The NFL Spring - A Time For Wishful Thinking

After a long, cold winter, the sun is out, and the fun is just about ready to return. The weeks before free agency and the NFL Draft are by far the most exciting for any fan, especially for a team looking for redemption such as the Chiefs.

It's the time when Chiefs fans dream of seeing their favorite players come to Kansas City. They check the internet for the newest, exciting acquisitions. There's nothing like seeing a player you respect who previously played for another team holding up a red and gold jersey at a press conference. That feeling may only be rivaled by your favorite college player's name being called by Roger Goodell in the first round.

Spring – it's when Chiefs fans can start to dream again. It's not just a time for the cold of winter to dissipate, or the bitter thoughts of another losing season to become distant memory. Rather, it's a time to rejoice over what can happen.

It happens every year. In the coming months, we'll claim that "this is the year," or that the Chiefs will cruise to a winning record. Objectivity won't ruin the pride we have in our team. The long, cold winter is about to end come March and April.

That's certainly the case with the Chiefs' new regime. There's plenty of excitement heading into Todd Haley and Scott Pioli's second offseason. That elusive winning season and playoff run is within reach of any optimistic Chiefs fan, but once again, we're kept waiting. While we wait, we start to daydream about Clark Hunt raising the Lombardi Trophy, and a victory parade held in a distant year.

No matter how high we set our expectations, we'll never get exactly what we want, at least not in the short term. The free agents you expect to become Chiefs will inevitably head other directions, and your favorite collegiate prospects will be gone before the Chiefs are on the clock. Then the media will pick the Chiefs to finish with another losing record, or perhaps you'll lose a debate with a friend over who will win the AFC West. Things never go according to plan.

The offseason riles us up, and no matter how much attention is put on the Royals in spring training, we'd rather hear Chiefs news. Even though there aren't any games or practices, it's without a doubt the busiest and most exciting time of the year for any football fan. It makes fans consider outrageous scenarios. Even ESPN's Bill Williamson joined in on the fun by practically declaring Branden Albert a right tackle last month, probably before Albert and the Chiefs' staff had even seriously considered it.

There's plenty of wishful thinking this time of year, and my hopes are just as high as yours. We all have players on top of our list for hopeful new Chiefs, and we all debate who is worth the risk and who is not. One day, left tackle Russell Okung might feel like the safest pick. Later, safety Eric Berry might seem more attractive after watching a highlight film. Then there are the days where we wonder if Julius Peppers is worth the risk, or if a rookie pass rusher would be more suitable over the long term.

What makes this process the most enjoyable is the search for sleeper picks and signings. There's plenty of talk about drafting an offensive tackle, and there's no shortage of fans who want to see Matt Cassel replaced by another quarterback.

But if you ask me, Toby Gerhart, Stanford's bruising running back, tops my offseason wish list. He's not a big, flashy name, doesn't have blinding speed, and you won't see him taken in the first round of the draft this year. But wouldn't you love to see the Chiefs find a hard-working, tough running back to pair with Jamaal Charles? If Gerhart makes it in the pros, he'll be a great story.

But hey, that's just me dreaming again. Either way, I hereby declare the establishment of the Toby Gerhart Fan Club in Kansas City.

Despite our hopes, we have to look at this time of year realistically. Any player linked with Haley, Pioli, Charlie Weis, or Romeo Crennel is most likely going to get the first look in the coming weeks. If a player has the Cardinals, Patriots, Browns, or Notre Dame Fighting Irish on their resume, they'll draw serious consideration.

But it won't stop me from quietly hoping for the Chiefs to pursue the players on my own personal wish list. And you'll do the same thing. No matter how unrealistic our expectations may be, it's fun to dream. It's what makes the spring the most exciting time of the year. Top Stories