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Rain Man
12-07-2008, 02:45 PM
I went Christmas shopping yesterday, and wandered through a nondescript mall in the 'burbs. Little did I know what awaited me.

I had just rounded "Avenue 2" past the Chinese foot massage place and the Borders bookstore when I saw it. Up ahead, on the right, there was a little crowd of people. It piqued my curiosity, so as I walked toward it, I kept on eye on what was happening.

There were two men sitting at a table. I saw a football being autographed. Eh, probably some Bronco scrub signing some autographs. I looked up and saw that it was a sports memorabilia store. Yup, that's it.

I walked by the table, and looked to see if I recognized anyone. They were older guys, and they were...

Holy Christmas Day! That's Jan Stenerud!

Jan Stenerud! The Norwegian Montana State grad who ruled the Chiefs' kicking game for over a decade! Who kicked the only field goals a Chief has ever kicked in a winning Super Bowl! Jan Stenerud!

I looked at the other guy.

No way.

No freaking way.

Len Dawson.

MVP of Super Bowl IV. Lenny the Cool. The only career Chief on offense in the Hall of Fame. Len Dawson!

Two Chiefs Hall of Famers in a suburban Denver mall. That's like walking in the woods and happening upon a Springsteen concert with topless Playboy models dancing in the mosh pit. It was beyond shock. It was a stunning discovery. It was like what nuns must feel like when they see the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.

I wanted to run up there like a giddy schoolgirl, but there was a line of autograph seekers and some staffers who were providing ersatz security. I stood there in the aisle of the mall soaking in the radiant aura of their greatness, wondering what to do next.

Should I buy something? Should I go through the autograph line to say hi to the men involved in every Super Bowl point the Chiefs ever scored? What would I say? Could I even talk? Would I freeze up?

I could certainly say 65 Toss Power Trap or something, but then again they've probably heard that a thousand times. I could tell them where I was on Christmas Day 1971, how I fought the greatest battle of my life to keep my parents at my uncle's house so I could watch double-overtime, but Jan might not like that, or Len either. I could possibly talk about the current Chiefs, but then they would just nod and sigh and smile and I'd be just another person in the line.

I wasn't just another person in the line. Those people were filing through like automatons, getting their stuff autographed so they could sell it on Ebay. Those people didn't cry on Christmas Day of 1971. Those people didn't pretend to be Jim Lynch and Otis Taylor and yes, Jan Stenerud, on the playground throughout their youth. They just wanted signatures.

I didn't want a signature. I didn't care about getting a signature. I just wanted to go up to those guys and tell them how they changed my life, how their feats germinated a hobby and a love that 40 years later is still one of my greatest passions in life. I wanted to tell them how I differentiated good from evil by watching them battle the Raiders. How my best memories of youth were in pickup football games emulating them. How I could get accepted in every new school I moved to because I spoke the language of Dawson and Lanier and Buchanan, and no one picked on the new kid if he could talk Chiefs and catch a short out pass.

I didn't think I could do it. I walked away, my mind swimming, back to the Sbarro at the food court, and thought about my next step. Do I go to them? Do I tell them that? They're just a couple of guys now, older guys who look more like my dad than Hall of Fame professional football players. They would probably appreciate hearing from a fan who cared so much about them, as opposed to the line of businessmen getting their $20 Ebay items.

I went back. They were still signing. The line had gone away, and they were both signing photographs in preparation for other visitors. I stood around and loitered. I pretended to look at the signboard announcing their presence. I watched them out of the corner of my eye.

As stupid as it sounds, I realized that I would probably choke up if I told them what I wanted to tell them, how much they meant to me. These were not just football players. They were the gods of my childhood, the men who molded my attitudes and life even though they never met me, and I never met them.

I stood there and watched them for a moment, two senior citizens signing 40 year-old pictures of past glories. I'm a lot bigger now, and they're a little smaller, but in that mall yesterday I decided that I don't want to approach them as equals. I want to always be a kid around them, and I want them to always be the red-clad heroes who vanquish Raiders and Vikings. I don't want to add another chapter to that story.

I turned and left.

blueballs
12-07-2008, 02:50 PM
you're Really JoPo
aren't you

mylittlepony
12-07-2008, 02:50 PM
Did you write that? If so :clap:

Marcellus
12-07-2008, 02:51 PM
:clap::clap:

KChiefs1
12-07-2008, 02:53 PM
I loved reading that....I've felt the same way many times when I've run into Bobby Bell, Otis Taylor & Lenny in different situations.

How do you tell the guys who you absolutely loved as a kid how you feel about them without looking like a total idiot?

nice read.

EyePod
12-07-2008, 02:53 PM
Good Story!

Goldmember
12-07-2008, 02:55 PM
I laughed when I read your post because those would be the exact thoughts I would have if it were me and I was confronted with that situation. And I also probably would have walked away. Glory days...God that was like another lifetime

Donger
12-07-2008, 02:56 PM
I was friends with Jan's son in grade school. Of course, I has no idea who his father was until he told me.

Skip Towne
12-07-2008, 04:29 PM
No Podolak? Doesn't he live in Denver?

Ultra Peanut
12-07-2008, 04:39 PM
You wuss.

Zebedee DuBois
12-07-2008, 04:41 PM
Now, how about telling us about your brushes with immorality?

