From Arrowhead Stadium
Remember back in the days before the NFL owners’ lockout when Commissioner Roger Goodell was campaigning for only two pre-season games each year. His reasoning was the fans don’t like the games that don’t count.
The perfect piece of evidence to back the Commish’s thought went down Friday at a deserted Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs said they sold 67,537 tickets for the game against Tampa Bay. If that’s true, very few of those seat holders bothered to even make the drive to the Truman Sports Complex. Think more along the lines of 30,000 to 35,000 butts in the seats. If they stayed home to watch on TV, I guarantee they found something else to entertain them at about 7:30, or 20 minutes after it all got started.
The fans didn’t care and the Chiefs didn’t care. It seemed only the Buccaneers found anything redeeming in taking part in the evening. Maybe that was due to Josh Freeman’s homecoming to Kansas City. Maybe it was because the Bucs won 10 games last year and did not make the playoffs. Whatever the reason, Tampa Bay won easily 25-0, even though the tape of the game will not be on the way to Canton, Ohio anytime soon.
The way things went down, it probably would have been better for the Chiefs if they had just stayed up at Missouri Western in the Joe and had a walkthrough and a padded practice among themselves. I’m sure as Todd Haley and his staff grinds its way through the tape of this Walk of the Living Dead remake on Saturday, they will find something of value. It just wasn’t evident on Friday night.
And to think, some poor sap paid as much as $285 per ticket in the club level for an evening that turned out to be one of the crappiest games that’s been staged at Arrowhead over the last 40 seasons. Those fans should immediately sue the NFL and the Chiefs for bait and switch, false advertising or whatever a building full of lawyers can find in the law books for calling something professional football and then presenting what was on display this evening.
Believe me, if a grand jury was called and the evidence of the evening was presented, there would be criminal charges filed for impersonating a football team and a football game.
In the pre-game warm-up session, the Chiefs had all 88 of their players dressed and stretching and running and getting ready for the game. But for many in that group of 88, the calisthenics and stretching was the only sweat they would work up. Hali-Johnson-Flowers-Carr-Dorsey-Wiegmann-Moeaki-Charles-Breaston did not see the field. QB Matt Cassel handled the ball eight times. He fumbled once, and handed off the other seven times. One of those ended up being fumbled away by RB Jackie Battle.
I mean seriously, nobody was expecting much to begin with. No off-season because of the lockout, a short training camp with limited actual football taking place and a desire to physically protect players from injury was always going to make for limited excitement. That’s understood.
But in limited window to get ready for the 2011 regular season, the Chiefs failed to show any enthusiasm for the task at hand. Half of the operation was clocking in because they had to be there. The other half were trying not to miss an opportunity to continue their career in pro football for a few more days or weeks.
Last time I looked, the Kansas City Chiefs do not have last February’s Vince Lombardi Trophy in their possession. They are a worst to first operation that faces a much tougher schedule in the 2011 season. They have a roster with many talented young players and a roster that still has holes. At no point should any opportunity to improve be forsaken and that goes for any part of the roster.
It was forsaken Friday night. In the big picture, does it mean anything? Probably not; there’s time to make up for this stinker. But why waste everybody’s time?
Last month, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt showed his benevolent side by returning the money he took from his employees’ paychecks because of the lockout. If he wants an opportunity to really show his magnanimous side, he should return the money paid for every ticket to what happened Friday night.
It wasn’t a game. It wasn’t professional. It wasn’t even an event.
It was a waste of time.