Derrick Johnson to Chiefs fans: “Arrowhead’s always rocking...don’t change a thing”
An open letter to Emory University Professor Michael Lewis:
We Chiefs devotees may be many things. We are a sea of red. We are louder than a jet engine. We are even cursed, some claim, when it comes to the NFL playoffs.
But there is one thing we are unequivocally not: the second-worst fan base in the NFL.
I’d like to offer you and a guest a ticket to a game at Arrowhead Stadium this season, since your recently published study ranking NFL team fan bases demonstrates you have never joined us there before. Show me one of the so-called worst fan bases in the NFL, and I’ll show you something no study could ever quantify, no matter how precise the criteria.
Take a ride with me out to Arrowhead at 4:30 a.m. on a crisp 5-degree morning and watch as our fans wait in line to enter the stadium. Just a short time later, you’ll wonder which is heavier: the smoke from the grill or the fog of breath from Chiefs fans huddled together, trading Super Bowl dreams with one another.
Show me a fan base that has poor road presence, and I’ll show you footage from an away game just last season when the tomahawk chop was so loud that it drowned out any sound from the home team’s fans. There were a few moments where I almost — almost — thought I had missed a home game when I watched it on television.
I knew better though, because I don’t do that. We don’t do that.
Show me a group of fans who you don’t believe are loyal, and I’ll show you families like mine that renewed our season tickets after a disappointing (no, crushing, really) 4-12 season — despite countless reasons, not the least of which were financial, that we could have opted out.
This is the Show-Me State, after all. So show me the No. 31 fan base in the NFL, and I will show you the reigning champions of the world record for loudest crowd roar, at a nearly eardrum-shattering 142.2 decibels.
And then there are the intangibles, those things that could never truly be measured. I struggle to put them into words, but I will give it my best shot.
It’s the way this team creates entire family traditions. Can you imagine telling my late father, who helped us reclaim the loudness record months after his lung cancer diagnosis, that he was one of the worst fans in the NFL? Did your study factor in the seemingly little things, such as lawyers scheduling court dates carefully in the fall in order to avoid the unthinkable: missing a Sunday at Arrowhead? (Yes, I’ll admit to that one.)
Who else could have made the “legendary” John Elway throw what could only be described as a hissy fit to the referees about how loud the fans were on Dec. 9, 1990? I remember it vividly. I could hear and feel the roar of the crowd while sitting on our living room floor watching it all on TV, a little girl falling madly in love with Chiefs football.
So, Professor Lewis, my invitation stands: I cannot wait to have you join me and the rest of the crew at Arrowhead for a game. I can promise it’s an experience you will never forget. And one thing I’m certain of is, that by the end of fourth quarter, you will have joined me as one of the worst fans in the National Football League.
Megan Stumph-Turner is a Kansas City attorney and a former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader.