I’m usually on here writing analytical or persuasive pieces about football and society. This one is a purely anecdotal tale of my trip into the mayhem that was attending the NFL Draft, live in Kansas City!
I fully recommend travelling to and attending an NFL draft in a new city to anyone that enjoys football and the drama, comradery and fandom that comes with it. Or if you just enjoy the adventure of exploring a new city that you would otherwise maybe not visit. If you love both, go to one! It is quite the experience.
Some of the random happenings that my friend Tim and I encountered:
- In our ever-present side quest to find the city’s best BBQ, we found ourselves taking many a post-meal walk to regain our mobility and breathing functions. We once turned a corner searching for a corner mart and found ourselves in a very obvious and proud Latino neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas — across the state line. A random store clerk popped out of nowhere while we stocked up on water, just so he could talk that trash to us while we were clad in our Seahawk colors. Guess we’re in Kansas now, Toto!
- Towards the middle of the first round, we decided to leave the throng of the actual draft area to watch the rest at a local watering hole. As we saddled up at a local margarita restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri more and more people started filling the place to the brim with noise and color. See below for one of the characters I met (I will finish the story below)…
- …At this point I’m people watching but also draft watching. All of a sudden, a man with a tiny yellow shopping cart full of ice bags bursts in. He yells some inaudible female name. The bartender swings into the picture, wearing a shirt clearly intended to show off her unreasonable proportions. The small-cart-pushing hombre starts tossing bags into the air, and she is catching the bags with one hand with no hesitation, even between the nervous heads of people sitting at the bar. As soon as he threw the last bag, almost on cue, a train outside blared its horn HELLA loud. It was an unbelievably zany moment in time that I could barely keep up with and process while trying to compare my mock draft to the real results.
- The reactions to my buddy Tim as we walked around were gold. He’s a crazy tall Nigerian man with a friendly smile, and a face that never conceals his emotions. I once pointed us to the wrong entrance of the draft, and I had both of us walking, huffing and puffing in silence. When we finally stop at the top of a god-forsaken hill, a girl looked at him and said, “ohhh you look tiiiired” 🤣 he and I just busted up laughing. A change of pace after a slightly tense search for how to get into the actual draft. Another time someone called out to him repeatedly with clenched hands, yelling and calling him Geno over and over… but tell me why Tim took offense to this one 😭 the confidence of this man to take offense to being compared to an NFL quarterback!
- Tim stole a guy’s bird ride after the guy almost took Tim’s bird scooter before he could reserve it. I will not be elaborating, but let’s just say I took the other guy’s side. Maybe I feel a little bad… not bad enough to not laugh about it.
- Speaking of scooting, we unwittingly met Paris Johnson Jr. and his family while buzzed-birding (TM) downtown. I did make a proclamation to him and his family as we passed: “We’re division rivals, but I’ll say congratulations only tonight”! They laughed and when they realized we were Seahawks fans they reminded us that our squad drafted his former college teammate: Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Excited to see that boy do his thing.
- We attended a music festival called Kelce Jam Headlined by Rick Ross, Tech N9ne and MGK. This was a little way outside of downtown and overrun with KC Chiefs fans. We met a drunk dude who was ON ONE and wouldn’t stop talking to us during the concert, with his gf that was f***ing over it lol. We left them to get closer to the stage, then met another faded individual with whom Tim accidentally almost facilitated a fight between him and the security guard. He kept calling the guard soft for doing his job lolllll. Then, out of nowhere, the first drunk talker (you know the type) materialized and found us again to offer us some of his hand rolled joint. Our two rowdy and slightly annoyingly social ravers met and started belligerently yelling ideas at each other. These two dudes were the perfect counterbalance to each other!! 😂 we didn’t have to worry anymore as we looked at each other laughing with the same thought as we slowly slipped back into the crowd.
- While standing in line at another place that sold us ridiculously flavorful burnt ends we met family friends of Kentucky QB (and eventual 2nd-round pick), Will Levis. This father-son duo were actually sporting Patriots jerseys and had spent thousands on VIP passes close to the stage to see him get drafted. When he wasn’t taken in the 1st-round, he left Kansas City to go back home instead of sticking around. The family friends were very disappointed in that decision.
- I did make my way to a few jazz lounges while in KC, but sadly, I did not find Will Ferrell in any of them…
- I absolutely dominated this group of frat bros in Super Smash Brothers at this poppin’ downtown bar. Yes, this bar had a Nintendo 64 set up on a projector. I’m happy to report that there are some things that Gen-Z still can’t touch us in, my fellow millennials!! 😤 I was Star Fox 🦊 so call it what you want… I called game. They eventually asked the bartender to switch to Mario Kart.
- My overwhelming takeaway was that EVERYBODY, no matter what background, had a pure excitement to enjoy the time there, interact and share knowledge/laughs/predictions. It felt like a lot of the social walls we are used to in our society evaporated there, being replaced by the jubilation of schoolkids on a field trip. Or of college kids on campus for the first time; ready to meet anyone and try anything new with a smile. It’s one of those events that remind you that sports unites a lot of different kinds of people.
This was my 3rd consecutive year traveling to the NFL draft. I had a blast. The draft in Cleveland showed off the large and loyal Browns fan contingent. I didn’t see as heavy of a favoring of Raiders jerseys when I went to the draft in Vegas. In Kansas City, the flood of red jerseys all around town, along with all the good vibes those fans gave us had me realized that we really might be in the height of Chiefs fandom in America.
We may be witnessing the birth of a legitimate Chiefs dynasty. It was iffy before, but c’mon. Two titles, while appearing in 3 Super Bowls in a 4-year span. They have been to the AFC ‘ship 4 years in a row. Patrick Mahomes has the impregnable accolades. It will be fascinating to see how long their reign lasts when compared to other dynasties (the most recent being in New England).
The Seahawks were on the verge of one with the Re-Pete back-to-back titles; which was nullified by a highly improbable and notorious interception on the 2-yard line that is still painful to think about. KC did what Seattle could not. It now seems that Mahomes is chasing Brady in a similar fashion to the way that LeBron has chased MJ his entire career. Let’s appreciate the unique talent and the dawn of a new power in the NFL.
With 2 MVP’s, 2 NFL Titles and 2 Super Bowl MVP’s, Patrick has a resume that rivals many of the QB greats already. The Chiefs will need to earn it moving forward, as the NFL’s crucible (salary cap, free agency, the draft, staff hirings) seeks to level the playing field each and every offseason. Joe Burrow and The Bengals may be Manning’s Colts as rival to Mahomes’ Patriots impression. That would make Josh Allen’s Bills the Roethlisberger-era Steelers. Count on Smith’s Seahawks to play the part of Eli Manning’s Giants in February 2025 😈