The View From a Chiefs Fan


It’s been my distinct pleasure over the last week to exchange emails with a fellow named bankmeister, a KC Chiefs fan who co-operates a blog called House of Georges. Our main topic of discussion was of course the up-coming game between the Vikes and Chiefs, and generally the state of each team. As you may have guessed, given the team’s 0-2 start, Mr. bankmeister is not entirely thrilled with where his Chiefs are at right now. His concerns revolve largely around the play-calling, the lack of receiving talent, the shaky QB situation and the weak right side of the O-line. Sound familiar? The Vikings and Chiefs, I learned from speaking to bankmeister, are in pretty much the same boat, and that boat is leaky (but doesn’t have any strippers on it – that I know of).

I also got to know a few things about bankmeister’s history – and specifically his father’s gambling tendencies. That’s where the interview begins:

Viking Age: So give me some background on yourself. How did the bankmeister come to be a Chiefs fan? And what the heck is a “bankmeister” anyway? Also, I saw a pic of Tom Waits on your site. Are you the Tom Waits fan and if so what is your favorite Tom Waits song (mine’s “Jersey Girl”)?

bankmeister: Though I was born in the deep south, I definitely came out of the womb a Chiefs fan. Both sides of my family are from Kansas City and my folks lived in South Carolina for a short spell, but quickly returned. My father’s favorite Chiefs story to tell actually involves the Vikings: The pub he bartended at for 22 years was secretly known for its underground gambling ring, and right around the time of Super Bowl IV, they were under a bit of scrutiny. He placed a $250 bet with a customer, nevertheless, on the Chiefs final regular-season game (against Oakland), which not surprisingly infuriated my mom. Whether she was more angry about the principle of wagering their hard-earned money or that he would do so against the Raiders, I’m not sure.

When they lost, she was really pissed, but again, not near as furious as she was when, two weeks later, he went double or nothing with that same customer on their playoff game against the defending-champion Jets. Double or nothing again ensued when the Chiefs faced Oakland in the AFL Championship, and one final time for the 23-7 Super Bowl victory over the Vikings, netting my old man the better part of two grand. (Editor’s Note: Please pause 5-500 minutes to allow my HoG colleagues to chime in with the token “It wasn’t even called the Super Bowl then” and “That was before World War I” -type commentary.)

My own first real Chiefs memories, however, fall somewhere in the abyss of the 1980 season; my first Super Bowl memory being XV of that year, wherein Dick Vermeil’s Eagles lost to those pesky Raiders. The rest, as they don’t say, is a lot of pain and suffering, something I know I share with Vikings fans, having never seen my club hoist the Lombardi. Having said that, our clubs do have a lot in common, in that they typically scrimmage each other each year during training camp, almost always have lopsided outcomes to their games against one another, and have had some really good teams, but never quite good enough to win the only merchandise that matters. Given that all that is true, I really don’t know a whole lot about the Vikes, as they really haven’t been in the spotlight that much since the end of the Moss/Carter/Culpepper era. I mean, Red McCombs’s name is in the paper now and again, and the words “Denny” and “Green” always remind me of Minnesota.

Bankmeister, by the way, is a modified version of a nickname (Banky) an ex-girlfriend gave me years ago. And, yes, I am indeed a Tom Waits fan as is my colleague, Cecil. I don’t know that I could ever select one favorite Waits track; his records have been so stylistically different throughout the years. I will say that Swordfishtrombones, Frank’s Wild Years, Rain Dogs, Bone Machine and The Black Rider are among my favorite albums of his.

Viking Age: I agree with you that the Vikes and Chiefs have a lot
in common, the biggest thing being a very uncertain QB situation.
What did you think of everything that went down with the Chiefs in that regard? Did you like them dumping Trent Green (a guy I advocated the Vikings at least taking a look at)? Did they make the right decision by going with Huard to start the season? When will Brodie Croyle become the starter and what kind of future do you think that guy has? Also, do you think the Chiefs still have Steve DeBerg’s number stashed somewhere just in case? I mean, he’s only about sixty – he should still have something in the tank you’d think.

bankmeister: The one thing I know about the Chiefs right now — I’ll take the liberty of adding it to the list of commonalities with the Vikes — is that the man in charge of them is stubborn, too. Of course, that could apply to either the GM or the coach, but for this instance, I mean the coach. The QB situation here has been a very delicate one in that, since DeBerg, the Chiefs had a relatively long-term quarterback (in Green) that I really respected as an athlete and a leader. Our world was rocked pretty hard last year to watch him motionless on the turf like that for 11 minutes. From there, as a fan, you wish the best for him health-wise and hope your number two guy doesn’t stink up the joint, and clearly Huard did not, so much so, that when it appeared they’d be giving Trent the Green light, I was begging for Herm Edwards to keep Huard in the lineup as the starter. I’m convinced that the fact that he did not was a major contributor to that playoff debacle in Indianapolis.

Ultimately, his game, Cleveland performance excepted, was affected by the concussion, and, as hard as it was, I was ready to let him go. It was too bad that the scenario got so much press and forced folks on both sides to say things they probably preferred not to, but c’est la vie, right? Beyond that, there was no way in hell anyone could convince me that Croyle would be the guy for opening day. I don’t think he’ll be ready to start at all this year, in fact. Next year, assuming he gets more than mop-up duty under his belt, is a different story. I think, with a great O-line and a better-than-decent receiving corps, he has a good future in him. Speaking of route runners, I share your pain. That’s an area we’ve been shy on for decades, it feels like. I’m hoping Dwayne Bowe doesn’t turn out to be another Sylvester Morris or Marvin Minnis. And I know he won’t, but sheesh. Sometimes you start to believe in a jinx. I’m also excited about Bobby Sippio. I know he’s got great hands, but his speed is still a question.

And yeah, if all else fails, I’ve got no problem calling up the King of Play-Action. That guy was awesome.

Viking Age: I have to ask about the Larry Johnson situation. The hold-out, and now this crazy stuff with the rap where he supposedly went after Carl Peterson and Priest Holmes (which I guess has now been revealed to be a fake). Larry didn’t do a whole lot in that playoff game last year, against what was supposedly one of the worst run defenses ever, and he pretty much laid an egg the first two games this year. I’m wondering if there’s any sentiment among the Chiefs’ faithful that the team would’ve been better off trading this guy. Also, with or without Johnson playing well, does the team have any chance of making it back to the post-season this year?

bankmeister: My take on LJ is this: When properly used (and paid), Johnson possessess almost all of the assets to be as successful as Priest Holmes in terms of offensive scheming. Now, I’m also of the opinion that you must have a head coach and offensive coordinator that are intelligent/on the same page when it comes to crafting said schemes, and every game-time minute that ticks away under this regime convinces me that we do not. Take Sunday’s game against the Bears for example. Johnson nets 55 yards on 16 carries. Sixteen carries! Problem one: The offensive playcalling is trying not to seem predictable and the situation you run into there is in the trying. Just don’t be predictable. We’re running draws on third and long and passing downfield on third and one. We could’ve kept at least two drives alive (and maybe scored) if we give it to LJ on those third-and-short situations.

I don’t blame his lack of production thus far, or in the playoff game for that matter, on him. Sure, you have to take into consideration that he missed camp and might not’ve been in top game shape last week when he laid said egg, but he’s a 27-year-old, $45-million star. Give the man the ball. Regarding the rapping: It’s an unnecessary distraction; it’s taken enough time and energy to adapt to LJ the person as opposed to Priest the person that I don’t really care anymore as long as he produces — or is given the means by which to produce — he can say or rap whatever he wants. And, no. I never wanted to trade him. Not even for a second.

I could say that, based on last year, we had a shot at making the post-season after starting 0-2, but that would be preposterous. This Chiefs team has a good defense, a fledgling special teams unit, minimal offense, beyond-questionable coaching and no identity. At this point, I’ll be surprised if we even win our home opener against your Vikings. Add to that that the first simmerings of a quarterback controversy are bubbling, and who knows where we’re headed.

Viking Age: I was taken aback by how critical you just were of the Chiefs coaching staff. Those of us who don’t follow the team closely perceive Herm Edwards as a top-notch coach, but you used terms like “beyond-questionable” to describe the job he’s doing. Are Chiefs fans really that disillusioned with Edwards? Also, I thought it was funny that you ripped into the play-calling, and specifically the non-use of Mr. Johnson on short third-downs – cause that’s exactly what Viking fans are saying about our non-use of Mr. Peterson in similar situations against Detroit. Sounds to me like these two franchises are sort of in the same boat – mediocre talent in a lot of places, lack of leadership, inability to properly use the good players they do have.

bankmeister: Sounds like your week two was about as rough as mine. Regarding the upcoming matchup, though: a) I don’t think I could stomach a 10-6 dog fight. I mean, of course I’d watch, but my health would probably suffer for it. b) LJ has to get going against someone. After the Vikes come here, the Chiefs go to San Diego, then host the Jaguars (two pretty good Ds); followed by a home game against the Bengals, who based on the shootout with the Browns, taught us that they don’t play D but we’ll have to if we’re going to match their O, which means using LJ; and then we travel to Oakland. That’s half of the season. Week three, in my mind, is already too late to get him going.

And here’s the skinny (mine anyway) on the Chiefs coaching staff: The jury’s still out on whether or not Herm’s a good coach. He had some successes and some failures in New York. Ultimately, they washed their hands of him in what seemed a let’s-not-waste-any-time-here approach. Herm takes a lot of credit for the good late 90s/turn-of-the-century Tampa Bay Cover Two defense. This insults my intelligence. For four years, Herm was a defensive backs/assistant head coach for Tony Dungy. Lovie Smith was Dungy’s linebackers coach. When Herm says (and he says it a lot) “what we did in Tampa,” or some other phrasing meant to mean the same, he (obviously) includes himself in that.

My problem with that is that Herm went directly into a head coaching position with the Jets. Lovie, on the other hand, took the next logical step, that of somebody’s coordinator, and went to the Super Bowl with Mike Martz. So he gets promoted, and guess what? He takes his team to the Super Bowl. Herm did none of that, yet he’s in his second head-coaching stint. Note that in his first stint, he once clobbered Dungy’s Colts in the playoffs, yet in two years in his second stint, both Dungy and Smith have easily handled his Chiefs teams. Add to that that Herm promoted Mike Solari (a long-time offensive line coach) to offensive coordinator, and he hired former Giants Special Teams Coach Mike Priefer to man his special teams unit in KC. Solari’s and Priefer’s respective units haven’t been bad, but they haven’t been great either. Ultimately, they’re responsible for running those units in a way that mirrors how the head football coach wants the entire team run, so I hold Herm accountable for their successes, should they have any, and their failures, which they’ve certainly had.

I got no problem with the D. Gunther Cunningham is a proven DC, and Herm’s a defensive-minded coach, so how do you not succeed there? As far as the play calling, I see signs of progression on the part of Solari. This is only his second year doing it. I will, nevertheless, echo your assertion of these two teams being in the same boat.

Viking Age: We’ve established, then, that the Chiefs are struggling. Give me three things you think the team needs to do to get it turned around.

bankmeister: 1) Use LJ. A lot. He’s shown he can handle the workload, and he’s improved his pass-catching skills. The amount of carries he’s had thus far is ridiculous in comparison with the other key backs in the league that aren’t sharing carries. The Chiefs need to get him on a 30-touch-per-game pace. Period. 2) Establish a pecking order amongst the receivers. If Eddie Kennison’s going to be out much longer, it’s imperative that Dwayne Bowe, Samie Parker and Jeff Webb (Gonzalez is always Gonzalez) figure out who’s the one, the two, the three, and act it out on every single route. 3) The right side of the offensive line is our Achilles’ heel. Kyle Turley and John Welbourn have got to be better, at the very least, as good as MacIntosh and Waters on the left. Obviously, those things are all offense-related, Herm’s weakest spot. We’ve run out of time for weak spots, though. It’s do or die.

Viking Age: Let me get a prediction out of you then. How will this Sunday’s game against the Vikes turn out?

bankmeister: I still have little faith in our offense, but i’m hoping they’ll get up for the home opener. If the chiefs coaching staff can put together some semblence of intelligence for the team, and Kelly Holcomb holds the clipboard all afternoon, I’ll say Chiefs 20, Vikings 14. If either of those factors change, Minnesota takes the contest by 10.


Bankmeister likes Holcomb. So there you go.

(My half of the exchange should be appearing on House of Georges sometime in the next couple of days, unless bankmeister just decided I was full of shit and flushed it.)