Of Chiefs And Flies

As an individual who appreciates science, I often engage in experiments. Most of the time, my goal is to expand mankind's knowledge and improve the quality of life for future generations. At other times, my goals are admittedly less noble.

But I figure even Albert Einstein occasionally threw an orange into a lawn mower without a working hypothesis.

So anyway, I was in my kitchen the other day, and there was this enormous housefly buzzing around my cats' food dishes. This annoyed me, in part because I paid 33 cents for that food and intended it to go to something with fewer legs and more fur, and in part because this was one of those houseflies that was so large that it called up primordial fears from a deep, instinctive part of my brain that remembers when six-inch houseflies crept into caves and sucked the fluid out of the eyeballs of sleeping cavemen.

Of course, back then they probably weren't called houseflies. Caveflies, perhaps? That would fit since men were called cavemen and…

But I digress. After watching the fly for a moment, I went over to the refrigerator and opened it, and attempted to mask my disappointment at finding only diet sodas inside. My wife is the Taliban of refrigerator stocking, but that's another digression. I reached for a can and wondered if they had flies in the Ice Age, or if they only annoyed people in warmer epochs.

Wait a minute. Fly. Refrigerator. Fly. Refrigerator. My head swiveled back to the cat dish.

This is how great ideas are born, a single lightning bolt straight to the head. If I caught the fly in a jar, and then put the jar in the fridge, would the fly go into hibernation? If so, I could save the fly for some future time when I might need a large fly, while simultaneously eliminating an annoyance on an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon.

There was too much potential here to pass up. I shut the refrigerator, cracked open a soda of disappointment, and started looking for a jar. If this worked, households all over America would soon be using my patented fly hibernator – the Flybernator! – to store their excess flies in the refrigerator. This was genius!

Now, skeptics are everywhere, and I imagine that a few of you question why one would choose to store a fly instead of just killing it. Aside from the obvious flymanitarian reasons, I will note that television was invented long before Cheers first aired, and that cheese was invented long before pizza, so sometimes you have to invent the chicken and trust that the egg will eventually follow. People scoffed at Edison when he invented the DVD carrying case, too.

But seriously, I don't want to get off track here. I'm telling a story. Back to the Flybernator®. I pondered the situation. What did I need for this research? I needed a fly with the derring-do of a Yuri Gagarin. Check. I needed a working refrigerator. Check. And I needed a jar with some breathing holes punched in the lid. I didn't have that yet, so I started rustling through the cabinets.

If a person could freeze a fly and then unfreeze it later, the world would be his oyster. On an immediate note, you could use it to annoy house guests who have overstayed their welcome, particularly those house guests who smell like manure. And in the long term, it's the first step toward building a time machine, and we all know what you can do with a time machine. If you can remove a fly from his world, stop his little fly soul for a set period of time, and then restart it in an entirely different world, then doing the same thing with a human can't be far behind.

The practical implications of such a development would be profound. Imagine a human who could leave a world where the Chiefs go 10-6 and miss the playoffs, only to re-emerge in a world where the Chiefs are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. I'm assuming that it hasn't been renamed the Bill Belichick trophy or Nick Saban trophy. Or perhaps even the Herm Edwards trophy, which would seem good at first but would actually stink because it would mean that you were frozen for too long and missed something really good.

For that matter, though, if the fly thing worked, we could freeze Mr. Edwards or someone else whose appearance on the Chiefs scene could be optimized with a change in timing. Sure, you'd need a bigger refrigerator and a bigger jar, but those are mere details. We're talking concepts here. The point is that the concept could be used to help the Chiefs. Imagine back in 2003, when Larry Johnson was staring in shock at ESPN, if Carl had been able to call and say, "Hey, Larry, we've got Priest right now, and for the next couple of years you're just going to be annoyed. So step into this jar and we'll bring you out in 2005. Trust me on this one." I think Larry would have done it if he could have seen some good test results for the fly.

Ah, wasted careers. How many careers would have been better with the Flybernator®? Imagine going to the refrigerator right now and retrieving multiple pro bowler Gary Green from his jar, and lining him up alongside Patrick Surtain? Or Art Still? Defrosting Art Still and Gary Green would really excite me about this upcoming season.

