Perhaps too much time has passed for there to be any kind of relationship more. Perhaps, in the eyes of the people who live and die with the Jets, the Chiefs are just another soccer team that is currently located in a place that Jets fans crave so much – the abyss of a Super Bowl trip.
But the Chiefs' journey was remarkably similar to that of the Jets. Fifty years ago this month, the Chiefs were the Vikings' 13-point outsiders in Super Bowl IV. The Chiefs were an AFL power at a time when the AFL was still considered by many to be Quadruple-A-Pro.
Yes, the Jets had stunned the Colts and the world a year earlier, but in so many soccer circles that was still a coincidence – the highest evolution of the "certain Sunday" ethos. The Super Bowl IV, held in cool New Orleans, was the last game ever played by an AFL team.
The chiefs had a commemorative patch on one shoulder and chips on both.
"So the week before the game, so many of us got messages from other AFL players," quarterback Len Dawson once told me. “It was important for them that we win the game because that would mean forever that the Super Bowls score is NFL 2, AFL 2. In a way, I always thought we had a little bit more pressure on ourselves than the Jets did because they had proven that it was doable. It was not an impossible dream. "
If possible, the chiefs dominated the Vikings even more than the Jets the Colts. The score was 23-7. The chiefs in their bright red jerseys blew the Vikings for three hours, smacked Joe Kapp and hunted the defense of the Purple People Eaters. Hank Stram, Kansas City coach, was equipped with a microphone for the game (for a $ 500 fee), and his observations on that day, which were frozen forever on NFL Films, immediately became part of popular sports culture:
"Let's matriculate the ball down the field!"
"You marked it well, you marked it well!"
"Sixty-five Toss Power Trap!"
Like the 1968 jets, the chiefs were approaching the end of a powerful reign. Two seasons after the Super Bowl victory, they played an epic overtime game with the dolphins on Christmas Day 1971. The dolphins finally prevailed.
"And it was as if something had died," said Dawson.
On Sunday, the chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium will try again to complete the bridge that connects this wonderful time with the present. It was an arduous process. The Chiefs reflected the futility of the jets for much of the 1970s and 1980s, but became one of the AFC's constant powers under Marty Schottenheimer. They went 13-3 under Schottenheimer twice and gained a home advantage. They lost their first game twice.
They did the same in 2003 under Dick Vermeil and wasted another 13: 3 season. Andy Reid led her to No. 1 again last year. The patriots broke their hearts in the AFC championship in extra time.
"All you ask is to have a chance to play in a game like this," said Patrick Mahomes, quarterback to the chief, earlier this week. “We had this chance last year and it still hurts to think about how it ended. Now we have another chance. It is up to us to seize this opportunity. "
Mahomes is too good a quarterback to miss the Super Bowl chance forever. On the other hand, Reid is probably too good a coach to have only one trip on his resume – a failed field trip with the 2004 Eagles team that ended in 13-3. He has a remarkable 207-128-1 career record. His teams took first place ten times. And yet he's 1-5 in conference championship games.
He's also been one to eight years against the titans that stand in the way of the team on Sunday afternoon – a statistical oddity that will still be a big elephant in the stadium, because at this time of year there seems to be a whole lot. to remind Reid of his chronic playoff errors.
"I think more of the players than myself," said Reid this week. "Now I'm going there. I'm trying to get the boys ready. I'll make sure I'm done. Then I'll go play." It is rather a disappointment for the other teams, they took the time and were neglected. "
If this Chiefs team misses out, on the golden anniversary of one Chiefs team climbing the ultimate mountain of football, it is impossible to estimate how long the local depression can last. It's better to see it like this: it's time. For a team. For a city. For a trainer.
You can find more information about the NFL playoffs in the latest episode of the podcast "Gang’s All Here":