The Ones That Sadly Got Away … Monday Cup O’Chiefs
“What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad but…that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good” — Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) in the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets.
An altogether vicious statement … that in fact, is quite accurate.
While it’s undeniable that the departure of LeBron James from Cleveland contributed to the region’s longstanding tradition of suffering a broken spirit, the current situation in Ohio is not similar to those already endured in the past by the snake-bitten locals.
This time, the newfound anger pointed towards James is not exclusively fueled by the assumption that those Cleveland natives (who are accustomed to these kinds of disappointments) were merely being deprived of potential success — again. No, the element that made the breakup infinitely worse than expected is epitomized by sheer frustration, originated in the unthinkable possibility where one of their own (in this case, the prodigious son of Akron) would choose to get away from the loop in order to have it good – although not only for him…but for somebody else too.
And that’s the truly depressing vision for Cavalier fans. That in all probability, James is going to come through for another audience — when he could’ve done it for them.
Come to think about it that’s one of the worst things that can happen to any fan base: the prospect of having to deal with the sensation that you missed on a great opportunity that was right before your eyes … and that other party mercilessly seized down the road.
Thanks to a QB controversy, a youth movement, a decline in performance or even a discrepancy in value throughout the years, similar instances have arisen in Chiefs history. Other squads conquered new heights by reaping the benefits of the efforts of Lamar Hunt’s franchise. And even though we can always rationalize that different circumstances acted in every case – the price was not worth it or it just wasn’t meant to be – the fact remains that while the people that left the Red and Gold colors indeed enjoyed progress, the Chiefs, as a whole, stood still. It prompts us to always think about what might have been. And clearly, that’s the phase that they’re about to begin in Ohio.
So, in an effort to comply with the premise that misery loves company — as well as to side with a region that has gone through its fair share of inglorious memories — I’m dropping those seven names that went on to enjoy greener pastures away from KC, and whose departures still make me cringe every once in a while, if not every day.
7. Joe Horn: After the passing of Derrick Thomas in early ’00, the Chiefs needed an emotional sort who could lead both on the field and in the locker room, someone to fill the massive void left by #58. Would Horn have been ready to assume that task? I guess we’ll never know. But he did work out all right for the Saints and will go into their Hall of Fame this year.
6. John Tait: Putting aside for a moment that the BYU product reached the Super Bowl in ’06 as a member of the Bears, I just want to say Tait’s spot on this list and his ’05 exodus really marked the end of one of the greatest offensive lines in Chiefs’ history (circa, 2002-2004). Things haven’t been the same in the attacking side of the trenches ever since he left. Man, did they spoil us back in the day.
5. Kawika Mitchell: Have you ever heard about the “Lurkers”? You know, those guys that hang around by the slot machines, just waiting for the moment to collect the big payout at the expense of other people’s money? Well, from 2003 to 2006, the Chiefs invested in Mitchell at MLB, earning moderate dividends. And when 2007 arrived, the Giants took him on a one-year flyer at WLB, cashing in big in the form of a victory in Super Bowl XLII. In this story, Mitchell was the slot machine, the Giants were the Lurkers and the Chiefs came up empty-handed.
4. Tony Richardson: If I told you that I’d be mad to see T-Rich hoist the Lombardi Trophy before the Chiefs could, I’d be flat-out lying. He’s too good a person AND a football player. It’s our loss that he’s not around K.C. anymore.
3. Nick Lowery: This is a tricky selection because Lowery did not earn anything of relevance with the N.Y. Jets after he left Kansas City. So, what’s the greener pasture he came to enjoy? That would be historical relevance. To this day, we are all positive that if Lowery had stayed after the ’93 season, the name Lin Elliot would not be a part of our tortured past. Trust me, that lonely conjecture gives him added value in my eyes. At least I’d like to believe so.
