Winless in Missouri: Fans of Rams, Chiefs find little to cheer about as both teams start 0-5By Bill Draper, AP
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Mopey in Missouri as both Rams, Chiefs struggle
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This past Sunday, the final roar at Arrowhead Stadium wasn’t from the legions of rabid, red-clad Kansas City Chiefs faithful. It was from Cowboys fans celebrating a game-winning 60-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
“They had so many Cowgirl fans there,” complained Ty Rowton, a Chiefs fan known as “X-Factor” who decks himself in red tights and war paint on game day. “They were really loud whenever our offense was on the field. I’ve never seen that at Arrowhead — that’s our job.”
At the same time, 250 miles to the east, St. Louis Rams fans filed out of the Edward Jones Dome wondering how a team once dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf” could have become the woeful owners of the NFL’s longest current losing streak.
There are no lovable losers here in Missouri, just bad teams and miserable fans.
The Rams and Chiefs are both 0-5 this season after each finished 2-14 last year, a sort of bizarre and unintentional in-state jostling to be the worst. Sunday’s 38-10 drubbing by Minnesota was the Rams’ 15th straight loss, while Kansas City fell to Dallas 26-20 for its ninth in a row.
Both teams enter Sunday’s games — Kansas City at Washington, St. Louis at Jacksonville — as underdogs.
“When we walk out of the stadium after a loss it’s called the Walk of Shame. We’ve been doing that every week now,” Rowton said. “It’s been over a year since we won at Arrowhead.”
St. Louis players might have been hoping for some of that glory on Sunday when they wore replicas of the 1999 uniforms Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt wore on their way to a Super Bowl title. These Rams aren’t even close to the team that averaged 32 points a game and gave the city its first NFL championship.
The brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh’s failed bid to become a Rams owner aside, questions about the team’s future in St. Louis have some Rams faithful worried about a replay of 1987, when slipping attendance and an aging stadium sent the Cardinals to Arizona.
Under a clause in the Rams’ lease with the dome, the team that relocated to St. Louis in 1995 can move back to Los Angeles if the stadium isn’t deemed among the top eight of all NFL stadiums, in terms of quality, by 2014. Though just 14 years old, the dome is fast becoming one of the league’s older venues, and getting it into that top quarter seems unlikely.
“Nobody complained about that dome being an airline hangar when Kurt Warner was putting up 40 points a game there,” said Chris Gift, 32, a lifelong St. Louis resident who reluctantly adopted the Chiefs as his team when the Cardinals left after the 1987 season.
In Kansas City, a town where losing seasons for the Royals have become life’s third certainty, each new football season traditionally brought renewed optimism that the first playoff win since 1994 was just around the corner.
Realists knew going into this season that there would be growing pains as the new regime of general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley overhauled a squad that won only two games a year ago and four the previous season.
“For the most part, a majority of fans knew those guys came in and inherited nothing, and they are willing to give them time,” said Kevin Kietzman, sports director at Kansas City’s WHB radio and host of a popular afternoon talk show.
But few were prepared for a home loss to the dismal Oakland Raiders or the last-minute defensive blunders that led to Dallas’ comeback win.
“Last year was a bad year when the team went 2-14,” said Hal Wagner, owner of Ace Sports and Nationwide Tickets, an Overland Park, Kan.-based ticket reseller. “But in my wildest dreams I never expected going 0-5 with a new general manager, new coach and new $65 million quarterback.”
That quarterback, Matt Cassel, actually has a six-year, $63 million deal. But the point is made.
Demand for tickets to see both teams has been shallow, with online resellers offering upper-level seats to some December games for between $13 and $17 apiece, far below face value.
“We have found that Chiefs tickets put between two pieces of white bread with some ketchup and mustard don’t really taste that bad,” Wagner said.
Bob Fescoe, a sports radio talk show host who went from WHB in Kansas City to KFNS in St. Louis, said some Rams fans are simply resigned to losing this season.
“With five wins in three years, as fans, how much more yelling can you do about a team?” he asked.
Back in Kansas City, X-Factor said there’s no way in the world the Chiefs will match the Lions’ futility a year ago and go 0-16.
“Not a chance,” he said. “There are too many easy teams at the back of our schedule. Washington this week is a very winnable game. Hey, Detroit beat them and we won two more games than Detroit did last year.”
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