Saturday, December 24, 2005

Chiefs Seek To Have All Home Games in December

The Kansas City Chiefs kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Saturday with a 20–7 victory over AFC West rival San Diego.  Kansas City also extended its amazing home December winning streak to 18 consecutive games.  When hearing Andy Williams croon “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Chiefs fans believe that he’s singing about Arrowhead Stadium in the twelfth month.  Considering this great run, the team has requested that the NFL schedule all its 2006 home games in December.


The request is unlikely to be granted, as playing eight games in one month would place an enormous physical burden on the players.  Even though one of those contests would be versus San Francisco, the other seven games would take a toll.  Such a grind could also bring head coach Dick Vermeil to tears.  If not, something else surely will.


However, you cannot blame the Chiefs for making such an appeal.  Kansas City has not lost a December home game since a 24–19 setback to Indianapolis in 1996.  Back then, Vermeil was in the broadcast booth, Marcus Allen was the Chiefs’ leading rusher, and Kansas City still had a major league baseball team.  The Chiefs opened that season with a loss at Houston – to the Oilers.  For the young readers out there, Houston once had a team called the Oilers.  They moved to Tennessee and became the Titans.  They are not to be confused with the New York Jets, known as the New York Titans until 1963.  Houston now has the Texans, not to be confused with the Dallas Texans.  To bring things full circle, the Dallas Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963.  Name changes were commonplace in the American Football League that year, to the delight of league commissioner Sean “Puffy” Combs.


The December winning streak began on December 7, 1997 with a 30–0 thumping of old rival Oakland.  The blowout was so deflating for the visitors, most of the infamous Raider fans did not even muster up the energy to commit any felonies.  The streak has continued for eight more years, even though 1997 and 2003 were the only playoff seasons during that stretch.  The team did make a shrewd move in 2001 – a year in which the Chiefs finished 6–10.  Faced with a home matchup with Philadelphia – about to make the first of four consecutive NFC championship game appearances – Kansas City knew that a loss was inevitable.  Therefore, the team made sure that the game was held on Thursday, November 29.  If it had been played three days later on Sunday, the Chiefs’ 23–10 defeat would have ended the December run at seven games.


Strangely, Kansas City is 0–3 in January home games during that time period.  Playoff losses to Denver and Indianapolis in January 1998 and 2004, respectively, were particularly painful.  In January 2000, the hated Raiders kept the Chiefs out of the postseason with an overtime triumph.  Kansas City is well aware of this track record as it faces Cincinnati on Sunday, January 1.  As a result, the team is editing its schedule to show that the game will take place on December 32.


If the league does deny the team’s request, the Chiefs will adapt accordingly.  The 2006 NFL season will begin next September.  However, the Kansas City organization will eagerly await its home opener in the month of “December minus 3.”