2. Rich Gannon: The Grbac-Gannon controversy was the father of the Brady-Bledsoe debate. And we showed the way by picking the wrong guy. To this day, Marty Schottenheimer is still regretting that he betrayed his instincts back in ’97 and who could blame him? Gannon ended up being a more than productive company man for the Silver and Black in the late stage of his career than Grbac ever was for the Chiefs or the Ravens in his prime. Never mind that Gannon threw five INT’s in the ’02 Super Bowl against Tampa Bay. The important thing is that he reached the Big Game in the first place. And we haven’t been close.
1.Neil Smith: Please go ahead and tell me what was the worst part of Neil Smith’s departure from Kansas City in ’97? Was it that we never saw again his George Brett homage in Arrowhead Stadium? Was it that sack-mate Derrick Thomas lost his bookend? Or was it the fact that, as a member of the Denver Broncos, Smith helped John Elway become a World Champion, while beating the Chiefs along the way? As you can imagine, the mere fact that I asked those queries turned him into the hands down “winner” of a reminiscence that definitely, I don’t want to enrich in the near future.
You know, more like, never again.
NFL PERSONNEL & NEWS FILE FOR WEEKEND OF JULY 9-10-11
- BUCCANEERS – signed G Keydrick Vincent to a 2-year, $4.5 million contract – he started 16 games last year for the Panthers at guard; released G Sergio Render – an undrafted rookie out of Virginia Tech.
- CARDINALS – signed 6th-round draft choice CB Jorrick Calvin to a 4-year, $ 1,873,000 contract with a $88,235 signing bonus – he did not play in ’09 at Troy because of academic problems but could be a factor as a punt returner in his rookie season; released WR Juamorris Stewart – undrafted rookie out of Southern; placed QB Kurt Warner on the reserve/retired list – Arizona waited until now incase Warner changed his mind about retirement.
- CHARGERS – signed 3rd-round draft choice ILB Donald Butler – UConn product has a chance to see playing time in revamped San Diego defense; signed 5th-round draft choice DT Cam Thomas to a 4-year, $1,981,000 contract – out of North Carolina, he has a chance to be the San Diego starter at NT, given departure of both Jamal Williams and Ian Scott.
- EAGLES – QB Michael Vick has been told by his probation officer that he cannot leave the state of Pennsylvania. That’s why he was a no show over the weekend at a North Carolina football camp and a Georgia golf tournament with his name attached. The decision was made after a shooting took place outside his birthday party in Virginia in June. Rumors persist that the Eagles are preparing to get rid of Vick.
- FALCONS – released QB D.J. Shockley – he was running No. 4 on depth chart and has little future in the NFL.
- 49ERS – signed 6th-round TE Nate Byham to a 4-year, contract – the Pitt product is more blocker than receiver and unlikely to challenge Vernon Davis for the starting spot.
- GIANTS – although he was better known as the voice of Yankee Stadium, the late Bob Sheppard handled stadium announcing duties for the Giants for 50 years (1956-2006). Sheppard passed away over the weekend at the age of 99. “Bob Sheppard was the most distinguished and dignified voice in all of professional sports,” Giants co-owner John Mara said in a team released statement. “We are very proud of the fact that he was the voice of the Giants for so many years.”
- LIONS – club president Tom Lewand pleaded guilty on Friday to driving while impaired and was sentenced to six months on probation and $870 in fines and court costs. He now faces likely suspension by the NFL. He was arrested on June 25th and tested at more than twice the legal limit.
- PACKERS – signed 5th-round draft choice TE Andrew Quarless to a 4-year, $1,972,000 contract, with a $182,425 signing bonus – Penn State product who was underachiever for Joe Paterno, largely due to immaturity including three team suspensions.
- PATRIOTS – signed 7th-round draft choice DE Brandon Deaderick to a 4-year, $1,830,000 contract with a $40,300 signing bonus – big man out of Alabama and Bill Belichick loves those Crimson Tide guys.
- RAIDERS – signed 3rd-round draft choice OT Jared Veldheer to a 4-year contract, terms undisclosed – small college talent (Hillsdale) will get a chance to handle the right tackle spot as a rookie. Oakland also has worked him at center; signed 4th-round draft choice OL Bruce Campbell to a 4-year contract, terms undisclosed – workout warrior who dominated the NFL Combine physical testing and will get a look this season at right guard; placed OT Elliot Vallejo on the reserved/retired list – big offensive lineman who spent most of his brief career on the injured list.
