We all knew this was going to happen. Sooner or later the Kansas City Chiefs would make one too many appearances on the NFL’s late January/early February playoff dance card, and that’s when football fans who don’t live within 400 miles of Arrowhead Stadium would scream they’ve had quite enough of Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Travis Kelce and, of course, Taylor Swift.
The Chiefs have played in six consecutive editions of the AFC Championship Game, including their 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens a couple of weeks ago. When they meet the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII Sunday night, it’ll be their fourth appearance in five years in pro football’s Big Game. As such, the Chiefs are closing in on the 21st-century New England Patriots, who won six Super Bowls and at one point made eight consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game.
And we all know how everyone feels about the New England Patriots.
Everyone hates the Patriots is how everyone feels. The Pats gave us Spygate. They gave us Deflategate. They gave us a coach, Bill Belichick, who for 24 seasons mumbled his way through news conferences and halftime interviews. They gave us a quarterback, Tom Brady, who was perceived as an entitled pretty boy who expected to get all the calls. That the Patriots delivered some of the most electrifying moments in Super Bowl history — the final drive against the St. Louis Rams after Brady opted not to take a knee, Malcolm Butler’s miracle interception against the Seattle Seahawks, the epic comeback from 28-3 against the Atlanta Falcons — is beside the point. Everyone hates the Patriots. It was in this spirit that so many people derived great joy in seeing Belichick fail to land another head coaching gig after “parting ways” with the Patriots last month.
If CNN analyst (and Boston native) John King were to go to the Magic Board and highlight the states whose fans would root for the Pats to win another Super Bowl, only Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island would light up. (And possibly Connecticut, except that many fans south of Hartford root for the Giants. The Jets, a Ralph Nader-like third-party candidate, would pull in about 4 percent of the Connecticut vote.)
Now it’s the Chiefs’ turn to be the team everyone hates … except it’s not true. Oh, we’ll likely see this or that poll revealing that lots of otherwise neutral fans will be rooting for the 49ers and therefore against the Chiefs, but let’s have a grown-up discussion about this. Does anybody really hate the Chiefs, or is this no more than a familiar, time-worn talking point that gets rolled out whenever a team emerges as football’s latest … wait for it, wait for it … dynasty?
There’s nothing wrong with familiar, time-worn talking points. Without them, we wouldn’t have sports talk radio, and without sports talk radio we wouldn’t have ads for erectile dysfunction, hair restoration and weight loss plans. But I’ll ask the question again: Does anybody really hate the Chiefs?