume level of the fans here make it so. While the fans remain as loud, loyal, and true as you will find anywhere, there have been players who have not claimed Arrowhead — and Kansas City for that matter — as their one true home.

 

Back in the days before Curt Flood (baseball) and the birth of “free agency” professional players had to stay with one team their whole careers unless they were traded. Actually, in the NFL, free agency already existed prior to that time but, it wasn’t until 1962 that R.C. Owens decided to move from the San Francisco 49ers to the Baltimore Colts. Of course, that resulted in the 9er’s owner Vic Morabito refusing to even talk with the Colts Carroll Rosenbloom… ever again.

 

The point is… there was a time when players stayed with one “home” team… but nowadays even the stars like Tony Gonzalez, or Jared Allen, don’t stay with their original organizations: by choice or not. The most recent Chiefs player who has found another home is the long time fan favorite, running back Jamaal Charles. Now, Charles is the subject of many fan’s vitriol and consternation. Some of it deserved, some not.

 

There have been many Chiefs players to come and go, find other homes and get away unscathed by the slings and arrows of Chiefs fans. The reason for that may have to do with the longevity of a specific player and for others, it has to do with the reason for their leaving and, maybe more than anything, the way those players handled that transition.

 

Take RB Larry Johnson for example. Johnson had grown to become Chief fans-least-favorite player but, was within reach of the organization’s all-time rushing record when he made a public slur and it was the last straw that broke the camel’s back resulting in his being cut. I’m fairly certain that there aren’t fans out there lamenting LJ’s exit. However, the transition process for many other ex-Chiefs has not been as clear cut in terms of the public’s perception.

 

How about Joe Horn? Some of you may be saying, “Joe who?” The Chiefs drafted the 6-foot-1 inch 209-pound wideout in 1996 and he played in K.C. for 4 seasons averaging 220 yards receiving per year during that time. However, he then went to New Orleans where he averaged 1,089 yards per year for seven (7) years. Now, you don’t hear many fans — if any — crying foul because Mr. Horn went on to star for another team when the Chiefs could have certainly used that kind of sustained production. Marty Schottenheimer was the coach who drafted Horn and Gunter Cunningham (HC from 1999-2000) was the coach who decided Horn was expendable.

 

Many times when fans are upset over losing a star player they should be upset with the organization and not necessarily the player.

 

 

 

 

In the case of Jamaal Charles, he was willing to take less pay to stay with the Chiefs but JARD — John-Andy-Reid-Dorsey — decided not to offer him a contract at all. So, yes, we should be upset with the team, specifically Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Reid. That is unless their move was the right move in the timeline of JC’s career which in all likelihood is coming to an end. However, if JC is successful in Denver we should be even more upset… and… if JC is responsible for helping the Broncos beat the Chiefs this year then we should storm the castle gates and barbicans. I know I will be there with my pitchfork (a little too medieval?… yeah, I thought so too, oh well).

 

On the other hand… when Charles finally signed with his new team, the Denver Broncos, he said, “I’ve always been a Broncos fan” and “I’m looking forward to playing the Chiefs twice each year,” presumably to get some revenge.

 

Jamaal Charles also said, “I always wanted to play with Denver. Growing up, John Elway was my favorite player,” then JC went on, “I just like the environment, the team, and the organization. I wanted to be a part of it.

 

You may recall when CB Brandon Carr left the Chiefs in the spring of 2012 to sign with Dallas for 5 years and $50.1M. I was hearing a lot of Chiefs fans bemoaning Carr’s move, and yours truly was originally one of them. In the meantime, here in Dallas, Carr was interviewed on local stations ad nauseum expressing similar sentiments which JC is expressing now: as a kid, he always imagined playing for his new team. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that… you can’t fight a lifetime of another person’s hoping and dreaming. Home is in the heart… so he’s right where he should be. I just never would have thunk it. Do I wish him well? Sure… just not on the weeks he’s playing the Chiefs.

