The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t playing exactly as well as we all thought they would. Through seven weeks, the reigning AFC champions are 3-4, tied for last place in their division, and just not looking like the Chiefs we’ve come to know, love, and/or root against in recent years. Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes has already thrown more interceptions than he did throughout the entirety of 2019 or 2020. The defense has more holes than a Swiss charcuterie board, and 2020 1st-round halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on Injured Reserve.
Chiefs fans have become accustomed to greatness after witnessing their team reach three straight AFC Championships and two straight Super Bowls. So, as you can imagine, the fans haven’t exactly been understanding of their team’s early season struggles.
The Chiefs’ SB Nation site, Arrowhead Pride, published an article (since removed from the site) written by a disgruntled “fan”, that simply bashes the Chiefs in every way imaginable.
The piece mocked Mahomes for not caring about football anymore since he got that huge contract extension. It mocked Andy Reid for supposedly using the exact same playbook the Chiefs have run since 2019. It mocked the Chiefs’ front office for dumping too much money into just a few players, making it impossible to build a well-rounded roster. Funny, it didn’t seem to be a big problem when Mahomes signed that extension. Only when the team is struggling do all the mole people come out of the ground to talk about how bad that contract was for the team.
That article is just the tip of the iceberg though. Several Kansas City fans have taken to Twitter, fan forums, or online blog posts to express their discontent with their team’s performance thus far. These toxic fans have gone after the players, coaches, and front office alike, and a few Chiefs players have taken notice.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Anthony Hitchens have both been on the Chiefs’ roster for a few years now. Neither has been part of a bad Chiefs team. They know how good the team has been and they are fed up with the fans giving up all hope and calling for a full rebuild as soon as they see the first sign of trouble.
Are they right, though? Are Chiefs fans really that toxic? Well, yes… and no.
While Mathieu and Hitchens are correct that their fans need to chill out and appreciate all the good that the team has done in recent years, the Chiefs’ fandom isn’t nearly as toxic as many other NFL fanbases. Sure, as a collective whole, they might not be as great as the Bills Mafia or Cleveland Browns fans, but that’s to be expected. When a team is as bad for as many years as the Bills and Browns were before Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield showed up, they tend to build up a great core of solid fans who stick with their teams until the bitter end. However, as the Chiefs have been the best, most exciting team in the league for a few years now, they’ve attracted some bandwagoners. These “fans” will get angry at the smallest transaction and most minor bump in the road during a season. They will freak out every time the team loses and drop the team at the first sign of trouble, because that’s how they’ve always operated.
That’s the cycle of fandoms.
1) Play great.
2) Obtain toxic fans.
3) Fall off.
4) Maintain your loyal fans.
6) Repeat steps 1-6.
This isn’t just unique to the Chiefs, and you’d think Mathieu and Hitchens would realize that.
That being said, Chiefs fans do in fact need to relax. It’s not like they’re 1-6 or playing as poorly as the Jets, Jags, or Texans. They’re 3-4. They’re two games out of first-place in their division with half the season still to go. While the remainder of their schedule certainly isn’t easy by any means (GB, @LV, DAL, LV, @LAC, @CIN), that just gives the Chiefs more opportunities to sort out their issues.
The Chiefs have four losses, each to a team widely regarded as a contender in the AFC. Obviously, the defense has been an issue and fans are right to be upset that the team is spending so much on defense — inside the top-ten in spending at the start of the season at the DE, DT, and S positions — only for them to give up 29 points per game. And yes, I know Mahomes has looked too loose on the field and his decision-making has been suspect, but it’s Patrick Mahomes! This is the man who knocked your franchise off the treadmill of mediocrity with Alex Smith. This is the guy that every team and fanbase, and I mean EVERY TEAM AND EVERY FANBASE, would at least consider ditching their starting quarterback for. He came back from down 24 to Houston in the playoffs. He went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady in the playoffs his first season as a starter. Now, look how you have this man feeling.
He’s done. The man has lost the will to go on. Look at him! The man plays mediocre football for half a season and you turn on him? Stop!
I’m not saying Patrick Mahomes is above criticism. He’s not, but giving up on him is pulling the trigger way too early. If you really want to ditch Patrick Mahomes for not showing enough “passion” for the game, then by all means, let him go. I’m sure every other fan base would love to have him.
Mathieu and Hitchens should not have gone after their fans. Mathieu has even publicly rescinded his comments.
“I shouldn’t have used those choices of words. I think I’m man enough to admit that and really own that. So, just look forward to playing better, doing better and I think, most importantly, not being a distraction to my team.”
Frustration gets the best of us sometimes, and for someone as famously competitive as Mathieu, you can imagine how upset he probably is at his team’s performance. Contrary to what his nickname would lead you to believe, Honey Badger absolutely does give a shit. The comments he made were wrong. Kansas City is well-regarded as one of the best fanbases in the NFL. They’ve routinely asked the Chiefs to extend Mathieu and everybody else who has made an impact on the team. The actions of a few do not dictate just how solid the Chiefs fans are and have been. Mathieu knows this. That’s why he apologized, and I’m sure he’s ready to play his heart out this Sunday to show just how much he cares.