Are the Kansas City Chiefs cursed? I found myself asking this question after watching “Catching Hell,” a documentary that is part of ESPN’s 30-for-30 series. The film tells the story of Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan who infamously interfered with a foul ball and prevented Moises Alou from making a catch in game six of the 2003 NLCS.
The film goes into depth about the curses and superstitions that have been brought upon Chicago and their beloved Cubs. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. But after watching it, I found myself doing all kinds of research on how the Chiefs could have fallen under a curse.
See, the Boston Red Sox infamously sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919, building the foundation for what was once known as the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series title until 2004, where they broke the curse and now have won three in the last decade.
What I was trying to find was where our “Bambino Curse,” if you will, started for the Chiefs.
Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star wrote an interesting piece concerning the Shuttlecocks that are in the front yard of the Nelson-Atkins Museum and how their arrival has brought on a curse to Kansas City sports. Mellinger wrote,
•In the three NFL seasons before the Nelson-Atkins commissioned the Shuttlecocks, the Chiefs won three playoff games.
•In the 10 baseball seasons before the Shuttlecocks, the Royals had seven winning seasons and a world championship.
•In the 29 combined seasons since, the Chiefs have won zero playoff games and the Royals have just one winning record.”
And note, Mellinger’s article was originally published in 2008 and republished this year after the Chiefs dropped a 28 point lead to the Colts in the wildcard round. Pretty crazy if you think about it.
But I wanted to dig a little deeper and focus specifically on the Chiefs and where this all could’ve started. Could it be the Montana curse? Or perhaps the Marty Curse? Or is it a 49ers cast off curse? Meaning the Chiefs have now started 4 former 49’er quarter backs in the last 20 years and none of them could get us over the hump.
For starters, the Chiefs hired Marty Schottenheimer to be their head coach in 1989. Marty was already known to have some bad luck in the playoff’s going back to his days with Cleveland and the ever so famous, “The Drive,” in which John Elway and the Denver Broncos-in a span of 5 minutes and 2 seconds- drove 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left in regulation. Denver won the game in overtime with a field goal, 23–20.
Marty brought a lot of his bad joo-joo with him to Kansas City and it always seemed to be awake when playoff time came around. The Chiefs had traded for legendary quarterback, Joe Montana during the offseason of 1993. As we all know, Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game, only to be knocked out by a concussion and the Chiefs went on to get blown out by the Bills, 30-13.
In 1996, quarterback Elvis Grbac, formerly with the 49ers, was injured during the regular season- paving a path for Rich Gannon to take over. Needless to say, Gannon lead the Chiefs to the playoffs only to be stripped of his starting spot in favor of Grbac’s return. It didn’t work out, bringing us back to the question of 49ers cast offs.
Insert Alex Smith. Now don’t get me wrong here because I for one like Smith and hope he does bring us the Lombardi Trophy, but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a possible curse that’s still holding on through the 49ers.
Alex Smith played the best game of his career against the Colts during wild card weekend and go figure, it wasn’t enough as the Chiefs went on to lose the game 45-44.
I was crushed, as all Chiefs fans were, and I had that feeling of “here we go again,” as the Chiefs continuously fell apart in the second half of that game.
The Cubs were up 3-0 in that game six of the NLCS and only needed six more outs before they could throw all the monkeys and baggage they had off of their backs.
The Chiefs had to hold on for two quarters and protect a 28 point lead, but like the Cubs giving up 8 runs in the 8th and losing the game, the Chiefs allowed the Colts to go on a 35-13 run in the second half, fueling the frustration and awakening whatever curse it is that still haunts the Chiefs today.
Some people believe a curse is just a scape goat or excuse, which in reality, it is. But to that I say, what else could we blame our play off losses on? Injuries, sure I guess if were talking last year. What about the Lynn Elliot game? Or the no punt game in 2003? What’s our excuse for those other than a curse?
What’s so confusing for me is how or why a curse has been set upon our beloved football team? What could the people of Kansas City done that was so bad for us to deserve 20 years of football heartache?
I typically associate curses and superstitions more with baseball than I do football, but after watching the Chiefs lose the way they did this last time, I’m fully convinced that there is something going on. Whether it be the Shuttlecocks, Marty, or the 49ers- something has to give eventually, right?
Even something gave for the Red Sox in 2004. They were down three games to none in the ALCS, only to rally back and win 4 straight against the Yankees. They did it in such an epic fashion, you couldn’t write a better script if you asked Hollywood.
I like to think that one day, the Chiefs will finally have that “something” give, and they finally have their day in the sun. As the old Mayday Parade song goes, “Without the bitter, the sweet isn’t as sweet.” Let’s just hope we can taste that sweetness sometime soon.