(Almost) Worth The Wait

I really like the location of our seats at Folsom Field.

Section 218, row 72, seats 18-19.

I’ve had season tickets at the same location for over a quarter of a century. With my “priority points”, I’m sure I could switch my seats during the off-season to almost any available location.

But I like where we’re at … The 50-yard line, with a full view of the Flatirons and Longs Peak. Looking straight across to the 5th level of the press box, giving us the mirror view of the game as seen by the television broadcasters. It’s like watching the game from home … just with 50,000 of my closest friends there with me to enjoy the experience.

That being said, for most of the past few decades, the ten rows behind us in Section 218 have been empty. No season ticket holders behind us; more often than not very few fans behind us.

Which was why a couple of time this season I took the time to turn around during a game and gawk at the ten rows behind our location, with all of those seats filled with CU fans. Under Coach Prime, the Buffs in 2023 sold out every game – for the first time in school history.

It was an impressive and gratifying sight to behold.

All those CU fans around us. It was amazing to see Folsom filled with black-and-gold clad fans. Often times last season it was so loud after a CU score that  we couldn’t hear the CU band playing the fight song.

Loved it.

And yet … I have to admit … there were also a few times last season when I wanted to turn around and yell out to all of the new season ticket holders:

“Where the Hell have you been??”

Not that I begrudge the new fans their right to cheer for “their” team, but it just seemed to me that those of us who have lived through the tough times … the depressing times … somehow deserved more. We were more entitled to bask in the success of the team early on last season. We were more worthy of all of the national attention showered on the Buffs … the national rankings … the dominating second half over the hated Cornhuskers … the comeback overtime win over Colorado State.

Those experiences were ours to savor, not the newbies.

I know you know what I’m talking about. Your reading an article about Colorado football in February. You’re one of us. You’re one of the Buff faithful who deserves a little bit extra, a little bit more enjoyment from any new success the Buffs achieve.

Which is all a long way of me getting to …

I am a lifelong fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I understand that doesn’t endear me to some Buff fans, who see cheering for the Denver Broncos and the CU Buffs as a package deal.

But I have been with the Chiefs since I was a child. I am not a “Swiftie”, following my favorite icon into the Chiefs Kingdom. Nor am I a Patrick-come-lately fan, who only found my inner Chief when Patrick Mahomes started playing at Arrowhead.

My fandom began way back, when a young athlete came to Montana from Norway – by way of a skiing scholarship. Jan Stenerud knew little to nothing about American football when he came to the United States to ski for Montana State in the early 1960s. He knew how to kick soccer-style, however, and his skiing career was soon supplanted by a career as a field goal kicker.

When Stenerud was taken in the AFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, many of us in Bozeman became Kansas City fans. It wasn’t as if the Denver Broncos (39-97-4 in the 1960s) were a draw, and the Seattle Seahawks didn’t yet exist. So, in Bozeman, you were either a fan of one of the NFC Central “Black-and-Blue” division teams of the upper Midwest … or you were a Chiefs fan.

I chose the Chiefs, and was quickly rewarded for my loyalty with two Super Bowl appearances, capped by a 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV (Stenerud had a 48-yard field goal in the game, a Super Bowl record which stood for 23 years).

After the initial rush of success by the Chiefs in the early years of the Super Bowl, however, Kansas City and its fans spent the next 50 years wandering the desert of mediocrity.

Five full decades without an appearance in the Super Bowl. Kansas City had some decent teams during that span, but, for the most part, the Chiefs were an afterthought in the annual race to the playoffs.

And yet, I soldiered on, my loyalty never wavering, even as I endured the first years of the Elway era in Denver while attending CU. Brad Geiger, my best friend for over 40 years (and a regular on the CU at the Game podcast), was my roommate for several years during our tenure in Boulder. Brad was (and is), a big Bronco fan. When the Chiefs and Broncos played each other, it became clear early on in our relationship that we couldn’t watch those AFC West battles while in the same room. We could talk football before the game, and then again after the game (after a cooling down period of a few hours), but we could not be around one another during games. In order to keep the peace, we developed a simple system: When the Broncos played the Chiefs at Arrowhead, I got to watch the game at the apartment – Brad had to watch the game elsewhere. Then, when Kansas City came to Denver, I had to vacate the premises on Sunday afternoon.