 

Neil Smith is a different case for me. I refuse to cheer for him. Maybe I’m wrong when it comes to Smith but, after being drafted in the first round in 1988 and playing for nine seasons in Kansas City, at a time when the Chiefs had finished first or second in the AFC West for 8 straight years (1990-1997) I, like many fans, thought they were always on the brink of breaking through and winning their first Super Bowl since January of 1970 (and back in the 1990’s, the Super Bowl was only 20 years earlier and still fresh on many Chiefs fan’s minds). The reality is that the Chiefs could not afford Neil Smith. They were stuck in a negotiating year with Derrick Thomas and still shopping for a QB — like Elvis Grbac, God forbid — so Smith was the odd man out.

 

In many respects, you can’t blame Neil Smith for going to a Super Bowl contender. Smith was as much an integral part of those two Broncos championship runs as RB Terrell Davis. Neil Smith is in the Chiefs Ring of Honor but, for some reason, I’ll never forgive him for signing with a Chiefs rival.

 

On the flip side, I love that RB Marcus Allen came to the Chiefs in 1993. I can understand if the Raiders fans felt the same way about Allen as I do about Smith… however, the Chiefs didn’t win a Super Bowl within the next two years like Smith did with the Broncos. Plus, Marcus Allen’s long-standing feud with Raiders owner Al Davis was legendary and at the same time, you can’t blame Davis for saying Bo Jackson was going to be their starting running back. A black hole catch-22 that worked out well for the Chiefs.

 

I’m still a big Marcus Allen fan but, he went into the NFL Hall of Fame as a Raider so there’s that “home is where the heart is” thingy rearing its head again. You can’t fight it. You just eventually come to the understanding about how everyone is that same way. Consequently, I don’t go into great jumpin-jehosifat-gyrations every time the free-agency season begins, because I really only want players to come to Kansas City who… really want to come to Kansas City.

 

So, in the end, in my mind, it’s all a game of homes. The question for any player is… “Where is home to you?”

 

Along those similar lines… after 19 years in the Dallas area, I am moving back to Kansas City in June. Hallelujah! Home, Home… Home at last!

 

 

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  • Heilios

    Spot on Ladner. I do wish JARD would have extended an offer of any kind to Charles but on the flip side you have to know when to let go. Of Charles were still here his presence alone would demand him taking snaps. This would take vital experience away from other backs including one of my new favorites Hunt. (I know Hunt hasn’t taken a single snap but I believe he can become something magical) In life there are windows and opportunities. JARD must have believed we would be in a better position to win with a new back. I’m inclined to trust their judgement.

  • Chiefly Bacon

    Sadly the trouble isn’t that Chiefs let Charles go, but that they extended him in the first place. With RBs, you gotta know when to cut and run.

    • Laurels and limitations

      yup, looking back JC25 should never have been re-signed last time either. Charles is a rare talent, but you have to know when to say when as a GM.

      • Laurels and limitations

        trying to think who it was over on AA that so vehemently cussed the extension…oh yeah, it was me!

  • tm1946

    I see it and think understand it. Being a pre-free agency kind of guy and somewhat older fan, it is easier to let go and move on. Now if we were talking about Dawson, Taylor, Lanier or Robinson… I might have more angst. But we are not. Owners have always been able to hide behind the scenes (except for a few – Jones, etc). They do what they want, when they want and the fans sit there and stew. Got to try to get over it or pick out a woman you hate and give her a new house…. can only take some much.

    Play some golf with Neil Smith one time, was never a favorite when with the Chiefs, nice guy. Will always like guys like Hali, Charles, Berry and others, if they move on – good for them. We ever get to the SB or heaven only knows, win one…. more favorites and they may leave town like a posse is on their tail… just the way it it.

  • Andy

    Will look forward to meeting you sir. When in June?

    • ladner morse

      Can’t be certain yet. House goes up for sale here next week and things are selling like hot cakes… so it might even be the first week of July.

