It’s Friday Five time. Let’s get started
▪ 1. ONE OF A KIND LOVE AFFAIR: As I’m finally catching up on emails regarding the Royals, I find myself thinking over and over about the uniqueness of the season and believing that it wouldn’t even be trumped by them winning the World Series in the next few years. Because the beauty of this season was not just that it was unexpected but that it completely defied logic, recent history and maybe even gravity.
The beauty of the season was that it restored faith, or at least the notion that it’s OK to hope, to not just Royals fans but an entire region that had been so accustomed to waiting for the trap door to trip open in its most visible and popular pro sports.
The beauty of the season was the unspoiled road not just less traveled but completely neglected for 29 years … and the fascinating ways players and fans navigated it together.
Now, there will be expectations, not just faint, vague beliefs that one day this can change.
Now, who’s to know if the player-fan relationship can be as colorful and sincere as the one that spontaneously emerged in the postseason?
Now, any further achievements will be treasured but can’t be the distinct trail-blazing phenomenon that 2014 was.
And all that being said … can’t wait to see what happens next season.
▪ 2. LONDON CALLING THE CHIEFS: Hearing chairman Clark Hunt explain it on Sunday in a side room at Ralph Wilson Stadium was a lot more palatable than the team's initial stance a few days before.
But there still seem to be some contradictions and disconnect in their decision to farm out a home game, as Hunt’s first words on Sunday suggested:
“There’s never a good time to take a home game away from Arrowhead. But for a lot of reasons I felt like this was the right time to do it if we were going to do it.”
Ultimately, though, this seemed semi-clear:
Hunt evidently believed it was less a choice than an inevitability as the NFL seeks to grow the game globally.
In part, the move was because the Chiefs will need this on their resume if they ever want to win a Super Bowl bid.
And in part, there seemed to be a suggestion that the international committee Hunt chairs is moving closer to provisions that mandate teams giving up home games to go.
“I felt that it was not a question of if we were going to end up playing a home game overseas, it was really a question of when,” said Hunt, who said he expects the Chiefs to be a road team in London in the next five or six years.
By working with the league’s request, he added, the Chiefs were able to get a game against a nonconference foe at a time of year they were glad to do it … and also have a bye week after.
▪ 3. MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: As he spoke, Hunt repeatedly used the term “obligation.”
Plenty of this still could be shaded in better, though.
It’s still hard to sort out exactly what wasn’t explained properly to begin with and what was damage control after the decision infuriated fans.
But one thing seems clear:
Hunt could have helped himself and the Chiefs a lot by being available to explain this the first day.
He apologized for that, noting the NFL had given short notice of the announcement.
But busy as he might have been, in an era where you can pretty much zap out a hologram of yourself, this may have played out in a less inflammatory way if Hunt himself had presented it from the start.
If nothing else, the message would have been streamlined and come from the most accountable voice.
A lot of fans still wouldn’t have liked it, and still don’t as it is.
But it would have made the Chiefs seem more plugged-in to, and concerned about, their constituents.
▪ 4. VIEW FROM THE BOOTH: Some preliminary observations on defending Super Bowl champion Seattle’s visit to Arrowhead on Sunday from Kenny Albert, who will broadcast the game for Fox:
“I think it’s a good test for both teams, because the Chiefs are playing pretty well … and the Seahawks are playing a little better than last time we saw them,” Albert said in a phone interview, referring to their 28-26 loss at St. Louis on Oct. 19. “Since then, they’ve won three in a row and kind of gotten back to what they do best, which is Marshawn Lynch running the football and Russell Wilson over 100 yards last week for the third time.”
▪ The Chiefs are second in the AFC in total defense and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. But they’re allowing a more mortal 115.6 yards a game rushing, and only one NFL team is allowing more yards a carry (the Giants, at 5.0) than the Chiefs (4.7).
That dynamic, Albert said, “will be one of the big things we’ll be watching.”
▪ Even though the Seahawks have lost three games, a Chiefs’ victory in this one would doubtless make more people notice them nationally, Albert said. They’d have won seven of eight since their 0-2 start.
▪ Albert called Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid “absolutely one of the top coaches in the league,” noting his five NFC championship game berths with Philadelphia. “That’s not easy to do,” he added.
▪ Albert and his crew covered the Cowboys-Jaguars game last Sunday in London. He said the atmosphere there “has the feel of a playoff game” and marveled at seeing jerseys from every NFL team in the crowd. “I would highly recommend it for Chiefs fans,” he said, who could afford to go to their game there against Detroit next year.
▪ The last time Albert called a Chiefs game was Dec. 18, 2011, when the 5-8 Chiefs beat 13-0 Green Bay 19-14 in a game he called testament to the “any given Sunday” adage in the NFL. “Nobody picked the Chiefs that day,” he said.
▪ 5. RULE OF FLAW: When defensive back Ron Parker stripped Buffalo’s Bryce Brown of the ball at the Chiefs’ 5 on Sunday and it ultimately ricocheted out of the end zone, it was the Chiefs’ ball at their own 20 on the touchback.
It’s the rule, and good for the Chiefs that they prospered by it.
But this rule is ridiculous.
Now, from what I can tell, it was implemented for a fine reason: to prevent teams from intentionally fumbling into the end zone hoping for a touchdown.
The approach is skewed, though, and just too punitive for the offensive team.
If you fumble out of bounds at the one-centimeter line (and it’s not fourth down) you retain possession.
But if it trickles into the end zone not only does the other team get it … but out at the 20?
Now, having protested this, I’m also not sure what the solution is. But even the oddity of having the offensive team retain possession and be cast out to the 20 would seem more fair.