It was tough being a Chiefs fan living in the middle of Bronco mania during the 80’s, but that’s what loyal fans do for their team (thankfully, John Elway was kind enough to lose the Super Bowls Denver played in while I was in the state, waiting until I was safely back in Montana before winning his first).

Fifty years waiting for my team to get back to the Super Bowl … 50 freakin’ years!

So now, with Kansas City not only back in the fray, but hearing words like “dynasty” thrown around, I am trying my best to enjoy the current ride.

And, as strange as it may sound, it’s hard to do.

That’s because we are somehow hard-wired spend more time dwelling on losses than we do celebrating our wins.

When our teams lose, we suffer. We replay the results for hours … days … weeks … years.

Yet, when our teams win, we are already looking towards the next challenge. The red-and-gold confetti hadn’t even made it to the grass on Allegiant Stadium Sunday night after Kansas City defeated San Francisco in overtime to win the Super Bowl before the talk began about a possible three-peat.

Why are we like that?

Loss Aversion is a cornerstone of the “Prospect Theory”, which landed Daniel Kahneman a Nobel Prize in Economics. This tells us that humans are more keenly aware of losses than gains.

This plays out in the stock market, with investors more likely to focus on losses than gains.

It plays out in the world of gambling.

And it certainly plays out in the world of sports.

Thinking about CU’s 2023 season, I have spent way too much time reliving the frustration of the Buffs blowing the lead against Stanford than I have relishing the Buffs taking on the TCU Horned Frogs on the road in the season opener, and emerging with an unexpected win.

So, I am doing my best right now to savor the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory. I have already rewatched the game. I am reading every article I can find, and listening to podcasts about the game. I have ordered a Super Bowl hat and shirt, and have preordered a book about Kansas City’s season.

After living the life of losing for 50 long seasons, the Chiefs have now appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls, winning three. For the faithful, it is a long-awaited ride in the spotlight.

I’m not sure it has been worth that long of a wait, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy the moment.

And then I’m going back to watch the second half of last season’s Nebraska game …

Some photos from Section 218 taken over the years … 



5 Replies to “(Almost) Worth The Wait”

  1. Stuart, all I can say regarding your love of the chefs, nobody’s perfect. How can you wear red, even if it is chefs red? Nevertheless, thanks for your labor or love for the Buffs and CUattheGame.

    1. You gotta love watching Mahomes play. Brady was a bot but Mahomes is all over the place and usually with results. If the DLinemen of the NFL had to vote for the most frustrating QB he would be it. Purdy is somewhat of a bot too. You could make a living betting on the Chiefs while Mahomes is there.
      The thing that stood out for me in the superbowl was the play of the DBs on both teams. Even Mahomes was having trouble finding open WRs.

  2. Stuart loved the essay, a few thoughts that came to mind while reading:

    “…many of us in Bozeman became Kansas City fans. It wasn’t as if the Denver Broncos (39-97-4 in the 1960s) were a draw, and the Seattle Seahawks didn’t yet exist. So, in Bozeman, you were either a fan of one of the NFC Central “Black-and-Blue” division teams of the upper Midwest … or you were a Chiefs fan.”

    Before the Seahawks, the PNW and ALL the states around it were an island without a pro team, this is why college football can be so big in certain regions around the country. I’ve traveled a bit and small town USA can really embrace their local teams when no pro options are available; North Dakota State and Montana State University are two places that come to mind. Drive into those towns near the stadiums right before or during the season and see what I mean.

    On a larger scale you get Bama & the corn.

    “Five full decades without an appearance in the Super Bowl. Kansas City had some decent teams during that span, but, for the most part, the Chiefs were an afterthought in the annual race to the playoffs.”

    The NFL dynasty teams were the same for too many years and that’s why it became stagnant, the parity from salary caps and the new last place/first draft rules changed all that and gave 10 cities hope during the last few games of the season. One could argue that KC’s accomplishment during this time of more parity is a bigger accomplishment than for the dynasty teams during the previous few decades.

    Have fun Stuart.

    Let’s hope the Buffs are back on that train to relevancy and can be one of the programs to make it back to the ranked again.

    1. Brings to mind the first time I went to a Bronco game. dont even remember exactly the year. Late sixties anyway. Steve Tensi was stinkin it up and 40,000 people were chanting in unison “We want Briscoe, We want Briscoe”. And whoever the coach was at that time (LouSaban?) put him in. Briscoe was one of the early dual threat QBs and the game did get more exciting but the Broncos still lost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *