The fans of Titans-cul-de-sac would like to offer a group hug to Chiefs Nation. We are fan bases with a lot in common. If success has been present, it has been fleeting. The Chiefs do have that one Super Bowl win, albeit one that happened more than 40 years ago. The Chiefs are the only team in NFL history to get a kicker into the Hall of Fame. That’s something. I don’t think Al Del Greco is making the cut.
One thing the Tennessee Titans do not have is a football season like this one for the Chiefs. If we just keep it to on-the-field performance, it’s a wonder that so many prognosticators thought that Kansas City could win the AFC West. The only win has been a bizarre overtime field-goal fest in New Orleans. The team didn’t even have a lead during the run of play until a Monday night game against a decimated Steelers squad. The two times the Titans have had seasons that led to top-ten draft picks the following years, those picks didn’t go well, so we’re not going to be able to offer any solace to you in that way.
If you want someone to offer honest commentary and not empty platitudes about yesterday’s horrific tragedy, you came to the right fan base. The circumstances of Steve McNair’s death are not the same as what happened yesterday, but it’s close enough. It’s true that McNair was retired, and he in fact completed his career with the hated Ravens. But he’s no Rich Gannon. He’s the most beloved player in Titans history. On July 4 three years ago, he was gone.
This was pre-Twitter, at least for me, so the news passed over much more slowly. What happened yesterday seemed more immediate. What happened yesterday to Chiefs fans in particular, and let’s not pretend that this doesn’t affect the rest of NFL fans and Americans as a whole, was worse than any missed field goal in the playoffs. When our team loses in a painful fashion, it does hurt, but it seems to occupy a different place of suffering than actual human loss. We can lose perspective and make the game larger than life, or at least as big as life. Every human life that ends prematurely is a loss for us all.
It happened again for Titans fans this offseason. O.J. Murdock shot himself in front of his high school as the team started training camp. Murdock was a great high school player who struggled to make a name for himself in college and was a guy entering his second training camp with the team without much of a chance to make the team. He was 25, which is the same age as Jovan Belcher. Why he did it is lost. One possibility is that it seemed easier to stop living than to continue struggling.
I spent one long, painful night on the phone with a friend who wanted to end things. I’ll even keep the gender out of it. I talked and the other person talked and no matter what I said, I made no traction. I felt helpless to stop whatever was going to happen but I stayed present, talking, listening, losing a night of sleep, until the call ended early in the morning. This friend did not go through with it. I don’t think it was anything I said. I think it was in part because there was someone to share in the pain of loss so great that life didn’t seem important anymore.
That’s what we can do as Titans fans. We can listen. While I already threw out the platitudes card, one is appropriate in this instance. It gets better. We’re here to help until it does get better.