- REDSKINS – G Mike Williams will miss the 2010 season because of blood clots near his heart. The clots were discovered last week. Williams says he will return in 2011 if he receives the go ahead from his doctors.
- TITANS – released DE Jay Moore and TE Gerald Harris – Moore was a former 49ers draft choice out of Nebraska and Harris was an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi.
Scott Fujita comes to mind as well – he got his ring as well.
Reminds me of the Royals in the 90s as well. Seemed like we’d get someone good, then trade them, only to have them do well for someone else.
That’s probably true for all teams, there’s bound to be someone.
Neil Smith did hurt the worst though. Gannon was definitely a close second.
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good list but in wrong order.
Bob you forgot Donnie Edwards (over Warfied) may have cost us the 2003 season.
Go back a ways add
MARV LEVY (got knocked off the plateau)
and if you add draft picks,
Dan Marino & Jim Kelly
Then there is the most recent example: Bernard Pollard – who was his replacement again? *headscratch*
For me, the one name that hurts the worst is Gannon. Anyone with a pulse knew that Gannon was better than Grbac, anyone except Marty whose loyalty to his original starting QB will continue to haunt his legacy.
But, hindsight is 20-20 and how many of us would like to unring the bell of a personal decision that turned sour? Such is life but Gannon’s departure still stings.
I hated to see Gannon go too. That stung more for me than Neil Smith leaving, just because everyone could see his career was winding down at the time. I also don’t feel Neil Smith played a big role in that Broncos team winning a championship. However, if we had kept Gannon would he have gotten us to the promised land? I don’t know. I honestly believe that a huge part of Gannon’s success in Oakland came from coach John Gruden being there. That guy is inhuman when it comes to teaching and grooming QBs. Let’s not forget that before Oakland and KC, Gannon was a journeyman. He was an average QB for a long while. Who doesn’t hit their prime until their 30′s anyway?
Jared Allen doesn’t make this list? He too recent?
So many- 1983 draft? Blackledge? Gannon really hurt-Lowery was a Peterson power play and that cost us a chance at another bowl! Lowery at his worst was better than Elliot. This story makes me cringe-no more coulda beens. 1971 Christmas day game-19 yard field goal! Dawson said it was suppose to be a fake-direct snap to Janski-but the snapper snapped to Len-Jan missed! Oh the pain! the 71 Chiefs were in the top three if not the best chiefs team of all time.
I guess I see this differently. The analogy of the slot machine only holds water for me if the player goes on to have a significant impact on the team that picks him up. That being the case, Kawika Mitchell and Neil Smith don’t fall in that category. They weren’t impact players in those Superbowl runs. Notice the Giants declined to resign Mitchell that same offseason. Jared Allen and Scott Fujita are better examples.
Finally, if you are going to go down this road, you have to be fair and talk about players the Chiefs picked up that had a tremendous impact: James Hasty, Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Willie Roaf, and Eddie Kennison to name a few.
I agree with Alphaman, we’ve had our share of nice “finds” that have helped the team, albeit, not to a Super Bowl. I hadn’t thought about the significance of losing Lowrey with the implication being he wouldn’t have missed an “easy” field goal such as Elliott’s.
I think the loss of Fujita and Edwards was just as significant, maybe more so than the loss of Mitchell. And as for Jared Allen, his loss definitely stings but we did get draft picks for him. Seems to me all of the others that you mention Bob were either released or not re-signed, right?
Only saw one comment about Jared Allen. That hurt the worst for me. Probably the best player in his prime to leave the Chiefs and I think that could’ve been avoided.
I apologize that I didn’t make it quite clear.
The spirit of this list lies in the fact that it includes all those men that left because they took adavantage of the figure of Free-Agency, just like LeBron James did as recently as Last Tuesday.
