Sunday’s season opener at Arrowhead Stadium features a football game between the Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers. That much we’ve known for months.
But we learned a whole lot more on Wednesday about the festivities that will surround this showdown between AFC West rivals, and that aspect of the afternoon promises to be pretty exciting in its own right.
Coming on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, events surrounding the game will include nods of appreciation to the military and first responders, plus recognition of the two Kansas City, Kan., policemen killed in the line of duty this year.
And that’s just the beginning.
Let’s take it from the top.
▪ National Anthem: Country star Trace Adkins has the honor. A Louisiana native with three No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts to his name since debuting in 1995, Adkins also appeared during the Chiefs’ 50th anniversary campaign in 2009.
▪ Drum honoree: None other than former Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen. This fan favorite during his four years in Kansas City retired after spending last season with the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. Allen, who is sure to fire up the pre-game crowd on Sunday, had 230 tackles, 43 sacks and 13 forced fumbles while wearing No. 69 as a Chief.
▪ Hesston hero: Doug Schroeder, chief of police in Hesston, Kan., will carry an American flag and lead the Chiefs out of the tunnel before the game. Schroeder, you might recall, confronted and stopped a mass shooter during a killing spree at a manufacturing plant in February. During the game, he’ll be honored as the game’s “Hometown Hero.”
▪ First pass, coin toss: Like the first pitch at a Royals game, only it’s a football. Doing the throwing will be KC Fire Department EMT Neal Wilson. Then, six members of the fire deparment will participate in the pre-game coin toss before a video message from President Obama and moment of silence honor the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
▪ The Big Flag: Some 150 first responders will hold a field-sized American flag during Adkins’ rendition of the National Anthem. A 10-person joint-forces color guard from the KC Police and Fire departments will present the colors.
▪ Stealth bomber: Keep your eye on the skies as the anthem winds down, as a B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster will conduct a flyover, weather permitting.
▪ KCK’s fallen: The families of Detective Brad Lancaster and Captain Robert Melton of the KCK Police Department will be honored on the field during the first quarter of the game. Both men were slain in the line of duty.
▪ Halftime hoopla: Retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer Generald Wilson will perform “God Bless America” at intermission. After that, the “Leap Frogs,” the U.S. Navy’s parachute team, will glide into the stadium.
▪ Second half: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Shannon of Whiteman Air Force Base will be recognized as the game’s “Salute to Service” honoree. This Atchison, Kan., native is the Wing Chaplain for the 509th Bomb Wing and was deployed three times from 2004 to 2015.
▪ Fourth quarter: Retired Independence Police Chief Tom Dailey will be recognized as the “Tony DiPardo Spirit Leader.” Dailey’s list of credentials is long and impressive, including a 27-year run with KCPD as well as stints on the executive committee of the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Center, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Mid-America Regional Council’s Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee.
That’s a lot to remember, but here’s one more thing: The Chiefs will hold a “Red Friday” kickoff party in the Power and Light District on Friday. Admission is free and select Chiefs and Chiefs cheerleaders, as well as the Chiefs Rumble musical ensemble and KC Wolf, will attend. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the party starts at 6:45 p.m.
As in years past, this season’s Red Friday leadup has included sales of newspapers, magazines and Chiefs Kingdom flags, with proceeds earmarked for local charities.
“Red Friday is a special day for the Chiefs Kingdom every year,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “And this year, we are proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the great tradition started by my father, Lamar.”