CLAYMAN'S CORNER: Chiefly Updates

Oh, right! That's what being a pro football fan is all about! Thank you Chiefs for reminding me. Even if it did have to come my way via Fox Radio and Sean Farnham. Through the mountains. The snow and ice. The red-rocked passes. The silhouetted mesas and the endless desert.

Not to mention the endless promotions. The sports-speak phraseology and the power-line, local station-tower static.

Gotten it by now? Not only was I on the road during the Chiefs exclamatory win over the three-time world champs, but, I'm sorry to say, I was Sirius-less. Which left me with the archaic station-by-station search for the broadcast.

It had been a Saturday night game in Logan, Utah. Basketball, that is. My two Division III sons playing against Division I Utah State in the Aggies' home opener. My younger son – the 6-9 17 year-old high-schooler – was with me. It had been a great night. The two of us, the only fans of the boys' squad, against 6,500 for Utah St. Just like the team, although utterly outmanned, we hung in there and never gave up.

It felt like the way it will be for the Chiefs the next five weeks. Mostly teams which seem to have more talent facing one which has more heart. I'll take the heart.

Peering out the hotel room window at 5:30 the next morning, the world of Logan was a wonderland. Unfortunately, a winter one. Everything was blanketed by snow. I could almost hear my Southern California car weeping in disbelief. "I don't know what this stuff is, but I'm freezing to death! And don't you dare try to drive me through all that!"

But drive we did. Getting out at 7:00, we stopped at a local store and bought every Sunday newspaper available (there was a single picture of the basketball game in each of the Logan and Salt Lake City sports sections. One featured my son, one my stepson. Hey, that's what a dad lives for.)

On through the first of several passes. My shivering car let me know that it was 17 degrees outside. My son asked me if I'd ever spent a Christmas which looked like the frozen ranches all around us. I told him that in SoCal you have to find analogies. Like, it gets cold at the beach and the sand is kind of like snow.

On the I-15 towards Salt Lake City the first alert of Black Ice flashed by the roadside. By this time, my son was in the back, fast asleep. My goal was twofold – don't wake him up, but get him home in time for school the next day. Alive.

At 8:00 (L.A. time), I adjusted the radio to the front speakers and began searching for a channel which might carry Chiefs-Patriots. I felt reasonably good about it – after all, the Chiefs are an exciting bunch in anybody's book and the Pats, well, there must be a nationwide audience for Threepeaters.

It was a good thought, anyway.

Traveling as fast as the snow and ice would permit, I tuned through stations featuring country music, Sunday morning sermons, conservative talk and oldies. By the time I could see the Mormon Temple under construction in downtown Salt Lake, I'd landed on Fox's morning NFL show.

The hot topics were Mariucci's imminent demise at Detroit, will the Texans get Reggie Bush and the Eagles' filing tampering charges against Jerry Jones and the Cowboys over Mr. Owens. See, gossip isn't just for the ladies who watch E!, A&E Biographies and Desperate Housepeople.

The consensus was that the same guys who earlier in the week had been panting that Mariucci was gone by Friday had really known all along that "the Ford family doesn't fire coaches easily." That it was Matt Millen's team and he and Mariucci simply were trying to find a balance. That there was no sense in firing him at this point of the season.

As we know now, once again, the experts were right on.

With Provo and BYU whizzing past, I realized there weren't many stories in the world of Fox Pre-Game. Or else the guys were really, really, really in love with the ones that they were spinning. Because the next two hours was like a full night of Sports Center. The same tales told the same way over and over ad nauseum.

Well, with the difficulties of navigating through the icy, salty mud sprayed up by trucks and peering through my frozen windshield, I didn't have the luxury of nausea. And by the time I reached Beaver, Howie, Jimmy and Terry had giggled their way onto the air.

That's their job, you know. Not to be smart or insightful or prescient about the NFL. Just to laugh. At anything. All the time. It's enough to make you boycott Radio Shack. Except when you do, indeed, find yourself smiling along. Like an idiot. Even with a windshield that's like trying to see through a fudgsicle.

As we headed into the pass to St. George, it was time for the kickoffs. And here was Sean Farnham. Sean was supposedly paired with "All-Pro Cornerback Todd Lyght." Todd was introduced as an expert. Sean was introduced as, well, Sean. Now, I remember Farnham as a seldom-used UCLA basketball player. One day, he appeared on our local Fox Southern California Sports Report doing high school coverage.

He still does it, every week. Which I suppose qualifies him to cover the entire NFL for guys driving around with a Dark Ages AM radio. Although nervous on the national stage, Farnham is quickly developing that Fox voice. Energetic, quick, glib. And he's saying all the in sportscaster stuff, you know, like "in the house" or "swimmin' with the jellies" (wait, that last one was from "Finding Nemo." Well, you get the idea).

Nothing against Farnham, but I tried every other frequency, one at a time. I found a fuzzy Redskins-Chargers game. A barely intelligible Bears-Bucs. But no Chiefs.

So Fox was it. Tuning back, I heard about Green's strike to Kennison and Larry Johnson's subsequent touchdown. Which warmed things up considerably. It was around St. George that I was updated with Wesley's first interception. I knew, however, that strong Chief starts and weak Patriot ones had been the order of the season.

Cruising into Arizona, Tynes kicked his initial field goal. After the Buffalo debacle, I was just glad he seemed back in rhythm. In the desert canyons, with the temperature finally starting to rise, it was one more Tynes shot. 13-0. Even in another world, it was strikingly familiar. Strong defense. Great kicking game. An inability to punch it in consistently from the red zone since losing Holmes.

Still, a nice lead. Even when, as the snow started to melt from my car's bumper and the windshield washers finally defrosted allowing me to actually see where I was going, the Pats got on the board with 3 of their own. As we headed down into the Arizona desert, we could barely make out through the static that Tynes had hit two more threes before the half. I'll say he's back.

By the time we passed the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, Nevada, where you can get a 1-pound ham steak and eggs for $3.99, which becomes $23.99 when you play Keno at your table, Green had nailed Hall with a 52-yarder. While wondering why Dante wasn't used to stretch out the defense more often, a 26-3 lead seemed insurmountable.

As we caught sight of Las Vegas, we lost the signal entirely. Amazingly, there wasn't a single station in that land of Sports Books which carried either Fox or ESPN updates. The last flickering sounds from Farnham were that the Pats had scored a TD and missed the two-pointer. With five minutes to go, there was every reason to be confident.

Hey, with five games to go, safely back at home, there's every reason to feel the same way.

This is the twelfth in a season-long series chronicling a Los Angeles native and lifelong sports follower's mission to become a Chiefs fan. After all, he doesn't have a football team of his own, does he? Richard Clayman may be contacted at rjclayman1@yahoo.com

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