The possibilities are staggering. In 1997, we could have pulled out Joe Montana, even if he was close to his expiration date when we put him in. In 1995, we could have pulled out a kicker – any kicker, even one of those old-timers who drop-kicked and played tackle most of the time. If the Flybernator® had only been invented 20 years earlier, I bet that our beloved Chiefs would still be drafting 32nd today.

And oh! Oh! Buck Buchanan! If we could put Buck Buchanan next to Ryan Sims and Junior Siavii, you know that they would eventually become real defensive tackles, and not…Ryan Sims and Junior Siavii.

I was chasing the fly during all of these thoughts, and I more or less had him cornered. I had a peanut butter jar, and it wouldn't be long before the ball of fate would be rolled into motion.

Wait a minute, though. Buck Buchanan was a pillar of the team for more than a dozen years. He's a Hall of Famer, and he has a Super Bowl ring. Sure, his career ended on a less than stellar team, but I'm sure that he taught the new guys a few things on the way out. And Gary Green and Art Still sure made tolerating the 70's and 80's easier for me. Without them, we would've pretty much just had Gary Barbaro, and after that whole USFL thing it's not like he left a hero.

I became a fan in 1970, but it was easy to be a fan then. We were living off the fat of the land, harvesting Laniers and Bells and Dawsons and Buddes like corn in Iowa. What about the emaciated children who got their first nourishment from the 1975 team, or the 1984 team? If they didn't have the Gary Greens and the Art Stills, perhaps they would have done something drastic, like follow the old Cardinals team across the state, or perhaps even find another sport? That would be no good.

And without Art Still, maybe the team would've lost a couple more games. Maybe in 1989, we would've had the second pick in the draft, and who could've passed up a monster like Tony Mandarich? We might've had the first pick in 1988 and the second pick in 1989, and instead of Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith, we would've been lining up Aundray Bruce and Mandarich. By deep-freezing players in the 80's, we could've ruined the entire 90's. It's like that old stepping-on-the-butterfly thing, but applied to linebackers. Affecting the present, which is really the past but it would've been the present back then, could affect the future, which is really now the past, and maybe the present and possibly even the future, but back then it was just the future. That could be a disaster.

So all of this stuff made me think about the past 30 years, and how uncertain life and football really is. Would I at any point have accepted the loss of a top player in order to bring him back for a future season? Knowing that it would probably result in not seeing DT turn the corner on Andy Heck, or not seeing Rison go up for the winning touchdown against the Raiders, or not seeing Joe Montana calmly rip the tiny black heart out of Elway's chest and crush it into applesauce in front of a nationwide audience? For every alternate reality that would have put Barry Sanders and Dan Marino into the Chiefs' hands, there's probably another one that would have had us landing Blair Thomas and Ryan Leaf. Sure, I wish that Montana hadn't bounced his head off the turf in 1993, but those memories of him throwing a fourth-down touchdown pass in the playoffs, and of Keith Cash nailing the poster of Buddy Ryan are still worth wonders.

There's been no Super Bowl, and I wish there was. However, there's no guarantee that the Flybernator® would produce one. And the odds are high that it would cost me seeing Albert Lewis flying around the corner to stuff a field goal back into a kicker's face, or the Nigerian Nightmare destroying tacklers in a way that made me giggle on every handoff. While there are some possible rewards with the Flybernator®, it doesn't seem worth the risk.

The fly taunted me from his perch on the wall. Our eyes locked, my two against his hundreds. Maybe this was all a mistake, this messing around with fate and the past and possibly the future. Maybe I'm not meant to create a Super Bowl trophy by distorting the space-time fabric. And besides, I think others may already be ahead of me in this field. I bet that Disney was freezing flies in the fifties. In fact, I think I remember a cartoon about it, with some dancing hippos providing a metaphor for Walt's head rolling around in a big freezer.

Ah, heck with it. I put the jar down. Sometimes you don't mess with fate; it'll squirt you in the eye like a grapefruit at Denny's.

Grapefruit. Squirting. Grapefruit. Squirting. I looked out the back window at my lawnmower. This is how great ideas are born.

This article originally appeared in Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine. If you want more information about the only Magazine Dedicated to the Kansas City Chiefs, hit the banner below to learn how you can get 56 issues of Sports Illustrated when you order Warpaint Illustrated the magazine.


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