That’s the reason why you don’t find neither Jared Allen nor Bernard Pollard in this list. they both were under contracts at the time of their departures. Allen was traded and Pollard was simply cut. Their absences hurt the same, but again, they do not fit in here in the strict spirit of this list.
Again, sorry for not clarifying that enough.
As far as adding on with some miles left on them, how about Marcus Allen.
Losing draft choices, I think tops should be Gale Sayers. Our #1 choice in 1965 that signed with Chicago instead.
Sadly, I was 7 back in 1997, and an avid fan of the Chiefs. I was also an avid Gannon fan and had the sense to know he was a better QB. I always wondered why he left, but I chalked it up to “I’m a kid and don’t know any better.”
Guess I know now that sometimes people just make bad decisions. =)
yeah, heh heh, Gannon was one of my best pick ups. Reminds me of a time that I also picked up….. what was I talking about?
I would say that Horn and Gannon were the biggest losses. Losing the other guys were just part of the business of football. Also -just because I guy leaves one team for another an then wins the super bowl does not mean he is the reason that his team won the super bowl (i.e. Kawika).
-Jared Allen? Not through free agency but he was traded because of free agency.
Keith Traylor should never have been released. Donny Edwards was also a huge loss.
Excellent piece, and very well written. It is difficult to be a KC fan and think of these names without getting angry. Jared Allen is just one those names…. But more than anything else, I believe we’ve lost the ability to “hold” good players. While the money may always be a factor, it’s unfair to say that winning is not important as well. Above winning, players have a genuine need to be in a successful franchise and win Superbowl. No one wants to be the Dan Marino of KC, and that’s another reason why good talent finds it’s way of KC…
How about Jared Allen…one of the WORST decisions of the Late Peterson era was picking LJ over Allen. We would be a much better team today had LJ been sent packing earlier than he did.
Gannon was a big one and so was Lowery, but getting rid of Jared Allen killed me!
LB Donald Butler was a WASHINGTON Husky, not a UCONN Husky.
Thanks for the article Enrique, brings back some memories of frustration at not being able to resign some good players. I also lament the loss of Scott Fugita and Donnie Edwards, when we really needed some good LB’s. What hurts most is the loss of Smith, Edwards, and Gannon to other AFC West teams. Another early draft pick we lost was Bob Lilly the DE who went to the Cowboys in the early 60′s.
@Merwin in NY
As always, thank YOU for reading it. Trust me, I thought about putting Donnie Edwards on this list. Horn barely beat him.
OK I wasn’t sure about signing up for premium access but the Melvin Udall quote has pushed me over the line.
What if this site is as good as it gets?
Mitchell was indeed a key cog in the Giants Superbowl season, and especially the Superbowl itself. The Giants wanted to resign him, but he took a better offer from Buffalo, and their D hasn’t replaced him yet. Good call on Kawika.
Donnie Edwards was perhaps the worst example of anyone. We got the beginning and the end, when he was done. SD got the prime years when, IMO, he was a borderline HOF LB, a game changer, the best coverage LB in the league.
I think Tony Gonzalez should already be on this list. Statistically he was a top 3 TE last year for his 1st year as a Falcon. And he isn’t finished yet! He’s still gonna be a Chief in the hall of fame, but he will help ATL into the playoffs and maybe a super bowl, they’re good enough! GO CHIEFS!
I confidentally believe that K. Mitchell should be taken off this list. Aside from a few tackles (wasn’t even close to topping the team in tackles), he had no direct or indirect impact in the Giants’ championship. Take Mitchell off and put Jared Allen in…
If Jared Allen was still here, Herm would possibly still be the head coach. which means no move to a 3-4 defense, and our team would probably have aaron curry on it.
As much as I love JA, I would *MUCH* rather have Pioli and Crennel/Weiss/Haley running the ship instead of Carl and Herm with that pathetic excuse for a coaching staff.
Clark Hunt – you are the man.
What about that one defensive end…the mullet guy?
Tony Gonzalez is still very productive. Jared Allen is a beast. I really miss those guys.
Albert Lewis is another former Chief that could have made this list….