Inside Slant: Chiefs Big Time from Coast to Coast

The Kansas City Chiefs spent their off week reaping the rewards of being 8-0. They liked the experience so much they returned to work this week determined to earn more of the off-field goodies that go with being the NFL's only unbeaten team at the season's midpoint.

Whether it was Dante Hall catching punts launched from the roof of Broadway's Ed Sullivan Theatre at the behest of David Letterman, or guard Brian Waters hearing sweet nothings from friends and family back home in Dallas, the Chiefs found they enjoyed the adulation that can disappear just as quickly as it arrived.

"If it wasn't for football and us being 8-0, none of us -- not Tony or Trent or me or anybody else -- would get the opportunities we got. It makes you want to come back and finish our unfinished business," said Hall, who was returning from his Letterman appearance in New York at about the time Trent Green was leaving for his Sunday appearance on "The NFL Today."

Tony Gonzalez made a similar pre-game appearance on the Fox network's "NFL Sunday" show in Los Angeles. But first Gonzalez attended a Playboy-sponsored party in L.A. and appeared on the "Best Damn Sports Show" -- the Fox Network show that sponsored a contest that included a blind date with Chiefs receiver Johnnie Morton.

Sunday's home game with 3-5 Cleveland will be the first indication of how the Chiefs have adjusted their focus from the bright TV lights to the work remaining in the second half of their season.

Judging from workouts on Monday and Wednesday, the Chiefs lost little in their bye week.

The way Waters tell it, in fact, the positive reinforcement Chiefs players got everywhere they went on their "fall break" could be a boost heading into the season's second half and the playoffs beyond that.

"Going back home and getting a lot of praise from family and friends gave us the energy to come back and finish up," Waters said.

"The people you love and respect and care about the most -- the people who are there for you through good and bad -- are saying they're proud of you. That can only energize you. You like being a small-town celebrity sometimes.

"We're more used to going home and hearing people say, 'Well, you guys are good, but you lost this and this or you need to do this or that.' There are a lot of couch coaches at home. But this time it was good to go home and have people praise what we're doing.

"Now we're motivated to come back to work. Now we're ready to make a run."

The question of focus looms important when considering that the Chiefs will face the 3-5 Browns, the 3-5 Bengals, the 2-6 Raiders and 1-7 Chargers before they play December road games at Denver on the 7th and Minnesota on the 20th.

"The mental aspect is what you worry about, not the physical," Waters said. "We're in great shape at this point, but you hope you wake up sleepy minds after being at home. Any time you break the rhythm you've been in week after week, you have to worry about the mental aspect of it. You want to get that intensity and focus back."

SERIES HISTORY: 19th meeting. The series is deadlocked at 8-8-2 after the Chiefs won in Cleveland last year in the now-famous "Mistake on the Lake" game. Kansas City leads 5-2-1 at Arrowhead, but the Browns haven't played there since 1994.


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