Shawnee Mission South and Kansas grad Rob Riggle was the featured guest and final speaker at the Kansas City Sports Commission’s annual awards banquet on Wednesday night.
And the actor/comedian embraced his role as the everyman of Kansas City sports fans with an all-encompassing celebration of the changing local sports landscape … with a few humorous jabs, naturally.
With the help of The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff, below are excerpted highlights of a riff to remember:
On Kansas City’s sports revival:
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“I’m Rob Riggle, and I’m a Kansas City sports fan. It feels good. It feels wonderful to say that without any sadness or humility or delusion in my voice. It used to be said, ‘I’m a Kansas City sports fan,’ in the same defeated way you would admit being a sex addict or admit pooping in your pants. …
“I’m so happy the KC Sports Commission asked me to do this. I’m told this is the 42nd year that this organization has existed. I’m just a little curious, though, what did you guys talk about for most of those years? George Brett’s lush head of hair? His great tan? Which he probably didn’t get in Kansas City. The proper spelling of Grbac? I don’t know, what did you talk about?”
“It doesn’t matter, never mind, let the past be the past. We are a sports city reborn. We are like an up-and-coming butterfly emerging from a very painful cocoon. Or an alien bursting through some guy’s chest. We’re Bruce Jenner, basically. Our sports teams are Bruce Jenner. There, I said it. …
On a former Chiefs quarterback:
“Everybody says they want their kids to grow up better than they did and I agree with that, I’ve got two kids, and I’m so excited to raise them in a world where they’ll never know who Brodie Croyle is. I can tell some of you don’t remember who Brodie Croyle is. I envy you. I really do.
“Is Brodie here tonight, by any chance?
“If so, I’m totally joking, bro.
“He’s not here? Screw him.
“He’s here, for real?
“You wouldn’t know what he looks like. Nobody knows what he looks like. …
“Seriously, though, my kids are KC sports fans and damn proud of it. Look at everything we’ve got going on here in the greatest city in the country — in the greatest city in the world as far as I’m concerned. The Chiefs are on the rise. The 7-0 Royals are the reigning American League champs. And we don’t have a professional basketball team, which makes us the envy of every Knicks fan in the country.
“Oh, and I almost forgot. Give it up for our soccer team. Hell-o. (Cheers)
“Apparently, a season ago, they won whatever soccer teams win. …
“Yessir, Sporting KC. That name sounds like a hunting club. But ironically it’s the name of a sports team that no one who hunts would ever watch.
“What went on in that meeting when they were deciding on that name? ‘Uhh, should we mention that team plays soccer? No. No. Just say they’re sporting, yeah. See if anybody falls for it. By the time they realize it’s soccer it will be too late.’
“But you know what? Our team did win, and they won the MLS Cup in 2013 and it was amazing. (Cheers)
“That’s right. The MLS Cup — an event watched around the country by literally hundreds of people.”
On Wednesday’s award winners:
Riggle went on to recognize award winners, including Mizzou defensive end Shane Ray: “He’s from Mizzou, and I’m choosing to ignore that. … Give it up for Shane Ray.”
He also noted Royals general manager Dayton Moore, executive of the year and “the maker of miracles” before getting back into gear.
“And just as remarkably, all of tonight’s winners caught just as many touchdown passes as any receiver for the Chiefs. Congratulations, guys. That’s incredible. Most of you don’t even play football. How ‘bout that no-touchdown-by-receivers thing? Geez, I once ran naked through a Taco Bell. That streak made more sense.
“I’m pretty sure Andy Reid signed Jeremy Maclin because he’s the last receiver Andy saw crossing a goal line. In fact, Maclin played for Mizzou, so he’s caught touchdown passes at Arrowhead before. Maybe he can describe it to his teammates.
“But you know what, even that streak that should be embarrassing, it’s not. We’re all still upbeat here in Kansas City because the Chiefs still — still! — had a winning record last season. So instead of that fun fact being embarrassing it’s just, I don’t know, kind of fascinating …”
On the Patriots and Deflate-gate:
“Come on, what a bunch of nonsense … I knew the whole thing was going nowhere, and I know what I’m talking about: I’ve watched KU in the tournament the last two years.
“I kid! Come on! I’m a Jayhawk and proud of it. Come on now! Eleven — eleven — Big 12 titles in a row. So don’t get cocky, Mizzou. First you’ve got to make the tournament, then we’ll talk.
“People think I’m going to stand up here and rip on Mizzou. I’m not. I don’t have a problem with Mizzou, OK? Nebraska (stinks). I mean, how does the founding member of one of the biggest athletic conferences in the country just quit, just walk out in the middle of the night like some Benedict Arnold?
“I mean … oh, hello, Mizzou. I guess we’re not done, are we?
On KC’s sports nemeses:
“The Colts have become my sworn enemies, right after ISIS and Kanye West. The stupid Colts. I’m still not over what Andrew Luck did to us the last time we were in the playoffs. I can’t stand that Stanford hillbilly. … His face (when bearded) answers the question what would happen if Michael Phelps got bitten by a werewolf. Andrew Luck might not have won rookie of the year but I’m told he’s still eligible for wookie of the year … No, you didn’t, no, you didn’t — yeah, I did.” …
“Is it true that we’re losing a home game to go play in London next season? Really, is that happening? I mean, I’m going to watch, of course. But football is an American game. Am I right on this? Yes? OK, good. Chiefs football is as American as mowing the lawn drunk. It’s as American as jazz, both smooth and Utah. It’s as American as a hot-dog eating contest with a Japanese champion.”
Noting the Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium had set the world record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium, Riggle said, “We’ve always been loud, alright? But now it’s mostly cheering! In the past we were also yelling things like, ‘how dare you?’ and ‘why are you doing this to me?’ Good times!”
That led Riggle to other fan bases and teams, including the Raiders.
“Honestly, I couldn’t imagine hating anyone or anything as much as the Raiders. And then Madison Bumgarner came into my life. If the Raiders are Kanye, Bumgarner is Kim. It’s impossible to decide who to hate more, and they’re both in the Bay Area. What sort of Rice-a-Roni hellscape must that place be?”
He wrapped up by turning to the Royals and their first playoff appearance in 29 years.
“Let me that in perspective, 29 years: Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet. Justin Bieber was just an accident waiting to happen … And the most beloved figure on television was Bill Cosby. So the times have changed … God bless our Royals. …
“Impossible is a word often used by small-minded people. I want you to know that NOTHING is impossible in this life with the right amount of courage and faith. Fear never accomplished anything in this world. Courage and faith are what make everything happen.
“So let’s have the courage and faith to believe that we are a city that deserves championships.
“I’m not afraid of New York or New England, Boston, San Francisco. Screw ’em. Bring it on. I want a piece. You want a part of Kansas City? You’re going to lose.
“Sports are best when teams and players aren’t just victorious, but they’re inspiring. And that’s what tonight’s winners are, and that’s what the Royals were for this town this past season. … I tell young men all the time, ‘You want to prove that you have heart; you want to make people proud to know you?’
“Be like the Kansas City Royals.”