My son, Jack, is an adolescent, so there’s a lot we disagree on. Curfews. Sleep habits. The best rapper of all time. (He tells me Led Zeppelin doesn’t depend.) The place I’m dug in on, unwisely, is that this:
Len Dawson is the best quarterback within the historical past of the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs.
Jack, 15, is a Patrick Mahomes man.
Statistically, I don’t have a leg to face on. Over 19 seasons, first within the N.F.L. after which the outdated A.F.L., Dawson threw for 28,711 yards and 239 touchdowns, and put up a quarterback score of 82.6. Mahomes’s score stands at 108.7. He’s on monitor to surpass Dawson’s profession output inside three years, or in solely his sixth season as starter.
Championship-wise, Mahomes and Dawson are tied at one Tremendous Bowl victory apiece.
I give Dawson the sting as a result of, nicely, I am the daddy and I say so. Additionally, he was my very own father’s favourite participant. He was the quarterback I pretended to be after I was a boy and dropped again into the pocket to throw passes to receivers that weren’t there.
Nonetheless, nostalgia will carry me solely up to now. If the Chiefs defeat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Tremendous Bowl LV, I’ll fortunately concede that Jack is probably the most educated Chiefs fan within the household. My late father finally did so for me and my siblings.
The reality is that I can barely argue with Jack now. Past Mahomes’s pin-ball-machine-on-tilt numbers, Gumby-like physique management and rocket arm, the enjoyment that he brings to an often-brutal sport is refreshing.
My son admires Mahomes for the camaraderie he exhibits with teammates like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. He devours the snippets of Mahomes’s pregame pep talks and sideline chats that discover their approach onto Snapchat and Instagram. He likes the best way Mahomes exhibits off his sneaker assortment and pours ketchup on virtually any meals.
Jack’s unconditional fandom jogs my memory of what it was like for me when the strut of a sports activities hero — Dawson — was proof sufficient that each one was proper on the earth. It’s totally different today for certain, however that common emotion stays intact.
I’m as outdated because the Kansas Metropolis franchise and got here of age when Dawson, Ed Podolak and Otis Taylor introduced residence the Chiefs’ first Tremendous Bowl title within the 1969 season, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7.
At barely 6 toes tall and a slight 190 kilos, Lenny, as he was identified, seemed extra like a professor than a soccer participant. Chiefs Coach Hank Stram understood this and invented the “shifting pocket” to maintain his quarterback secure in addition to environment friendly.
We watched at residence as Dawson threw darts, not rockets, to win the sport and earn the Most Priceless Participant Award. His stat line is pedestrian by at present’s requirements: 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and one landing, a 46-yard toss to Taylor to ice the sport.
You can’t watch the acquainted NFL Movies clip of Stram telling his gamers to “simply maintain matriculating the ball down the sector, boys” with out pondering of Dawson.
My household had season tickets, first at outdated Municipal Stadium, then at Arrowhead Stadium. We now have remained very a lot part of the Chiefs Kingdom, so purple is the one colour that issues throughout soccer season, and subzero tailgating in Arrowhead’s car parking zone is our favourite strategy to eat a meal. Nowadays we attempt to make it residence for a sport every season, however principally we specific our fandom from the sofa.
The many years go, however issues keep largely the identical. After watching away video games on tv, my brother, our neighbors and I performed deal with soccer within the entrance yard. Now, it’s two-hand contact for my son and his buddies on the asphalt of a New York Metropolis park.
Thankfully, Jack has not needed to endure something just like the half-century of distress and heartbreak I suffered between that first Tremendous Bowl victory and the Chiefs’ win final yr over San Francisco, 31-20, in Tremendous Bowl LIV.
There was a 14-year span when the Chiefs posted an 89-136-3 common season document, with solely a single depressing look within the playoffs, a 35-15 loss to the Jets within the 1986 season wild-card sport. With the assistance of Joe Montana, Coach Marty Schottenheimer revived the franchise and took the Chiefs to the A.F.C. championship sport in January 1994, solely to lose to Buffalo, 30-13.
We had been again — type of. Over the subsequent 22 seasons, the Chiefs received division titles, had three 13-win seasons and returned to the postseason seven extra occasions, however they didn’t win one other playoff sport till the 2015 season.
By means of all of it, even lengthy after he was gone, Dawson remained my man. Not solely did he win, he was one in every of us.
In these days, being an N.F.L. nice didn’t pay all that nicely. Most gamers held jobs within the low season. After he retired, Dawson labored year-round because the sports activities anchor for an area station, typically going from the apply facility to the studio to report the night information.
He was an unassuming type. My brother labored at a preferred pizza joint near the station the place Dawson ordered takeout.
“You bought an order for Dawson?” the legend would ask my brother every time, despite the fact that the retired quarterback, by then within the Corridor of Fame, hardly wanted to say who he was.
Mahomes has endeared himself to Kansas Metropolis in related vogue despite the fact that his $450 million contract makes him one of many highest-paid athletes on the planet, one who is probably extra more likely to have his pizza delivered.
He’s scoring good-guy factors in his adopted hometown. He used a few of his cash to purchase an possession curiosity within the Kansas Metropolis Royals. He has a basis that concentrates sources and a focus in serving to youngsters. He helped pay the price of having Arrowhead function a polling place in November’s presidential election.
I do know this stuff as a result of Jack advised me.
Final yr, he and I went to Miami and watched our staff win its second Tremendous Bowl. We are going to watch at residence on Sunday.
Dawson or Mahomes, it does probably not matter.
For 3 or so hours, all will likely be proper with the world.