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By Jesse Utz 

It has been a long time coming

Jess, shut up!


Last updated 1/22/2020 at 10:05am

Anyone that follows any sport at all knows how special it is when your team finally makes it to the championship game. It does not matter if it is in Little League sports, high school, college or professional, it is a cherished moment when your team colors take the field in the biggest moment of their career. That happened to me this past weekend. I had waited 46 years for this moment, and it was surreal.

I cannot pinpoint the time I first became a Kansas City Chiefs fan, but I do know I have rooted for that NFL team and none other. Yes, there were times when I supported other teams but only when the Chiefs were on a bye, not playing, or when I rooted for players during my Fantasy Football phase. But I always tried to have a Chief on every one of my teams. But as I sat there and watched my beloved red and gold defeat the Titans and set their sights on the Superbowl, some flickering memories snapped into focus.

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Many times over the years, KC had a great team, only to be deflated by the Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos or the New England Patriots. It was hard to watch. It seemed that these teams always had that magic during those years, and we fell just short. Sure, there were times when I wanted to dump them and join a band wagon, but I could never quite do it. I always returned to the team that played in Arrowhead. It became even harder as my favorite players retired, got traded, lost to free agency or even in one case died tragically. But all that makes this moment all the sweeter.

I have three Chiefs jerseys hanging in my closet. One is Neil Smith. He may be remembered more as a Bronco, but when I met him at the Kingdome once long ago, he left an impression on me. He played defensive end and wreaked havoc, but I remember how kind he was and genuinely wanted to chat with the fans. He was a regular guy that excelled at a sport. My second Jersey is #58, Derrick Thomas, in my opinion, the best outside linebacker of all time. I watched the game where he sacked Dave Krieg a record seven times in one game in 1990. But my world was rocked in 2000. D.T. was in a car wreck and broke his back. A few weeks later he died. I was crushed. The third jersey is #88 Tony Gonzalez, arguably the best tight end ever. I also met him once at a game. I loved the excitement he brought to our offense week after week. When he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, I almost followed him. But I could not.

There are other Chiefs over the years I will be thinking offon Feb. 2: Marcus Allen, Deron Cherry, Carlos Carson, Christian Okoye, Priest Holmes, Steve DeBerg, Derrick Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Eric Berry, Albert Lewis, Tamba Hali, Alex Smith, and many more whom I rooted for time and time again, but we never saw them make it to the big dance in the colors of Kansas City. But when I and other Chiefs fans around the nation gather around our televisions, they will all be with us. Cheering with us. Crying with us. Joyous with us. I do hope we win. That would be the Deron Cherry on top. But honestly, I am just happy to see us here at this moment.

I could not write a column on the Kansas City Chiefs and this memorable season without mentioning a fellow Chiefs fan whom we lost this year. For the longest time there were only two local Chiefs fans that I knew of: me and Jerry Heilman. We would talk KC every time we ran into each other. He may have been a bigger fan than I was. He was able to convert most of his family. Alas, I could not. But I have to believe that Jerry had something to do with our season this year. After waiting so long to see our beloved Chiefs in the Superbowl, it says something that less than a year after Jerry’s passing the Chiefs appear in the big game. Thanks for the help, Jerry. I will be thinking of you a lot during the game.

There is only one thing left to say. GO CHIEFS!


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