“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.