      • berttheclock

        So, do you have Penske on speed dial? Pat has a close friend who just sold her house in St Augustine and moved to mid-central western Colorado. She made a mistake in not setting up a truck in time as she did not know when her house would close. Had to settle for a larger U-Haul, but, she had a good friend help her drive and they made it. Funny thing is she had all of her cold weather clothes locked up in the truck and she arrived in Paeonia, Colorado in a May snow storm.

        • ladner morse

          Thanks for the tip of seeing up a truck in advance. As soon as I know my moving date I will be sure to do that. Thank you Bert!

        • tm1946

          Good point – might need swimming suits and golf clubs in trunk of car….

      • Andy

        I’m coming home for a few weeks in Jun, my family is going to do the Arrowhead 5K. That’s a great time. Finish line is the 50 yard line. I got to kick a ball through the uprights last year. Truly memorable

  • berttheclock

    Sounds great for you and yours, Laddie, but, I hope you will be able to change the fortunes of winning at Arrowhead. Even though the Chiefs crowd noise broke Seattle’s record and, now, stands, alone, as far as a so-called home field winning advantage, the Chiefs do not even rank in the Top Nine in the NFL for winning over the past few years. Yes, they have improved winning the past two seasons, with six wins each year, but,their overall record is only 23 wins with 17 losses (One of those wins was actually in London).

    BTW, the Top Four are the Pats, Packers, Broncos and the Seahawks with Arizona, the Ravens and Steelers all tied with 29-11 regular season records and both New Orleans and Cincy following them. Not to forget the post season records of several of those teams.

    The year which really hurt the Chiefs was, of course, the one win, seven loss season for 2012. So you can say JARD did improve the record as they have gone 21 and ten with that other one win in London.

    But, to paraphrase the words of Judge Reinhold in a “Seinfield” episode, “But, we could have done so much better”.

    • ladner morse

      Wonder where he Chiefs would be ranked if Pioli had not come to town and messed things up for half a decade.

      • PaulfromnorthMO

        And don’t forget the fabulous coaching of Herm just prior to that.

        • Laurels and limitations

          ugh.

  • berttheclock

    As to losing quality players to other teams, whether in their prime or post prime, I learned many years ago while living in Los Angeles that the expression presented so often by Tommy Lasorda of the Dodgers of “Bleeding Dodgers’ Blue” only was one sided with the team management in charge of that false plea. There is only “Bleeding Red and Gold” and other types of team color bleeding that only is known by fans of the respective teams. With management, it always comes down to money.

    • ladner morse

      Good point… this “loyalty” for which we adore players when they stay… is not something we ever speak of when referring to owners. Owners are always making financial decisions and if they don’t… a new owner is always eating in the wings.

  • Frank Rodela

    A name that has not been mentioned on this site for a while has come back up in free agency talk. Gerald Hodges, former 9’ers MLB, visited the Bills earlier this week, left with no deal and met with the Giants, again leaving with no deal. Sounds like he is heading back to Buffalo today for a second meeting, which likely means that Hodges will no longer be a free agent, but rather a Bill for the 2017 season

    • berttheclock

      His agent is really holding out for the money. But, the new regime in Buffalo has a bit more of the Chiefs upper management philosophy now.

      • ladner morse

        Not sure what that means……

        • berttheclock

          The new GM has brought in people who have followed the ways of both Reid and Dorsey in the past. Hodges agent held firm in wanting more money from Dorsey and others, but, he, now, will have to realize this may be the player’s last chance this season to make any decent money. Had he been able to bring Hodges back to discuss a new deal, I believe Dorsey would have been able to sign him for less than he offered him at first. The new GM in Buffalo sees what Dorsey saw in him and, now, will be in a much better position to deal for less money.

