Part of the fun of sports is having a team to collectively hate, a heel. A team everybody else can be against together.
Congratulations, Chiefs fans, that’s you guys now.
One way or another tonight, the Chiefs have become the team the rest of the league hates, something we haven’t really had the past few years since Tom Brady left the Patriots.
This is written somewhat as a response to Trevor Hahn’s column last week, but I know he’s on generally the same page I am.
He doesn’t like the false narratives trying to tear down what the Chiefs have built, and that makes sense. But when you win as much as the Chiefs have since Patrick Mahomes took over, that’s kind of all anyone else has. Nobody likes to talk about how one team kicks their team’s butt every time they play. Nobody wants to accept that one team is just significantly better than most of the league on a consistent basis.
So narratives start to form.
The Chiefs getting help from the refs being the main one this year.
Trevor laid out how that’s statistically untrue, but I promise you no one who isn’t a Chiefs fan cares what the stats say about the calls this season. They want a reason the Chiefs are going to their fourth Super Bowl in five years that doesn’t challenge their belief that their team could have gone all the way this year.
So congrats Chiefs fans, you guys get to play the role of the heel, one of the most fun things you can be.
Another team’s fan accusing the Chiefs of getting help from the refs? Tell them they’re searching for excuses for why the Chiefs beat them every year.
Hearing more and more complaints about how the NFL has pushed Travis Kelce’s relationship with Taylor Swift? Tell them it must be rough to have to watch the Chiefs win in prime time every week.
Many would argue this game is the determining factor in whether the Chiefs are actually considered a dynasty, that you need three rings to be considered as such. I don’t agree, I think a run of dominance and controlling the AFC Championship Game for years is good enough with two rings, though as you’ll hopefully read in my picks, I do think the Chiefs will win today.
And if they do, the NFL gets to really dig in on its newest villain.
“I know the Patriots had that for a while, I’m hoping we do it in a different way with a little bit more fun and personality with it,” Mahomes said during media time this week. “But as long as you keep winning, teams start to not like you and I want to keep winning. So if that means some of the other teams and other fan bases aren’t going to like me, I’ll try to still have a smile on my face and not be a bad example. But I can be that villain for them if they need me to be.”
Well Patrick, you already are for a lot of other teams and I promise the smile will only make them feel worse.
Having a team beat you consistently is one thing. Having them do it while smiling, laughing and dancing because of how much fun they’re having and how easy they make it look is another.
And as he, Kelce and other members of the Chiefs continue to be promoted as faces of the league whether through game time slots or commercials or whatever other way the NFL finds to put its most consistent team in front of other fans faces, they’re only going to hate you more and more.
And that’s OK, it’s great actually.
Narratives, true or false, will rise and fall about why the Chiefs keep getting back to the AFC Championship Game, the literal floor of a season since Mahomes took over. Why Kansas City can keep winning even after trading one of the top receivers in the league and working with a corps more known for dropping perfectly-placed passes than making big plays.
Why it just keeps working when every other team has to deal with one problem or another keeping them from their ultimate goal.
Win or lose, the Chiefs have cemented their spot as the current villain of the NFL and as fans, I think you should embrace it.
But I do hope they win, not only because I’m a Seahawks fan and therefor cannot root for the 49ers, but because I love a heel narrative and winning more only makes it sweeter.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday.