Abner, Bobby, Len, & me...50 yrs., where have they gone?
As many of you already know, my dad became a Chiefs fan in 1963 upon their arrival to Kansas City from Dallas. I was 7 yrs. old in 1963, so I was raised a Chiefs fan, along with my two younger brothers. I literally don't remember a life without the Chiefs being a part of it.
I grew up with legendary Hall of Fame players such as Abner Haynes, Bobby Bell, and Len Dawson, three of my dad's favorite Chiefs players. Though my roots are from Kansas, I grew up mostly on the West Coast, so my dad, myself and brothers, didn't have the opportunity to attend Chiefs games and events. We moved back to Kansas the summer of 1970. Earlier that year the Chiefs won SB IV on January 11th. We watched SB IV on TV living at the time in L.A.. I was a kid, so don't remember much about the game, but do remember my dad's excitement when our Chiefs won.
As an adult making my home in Kansas, I had the opportunity once in a while to attend a Chiefs game or event, like Draft Day at Arrowhead. My dad and brother, Ricky, did not, as they continued living out West. My dad passed in 1994. I brought him to Kansas so I could care for him his last two months of life, but he was too sick to attend a Chiefs game.
In 2007 my brother was diagnosed with kidney disease and also needed a caretaker. He came close a couple times in life, but never married and had no kids. I was the sibling he was closest to, so he came to live with me in Kansas Fall of 2007. He told me one of the first things he wanted to do once living with me was to attend a Chiefs game at Arrowhead.
My brothers birthday was in November, so for his birthday I bought us tickets to a Chiefs game. It was November 4th, 2007 we played the Packers. Brett Favre was my brothers favorite QB, and mine as well, so we were able to see Brett play at Arrowhead prior to his retiring. The Chiefs lost the game, but the memories we made that day are cherished and priceless. Little did I know that game would be my brothers first and last experience attending a Chiefs game at Arrowhead. I lost my brother on February 8th, 2008. I was with him in his ICU room when he had his code blue and left our earthly presence.
I read of so many Chiefs fans currently, who are boycotting the games because the Chiefs are losing. I think to myself...what if I had done that back when my brother was alive, and we had not attended the one game he would ever attend? I wouldn't have those cherished game memories with my brother. I just can't imagine making a point over losing being worthy of sacrificing such memories, but to each their own life priorities.
I raised my kids to be Chiefs fans, and grandkids now, also. I have cherished memories attending a few games with my son, and also my grandsons. I took my grandson Mikey, to his first Chiefs game in 2010. He told me and everyone he could, that his first game experience at Arrowhead was the best birthday he had ever had, hahaha.
I took my grandson Brennen, to his first Chiefs game in 2006. We won the game in the last seconds with a record long FG kick by Tynes. The crowd noise was deafening! My grandson covered his ears and looked up at me with a smile and said, "OH MY GAWD NANA, IT'S SO LOUD! DID WE WIN?!" He was 8 years old, so couldn't see over those standing in front of him, that we had made the unexpected winning FG, hahaha.
I have so many awesome cherished memories as a Chiefs fan attending games and events, that I could literally fill a novel with memory stories held within my heart. This past Sunday I created more cherished memories while attending the game and Alumni Weekend at Arrowhead. One memory in particular was a memory of a lifetime for me as a Chiefs fan.
With the evolution of Facebook I had become Facebook friends with Abner Haynes and interacted with him once in a while. Although I've met many Chiefs players over the years, I had never had the honor of meeting Abner. After the game on Sunday, I was walking out of the stadium when I noticed a crowd of fans gather around a gentleman asking for his autograph. As I walked closer I recognized him as Abner Haynes. I politely waited hoping at some point I would have an opportunity to introduce myself as one of his Facebook friends.
Abner has thousands of Facebook friends, so I didn't expect him to know me personally by name. When I introduced myself to Abner as, "Connie Jo from Facebook", I was overwhelmed by Abner's response. A big smile came across his face and he loudly with excitement said, "Connie Jo! I was telling Mr. Hunt today that two people I wanted to find and meet were Connie Jo and Deb from Facebook!" We gave each other a big hug and then he said, "what about Deb, is Deb with you?"
Deb is a good friend of mine, also active on Facebook related to the Chiefs. I told Abner that I had been with Deb earlier, but wasn't sure where she was after the game. About that time I glanced to see Deb standing not far away. I said to Abner, "well, there she is, there's Deb right there!" Deb heard me and came over. Abner then told Deb the same thing he had told me with much excitement in his voice, "I kept telling Mr. Hunt I wanted to find you and Connie Jo, that you were two people I had to find and meet while I was here!"
We chatted for a bit, but Abner needed to catch a plane back to Dallas where he lives. We took our photo together, then we said our goodbye's with hugs. I walked away in awe that Abner Haynes, a football hero and HOF legend, was so excited to meet 'me'...'me', a simple Chiefs fan. He made me feel so special and honored as a fan and person, yet I can assure you I was more than honored to meet him after a lifetime of knowing him by name.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to also attend the Chiefs 50th Anniversary Tour featuring Bobby Bell and Len Dawson. Years ago when my kids were young we had met Bobby while dining at his BBQ restaurant in KC, but didn't have a photograph opportunity with him at that time. I had also met Len once before at a signing event in 2006, and do have a photo of Len and I from that event. Having the opportunity to have my photo taken with Bobby and Len at the same time was priceless. They're two HOF legends I've been familiar with since childhood.
Being a Chiefs fan for me is much deeper than wins or losses, it's much more than just a game. For me being a Chiefs fan is a way of life, a lifestyle. After it became necessary for me to divorce in early 2009, in an effort to rebuild my life I sold my home in Kansas and moved to Kansas City. I became a Chiefs season ticket holder as well. I'm very grateful for the life my buddy above has blessed me with. Being a Chiefs fan is a blessing in itself, as are the lifetime memories created among family and friends attending Chiefs games and events.
The Chiefs are celebrating 50 years in Kansas City this season, and I've been blessed to experience those 50 years as a Chiefs fan in many ways. I hope my dad, and my brother Ricky, are smiling down from Heaven as they witness my blessings occur as a Chiefs fan. I hope in spirit they're able to share in my experience's as a Chiefs fan, since they didn't have the same opportunities as a fan that I've been blessed with. I know my dad would have been thrilled to meet Abner, Bobby, and Len, three favorite players during his era, HOF legends during mine.