  • berttheclock

    Interesting move by the Bills in signing Hodges to a one year deal. Although, he played inside LB in a 3-4 for the Niners, he will be playing outside on a 4-3 for the Bills. He did play safety in college and can cover very well. To sign Hodges, the Bills released the former 6th round five ten CB, Charles Gaines pick of the Browns. He played for them for one year, then, was cut and signed to a reserve future deal with the Bills. So, another young CB is looking for a new home.

    No word yet on Hodges new contract.

  • Laurels and limitations

    Oakland had 23 points versus Kc last season, and now they are suddenly going to just stomp KC? but, but, but…Marshawn “I’ve been eatin’ skittles for 2 years” Lynch will save the Raiders day. No he won’t KC shut Lynch down last time they played, you know, when Lynch was like 30 years younger.

    Are the @Chiefs good enough to repeat as AFC West champions?(via @wyche89) pic.twitter.com/OFU3NZuFHb— NFL (@NFL) May 25, 2017

    • PaulfromnorthMO

      It will be interesting to see if Lynch quits when it dawns on him that the west division in the AFC is a whole lot tougher than the one in the NFC.

      • Laurels and limitations

        He has to know that two years out of the league does the football body zero good. KC shut him down last time with their backups, yes Oakland has a better o-line than Seattle did at that time but Kc has added to their arsenal also. My money is on KC.

    • drwillez37

      Like with us alot of the Raiders wins coulda easily been loses. But we won those games the other teams lost them to Oakland.

      • Laurels and limitations

        I don’t buy too much into the “KC don’t get no respect” meme because it just doesn’t matter. KC HAS been getting a lot more noise as of late and that is because they have been winning. The next step in getting even louder is to start winning playoff games. Until KC stops going one and done we’ll keep hearing the same jargon.

    • Roswell Incident

      I think we’ll still have the best divisional record, the question is the out of division games. I could see is coming in 2nd like we would have this year had Carr not been injured. I think a lot depends on the OL getting better as a unit and if Hunt can contribute.

      • Laurels and limitations

        the normal teams still bother outside of the AFCW, New England of course (they are positively STACKED this year), and Pittsburg. Pittsburgs’s time has to be coming to close soon though, huh? They have been a thorn in KC’s side for ever it seems. I hold no illusion as to NE falling off though until the TB/BB connection is severed.
        Oops, sorry. I agree about the AFC West. We keep hearing every year about how so-and-so is going to be the team in the West but it never happens. So, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Roswell Incident

      Guy talks about KC sweeping the NFC West last year and hitting it big with the CB Draft Pick Cooper. Hmm. I’m not sure if I trust his wealth of knowledge.

  • Laurels and limitations

    More ammunition for why Oakland won’t rule the AFCW this year.

    In case you're wondering, 4.6 yards per attempt is bad. https://t.co/VO1UddZiI6— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 26, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    and now this, simply for the fact that I wish sooooo bad I was 20 years younger and could do it myself.

    He hijacked the wave pic.twitter.com/toED68jjO2— Fascinating Videos (@FascinatingVids) May 24, 2017

    • Roswell Incident

      That’s bad ass.

      • Laurels and limitations

        thought so too, I wonder how any times he had to attempt that before he succeeded?

  • Laurels and limitations

    here’s a breakdown via Andy of the Qb situation…..he was actually pretty candid for once.
    http://www.kansascity.com/sports/nfl/kansas-city-chiefs/article152662839.html

  • drwillez37

    i just want you all to know that there was a MICAH sighting back at A.A.(old site)…lol!!!! I thought he died what a relief haha!!! I wouldn’t dare tell him where we all are.

  • Roswell Incident

    I actually think I am rooting for JC to have a good season. Of course, this is made easier as I think Den is a bit of a dumpster fire. And I was right with you with Neil. I bore a grudge on that one. It was harder because he was in his prime. I probably would have felt the same about Gonzo had he gone to the Raid…I can’t even bring myself to finish typing that sentence.

  • KCMikeG

    So when is Tony G going to retire as a Chief? You know like he promised.