(Editor’s note: This story is part of The Star’s annual football preview, which will appear as a special section in the Sunday, Aug. 27 print edition and also on KansasCity.com and The Star’s Red Zone Extra app.)
So my 2016 season preview column — the one in which I somehow successfully managed to quote three ’70s-era, politically incorrect films without getting fired — actually went over pretty well. So well, in fact, that our sports editor thought it would be a good idea for me to do it again this year.
I had a tough time figuring out which movie would serve as my muse this time, however. Given the Chiefs’ offseason tumult, it definitely needed to be dark, with some backstabbing. It also had to be humorous because, you know, the healing power of laughter.*
*If you caught that Joker reference without needing to read this explanation, you are ABSOLUTELY reading the right column. Carry on.
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By late July, I still hadn’t decided on a movie. But then a reader tweeted about the Chiefs’ wild offseason, and I revealed I was considering using quotes from Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” as a way to sum it all up.
Your responses to that tweet told me I’d found Corporate Gold, which in my field means a story that should generate a ton of clicks. So, without further ado, here’s your 2017 Chiefs season preview, with the help of quotes from the greatest “Batman” movie of all time, in a column format made famous by former ESPN writer Bill Simmons.
1. “I say, You’re full of (expletive), Knox. Oh, and uh … you can quote me on that.”
This quote from Lt. Max Eckhardt goes to 33-year-old Tamba Hali, whose multiday rant in July about his lack of usage down the stretch in 2016 was well-timed. By doing it right before the start of camp, Hali made sure Andy Reid would have to answer questions about it from the media. Hali also made sure he’d get a definitive answer about his role this year, which he has received but hasn’t shared publicly. Mission accomplished.
By the way, Lt. Eckhardt — played by a gravelly-voiced William Hootkins — was the best. His disgusting beard was the highest of high comedy, and you could practically smell the whiskey oozing out of him through the screen.
2. “Smart thinking, that’s the way to go. In fact, I’d like you handle this operation personally. You … are my No. 1 … guy.”
This treacherous appeal by Gotham mob boss Carl Grissom — who was played by Jack Palance in a waaaaaaaay-over-the-top performance I didn’t fully appreciate at the time because I was, you know, 5 years old — goes to team chairman Clark Hunt, who empowered former general manager John Dorsey to trade up and select quarterback Patrick Mahomes, only to kneecap him only two months later.
3. “Hey Eckhardt … think about the future!”
One of Jack Nicholson’s most memorable lines goes to quarterback Alex Smith, who has compiled a 41-20 starting record the last four years, only to see the club surrender two first-round picks to move up and select his eventual replacement in Mahomes.
By the way, if you go back and watch the movie, the sheer glee in Nicholson’s eye as he spots Eckhardt just standing there in the open, waiting to be assassinated, never ceases to absolutely slay me.
4. “Oh, and Bob … remembaaaaaaah … yooooooooooou … are my numbaaaaaaaaah one …. gggggggggggggggguy.”
This quote from Nicholson — who is now hamming it up in full-on Joker mode at this point — to his right-hand man, Bob the Goon, goes to Brett Veach, who probably heard something along these lines from Hunt and Reid when he was promoted to replace Dorsey. Veach is a sharp, hard-working and communicative guy who deserves this opportunity, but he’ll need to match Dorsey’s strong draft record to prove himself.
5. “Hello, Vinnie … it’s your Uncle Bingo. Time to pay the check.”
This quote from the Joker — which came right before he murdered a crime boss in broad daylight during a news conference with actual reporters (what????) but no police around — goes to former salary cap guru Trip MacCracken, who paid for the Chiefs’ ongoing cap troubles with his job only a month before the Chiefs relieved Dorsey of his duties.
6. “Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press? This town needs an enema!”
This Joker quote goes to tight end Travis Kelce, who probably has the highest “Q” rating of any Chief because of his highly publicized dating show. Kelce, however, said recently that he knows he needs to grow up for the good of the team.
7. “Stop the press, who is that?”
“That’s Vicki Vale. She’s dating some guy named Wayne.”
“Well. She’s about to trade up.”
This Joker quote goes to new nose tackle Bennie Logan, who looked great in training camp. If Logan, a free-agent signee from the Eagles, shows the same kind of run-stuffing and pass-rush juice when the regular season rolls around, he’ll be an upgrade over Dontari Poe, who left for Atlanta as a free agent.
8. “How much do you weigh?”
“About 108 … I think.”
“You weigh a little bit more than 108.”
This exchange between Bruce Wayne and Vale goes to Poe, who was listed at 346 pounds as a Chief but netted a $125,000 bonus from the Falcons in July for weighing less than 330 pounds.
9. “Uh oh! He don’t look happy … he’s been using Brand X!”
This Joker quote goes to former Chief Jeremy Maclin, who voiced unhappiness with the way he says he was informed of his release in June (allegedly via voicemail). The Chiefs have privately contested that version of events, however, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever truly know what happened.
10. “Let me tell you about this guy I know, Jack. Mean kid. Bad seed. Hurt people.”
“I like him already.”
This exchange between Joker and Wayne — one of my favorites in the entire film — goes to right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is well-liked and friendly off the field but one of the meanest on it. The Chiefs are banking on him to help anchor a line that must be better in short-yardage situations.
By the way, was there a greater co-signer in comic-book movie history than Bob the Goon? He’s the Ed McMahon of the genre — the absolute best.
11. “Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
This iconic Joker line goes to Jamaal Charles and Jaye Howard, who probably heard something similar from the Chiefs’ front office when they were unceremoniously released this offseason.
12. “Hubba, hubba, hubba, money, money, money, who do ya trust?”
This Joker line during the parade scene — which will always be lit thanks to Nicholson’s performance and Prince’s super-catchy track “Trust” blasting in the background — goes to Justin Houston and Eric Berry, who each signed lucrative new contracts with the Chiefs in recent years but still skipped organized team activities. Both have looked great in camp, though Berry has missed some time because of a sore heel.
13. “He stole my balloons. Why didn’t anybody tell me he had one of those … things!
This Joker exchange — which leads to a sad death for Bob — goes to opposing coaches who must game-plan for Reid’s ultimate weapon, Tyreek Hill. Hill’s blazing speed overshadows his strong route-running and excellent ball skills, but it probably won’t after this year. He is primed for a monster season as the Chiefs’ No. 1 receiver, and any coordinator who fails to account for him properly might get the Bob treatment after the game.
14. “You idiot! You made me, remember? You dropped me into that vat of chemicals! That wasn’t easy to get over — don’t think I didn’t try!”
This Joker quote in the climactic scene goes to cornerback Marcus Peters, who won’t have to wait long before facing an arch-nemesis in the regular season. The Chiefs face the Chargers in Week 3, and Peters has a history with receiver Keenan Allen, who called Peters a “bum” on Twitter last season. Bet on Peters doing his talking on the field.
15. “Well, it’s time to retire. Feel free to drop in.”
This prescient Joker line in the closing moments of the film goes to 82-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, who will retire from radio after the season. Here’s hoping the Chiefs send him out with a season just as interesting as last year’s, which ended in a bitter defeat to Pittsburgh in the divisional round but was undeniably fun to watch.