Psyko Tek
12-07-2008, 04:43 PM
the memories are always better

Mr. Flopnuts
12-07-2008, 06:01 PM
That was quality.

mikey23545
12-07-2008, 06:37 PM
Fantastic post, Mr. Rainman....It's not often I get the urge to save a poster's prose, but you just took everything I would have felt in that situation and laid it to paper.

By the way...I cried that Christmas too....

Dartgod
12-07-2008, 06:54 PM
R E P O S T!!!

JuicesFlowing
12-07-2008, 07:12 PM
That was awesome Rain Man. You did the right thing, too. I'm glad that I can listen to Lenny the Cool each Sunday. Even though I was born 7 years after the Chiefs only Super Bowl, I still appreciate Dawson and Chiefs history. Great story ... Well written.

RJ
12-07-2008, 07:22 PM
Rainman, that was beautiful. You know I feel you dude.

cdcox
12-07-2008, 07:26 PM
In the months following the Chiefs SB win, Len Dawson was the speaker at some dinner near where we lived in NY state. My dad took me. I got him to sign my Len Dawson poster at the end of the dinner. I was in awe.

Went on a tour of Arrowhead when it first opened. Buck Buchanan was there. Huge, huge man.

A couple years later I got an autographed photo of the coolest guy in the world: Otis Taylor. Still have that one downstairs.

Back when the Chiefs held training camp at William Jewel, we'd occasionally go up and watch a practice session. In those days, there were only a couple of hundred people watching. When the players came off the field, they had to walk through the crowd and you could get autographs from the players as they came off.

Very cool when you are a kid to have heroes. Just not the same after you grow up.

StcChief
12-07-2008, 08:01 PM
Rainman.... tough to talk to them. I met Lenny the cool at Arrowhead once, just told him he did a great job for Chiefs as player, announcer and HBO.
Didn't want an autograph or anything. Just to thank him.

Brock
12-07-2008, 08:03 PM
Meadowlark Lemon was an asshole when I got his autograph.

thurman merman
12-07-2008, 08:06 PM
i want to watch the chiefs win a super bowl!

or at least a playoff game!

Darien25
12-07-2008, 08:54 PM
I had an old Neil Smith and Len Dawson jersey and I got them both signed. Len seemed to be in a pretty good mood and smiled at me as I walked up. After he signed my jersey he reached up to shake my hand and asked me how I was doing. I've met him several times and he's always been very personable.

Ari Chi3fs
12-07-2008, 09:07 PM
Funny thing, if you had walked up to them and told them that you are Rain Man of Chiefsplanet fame, they may have wanted YOUR autograph.

Bearcat
12-07-2008, 09:10 PM
:clap:

It was beyond shock. It was a stunning discovery. It was like what nuns must feel like when they see the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.


Quality. LMAO

Ebolapox
12-07-2008, 09:55 PM
and this is why rainman is the best poster on this site.

I missed out on the chance to meet buck buchannan when I was a kid. he was signing autographs at smitty's, and my dad and uncle went to the store and (for once) didn't take me. still ticks me off to this day

got to meet marcus allen at one of my dad's work functions when I was younger though--right after he'd retired. that was cool as hell.

Cornstock
12-07-2008, 10:40 PM
I didn't tear up a little bit when i read that...

Halfcan
12-07-2008, 10:48 PM
nice story-those guys are the best.

stevieray
12-07-2008, 10:51 PM
a brush would have been conversing with them...this is more like rubbernecking with immortality...if you didn't want to say anything, I understand, but you could've at least had your pic taken with two Chief HOF players...that's pretty rare...

Cornstock
12-07-2008, 10:56 PM
a brush would have been conversing with them...this is more like rubbernecking with immortality...if you didn't want to say anything, I understand, but you could've at least had your pic taken with two Chief HOF players...that's pretty rare...

Disagree. He's preserving a sentimental memory/memories from his childhood, which is priceless. How many times have you hear of people meeting their idols only to find out their grade A jackasses. Of course there is no danger of that with these two first class gentleman, but leaving them just as they are in his mind was obviously something he wanted to keep.

stevieray
12-07-2008, 10:59 PM
Disagree. He's preserving a sentimental memory/memories from his childhood, which is priceless. How many times have you hear of people meeting their idols only to find out their grade A jackasses. Of course there is no danger of that with these two first class gentleman, but leaving them just as they are in his mind was obviously something he wanted to keep.

IMO, getting a pic doesn't diminish the memories.it brings them full circle...

J Diddy
12-08-2008, 01:22 AM
IMO, getting a pic doesn't diminish the memories.it brings them full circle...


that's your opinion, his being the only one that mattered in this situation

Darth CarlSatan
12-08-2008, 02:27 AM
I loved reading that....I've felt the same way many times when I've run into Bobby Bell, Otis Taylor & Lenny in different situations.

How do you tell the guys who you absolutely loved as a kid how you feel about them without looking like a total idiot?

nice read.

Let me tell you something about Bobby. I worked for him all through high school, and he's one of the most gracious and approachable people I've ever known.
I've got a short list of high rollers I've spent real, non-fanboy time with( Mike Hutchence and Helena Christensen to name two ), and he's right up there with them in every possible way.