The Long Road Back to the Super Bowl

Chiefs' trip to Miami, 50 years in the making, inspires a lot of fond memories. And some not so fond.


By Joe Sweeney


The Chiefs 1969 season was exceptional and ended with a trip to Super Bowl IV and the first and only World Championship in the team’s Kansas City history. My mom went to that game at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans; Dad had to stay behind to teach a continuing Ed real estate class. I was a kid, but vividly remember watching all the Chiefs games, several from the Huddle Club seats at Municipal Stadium.

When Arrowhead opened in 1972, we had front-row seats in the upper deck. I didn’t miss many games until college. We studied stats and knew more about the players than almost any adult. Len Dawson Jr. and Stu Stram played on my little league baseball teams and we had the fortune to meet their dads and other players.

One year, during Chiefs summer camp at William Jewell, Otis Taylor guarded me as Len Dawson sent me long. I ran all the way down the field and finally just stopped, convinced he wasn’t going to the throw it my way. He did, and it sailed about 20 yards over my head. I stood in awe—Len Dawson had a rocket of an arm.

The Chiefs have evolved over the years and we’ve had plenty of great teams, players and exciting seasons during a 60-year-history in Kansas City. We also had some very lean and challenging years. I remember the ridiculous ad campaign called “We’re Coming Back Kansas City, Come Along.” As an advertising guy, I cannot fathom why they continued that groaner for years as losses piled up. We spent a fortune on tickets—even during the losing era—but I believe this is testament to the importance the Chiefs are to this  city and the remarkable loyalty of fans. But let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun to win.

Against the Texans in the AFC divisional round, I think we all expected the Chiefs would come out and handle business. I’ve never seen such a quick thumpin as that first quarter. I was sure we could compete, but spotting a playoff team 24 points isn’t a good plan. The AFC  Championship against the Titans was similar. We witnessed composure, execution and perseverance at its best. We’ve punched our ticket to Super Bowl LIV 50 years since our last trip, and with arguably the strongest, most explosive NFL team I’ve seen.

The 49ers are great too—I’m convinced the two best teams made it this year to the Super Bowl. The stars have aligned with the Chiefs and the confidence and focus is noticeably strong. For years I’ve talked with Trent Green before the season, discussing the team, our chances and predictions for the year. Before the 2018 season, we were optimistic. He mentioned that this was a special, talented and unified team. We both felt we had the talent and tenacity to make it to the Super Bowl. We expected to make it to this year’s Super Bowl.

 

We’ve punched our ticket to Super Bowl LIV with arguably the strongest, most explosive NFL team I’ve ever seen.

 

Tickets: The Eternal Quest

In 1985, I bought an Audi from Major Cadillac/Audi and the salesman said he had two tickets to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans that he’d sell me. Naturally, I bought them. “They’ll be in your name at Will Call,” he insisted. They weren’t. At kickoff, the guy at the ticket window was kind enough to sell me tickets at face value. We got in, and ended up with friends in a suite to witness Refrigerator Perry score a rushing TD as the Bears destroyed New England, 46-10.

In 1989 I went to Miami for Super Bowl XXIII. The 49ers beat the Bengals. We didn’t have tickets, but tried to buy some at Will Call—no chance this time. I saw a college buddy at one sponsor pre-game events and he comped us two tickets—a lucky score. Before the flight home the next day,I bought a copy of the Miami Herald. The front page feature read “Sweeney was last seen forlornly wandering through the
parking lot. Without a ticket.” WHAT!?! That guy in line at Will Call was a reporter writing a feature on what people would do to get tickets to the Super Bowl.

You can guess who I called upon landing. I was pleased to report that my friend and I enjoyed free seats on the 40 yard line. In January 1991, I was able to buy tickets before Super Bowl XXV in Tampa and brought a relative. This was the year of the NY-NY game—the Giants beat
the Bills, 20-19. It was also during the intense era of Operation Desert Storm. The thought of being part of a big crowd made him nervous. So did the fighter jets and AWACs flying above and the boulders and trucks surrounding the stadium.

“I’m not going, Joe!” Apparently he’d watched a few too many of those movies. Dude, we’re at the Super Bowl! I don’t think he realized how hard it was to get tickets. I conceded and sold my ticket to a doctor. He sold his—to an undercover cop. I won’t elaborate, other than to say this one was not among my two favorite Super Bowls.

In the fourth quarter of this month’s Texans game, I watched air fare from KCI to Florida literally double on the Web site right before my eyes. Nonetheless, I booked tickets—non-refundable ones at that. So here we are again. A bit older and I hope a little bit wiser. As of this writing,
however, we’re without Super Bowl tickets. 

As the journalist in Miami reported in ’89, Sweeney may once again forlornly wander the parking lot without a ticket. Here’s to repeating history and proving him wrong—and especially to the Chiefs for this opportunity to claim the title of World Champions once again after half a century. I hope to be there to cheer them on.

About the author

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Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher

JSweeney@Ingrams.com

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