The Kansas City Chiefs' 42nd season in the National Football League began with a lockout and ended with the team outside the playoffs. The season is mercifully over, and only one word properly describes the 2011 campaign: cursed.
This season will be remembered for torn ACLs. (Chiefs players could probably get a bulk discount on the surgical procedures. At least they won't be lonely during rehab.) But Kansas City's pain wasn't just on the field. The Chiefs suffered off-the-field debacles, including front-office PR blunders, ego-fueled catfights, fan buffoonery and embarrassing lawsuits.
The Chiefs managed to play spoiler to history, ending the Green Bay Packers' bid for a perfect season. But with every victory on the way to a mediocre 7-9 record, the team played itself out of the running to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
In an effort to exorcise the 2011 season's demons, we begin the offseason's self-flagellation with a timeline of the season's lowest and strangest moments. Help us, Hank Stram!
Punch Out, Go Home
July 20, 2011
It's important when running a business to keep overhead low. Sometimes management needs to trim costly benefits like health insurance and 401(k)s. But cutting an employee perk during a recession? That's just cruel. Yet the Chiefs did just that.
For years, ticket takers, parking attendants and other seasonal, hourly employees could clock out, go inside Arrowhead and watch the games, reportedly in the standing-room section. The team discontinued the benefit last season.
"We're working to develop policies and practices that provide the best possible experience for our fans; and fair and appropriate compensation and benefits for our employees," the Chiefs organization said in a statement.
The Chiefs apparently believe that watching the game after sweating or freezing while helping fans is unfair and inappropriate.
The move made Internet headlines, giving the Chiefs just enough bad karma before the start of training camp. It was especially miserly given rich-person magazine Forbes' assessment that the Chiefs are the 27th most valuable pro-sports team in the world — in the world! — worth $965 million. The franchise was also further from the salary cap than any other team in the league, meaning that the chintzy organization was willing to go into the season with journeyman Tyler Palko and rookie Ricky Stanzi as its backup quarterbacks. Better pray that Matt Cassel doesn't get injured.
Maybe the penny-pinching will help the club climb to No. 26 in 2012.
Never Forget ... to Charge Admission
July 22, 2011
A local firefighter told 610 Sports' Nick Wright that the Chiefs were charging 100 firefighters, who would be taking part in a pregame ceremony, to stay and watch the game — on September 11. The rumored price to stay: $25. Hours after Wright tweeted the information and the news spread, Wright reported that the Chiefs called him and said the firefighters could stay for free. The baffling plan was the team's second PR boner in two days, and the season hadn't even started yet.
Bye-Bye, Brian Waters
July 28, 2011
Releasing guard Brian Waters after 11 seasons was like putting down a beloved family pet. At age 34, Waters was on the backside of his career. Waters was a class act to the end. "This was a mutual decision between us," Waters told The Kansas City Star of his departure. "We both felt the time was right. There's no ill will. There's no bad blood. I think it's a good move for both parties." The New England Patriots snapped him up, and he had himself a hell of a season. "He's really worked hard, just doing everything that you would want a player to do," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the Providence Journal. "He's worked hard in studying his plays and being in his notebook and watching film and asking questions. He's very well prepared. He's a true professional and he really works hard at his job. He takes a lot of pride in it." The Chiefs, a team that allowed 33 sacks and 72 hits on the quarterback, definitely couldn't use a guy who had a Pro Bowl season (his sixth).