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The Chiefs’ Belief In Disbelief Is Becoming Unbelievable

12:47 PM EST on February 16, 2023

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVII victory parade on February 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

There is almost no scenario in which drunken parade grand marshal Patrick Mahomes is not a good thing, even if his forfeit of choice is Coors Light. Given his size (he is listed as 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, even if he looks like a Peter Pan impersonator on the field), it must have taken about 70 of those bad boys to get his eyes to glass over like that.

Not that there weren't other Chiefs players who hadn't chosen a beer motif for their fete down Grand Boulevard (soon to be renamed Kadarius Toney Promenade), but Mahomes is typically more buttoned down and coloring-inside-the-lines image-conscious. Put another way, you can imagine Travis Kelce wearing a giant pendant with a beer can as the focal point, but you have to squint to imagine a shovelfaced Mahomes, let alone one who used the Lombardi Trophy to beer-luge Chad Henne.

In any event, the parade was like most others of their ilk—players on buses who occasionally ranged near the crowds to distribute and accept high fives, hugs and profane affirmations of their collective greatness. An estimated million people gathered in a town with half that population to party (or as one local TV website chose to call it, "Lombardiiiiiiii") like it was 2020.

And they all agreed that the ancillary theme of the day was how nobody respected them or believed they could win the Super Bowl, which is a tiresome but traditional method of in-your-face-itude, but frankly beneath the Chiefs. It is also demonstrably false. They've been a frightening team for five years now, and even those hardened old bastards in Las Vegas (no, not the Raiders) have been on them even before their first Super Bowl.

In 2018, they went off at 30-to-1 odds in the preseason books, a fair assessment given that they hadn't even invented Mahomes yet. The next year, after winning 12 games and reaching the conference championship, they were second favorite at 6-to-1. Then after winning their first dingus, they were the choice of choices at 9-to-2, and 9-to-2 the year after that. Going into this season, they were a slightly more modest plus-1020, but still with the third-shortest odds behind Tom Brady and the Buffalo Bills, and better than the defending champion Los Angeles Rams and the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.

In addition, the wall of preseason pundits (too long to mention here) all had them pegged before the year as one of the two likeliest teams to come out of the AFC, and they were barely one-point underdogs against the Eagles. In short, nobody didn't think the Chiefs were uber-formidable, or that they weren't more than merely legitimate championship contenders. Plus, and this should be mentioned, they didn't exactly tear through the postseason like Visigoths—their aggregate margin of victory was 13 points, the third lowest of any Super Bowl champion. There were other teams with their profile, and it is to their credit that they not only won the Super Bowl with fourth quarter excellence as they had in their last Super Bowl victory, 10 of their 17 wins came with a margin of a touchdown or less. This does not diminish them; it makes them look better because excellence is usually proven at the margins.

I suppose it isn't quite so energizing if Kelce yells, "Everybody thought we were good, and we are, so you guys are smart for realizing that we are good." That barely gets the blood past 100. He'd be more credible as an after-dinner speaker if his claims took a more futuristic tone, like, "Everyone knew we were good, and we're going to be better because we will never age or die or get hurt or have bad luck or commit turnovers or get called for dodge holding penalties or anything, ever." I mean, it would be preposterous, but it would still be better than "nobody thought we could win." There were surely people who didn't want the Chiefs to win, and nobody has ever gone to an Eagles fan for clear-eyed football analysis in the first place, but the Chiefs have been eyelid-deep in national respect for years now.

True, this isn't much by way of criticism, because it isn't criticism at all. The Chiefs have been given a high bar and cleared it twice. It's just a plea for something different and better in the the way of post-victory rhetoric than complaining that people didn't lavish the winners with a trail of praise when the opposite is true. If, as most people believe, the Chiefs could be like this for another half-decade, they might spend a little time this offseason honing that skill as well as perfecting their snack-food-inspired playbook. Maybe the battle cry can morph into something more in keeping with what the nation thinks about when they imagine the Chiefs—perhaps along the lines of "We'll keep kicking everyone's asses until all the coordinators on the losing teams start getting passed over for jobs and Eric Bieniemy finally gets his." That's a respect angle they can take with absolute infallibility.

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