The weekend began in mid-morning of what was a bitter-cold Saturday. The players, coaches, staff and guests gathered for the bus ride to the airport; I have to say that flying by chartered aircraft is the only way to fly. There were no lines to get to the plane and plenty of room to enjoy the food and a movie, while in flight. What stands out to me was the calmness and professionalism of the players as they traveled to this away game. They ate, studied or just rested for the entire trip.
Once we arrived at the hotel in the DC area, the schedule continued in a very businesslike manner. The players and coaching staff had a tight schedule of final meetings, with a brief respite for a chapel service. Later, it was back to meetings, with a set curfew for the players. The focus of all involved was again impressive. It was much like watching a military operations center being set up. Everyone who had a job was doing it to move the whole process forward.
I was invited to attend a dinner for the traveling guests and key members of the staff. The historic and stately atmosphere of the Occidental Grill was punctured by cheers of the Kansas City contingent as we collectively rooted for the eventual victory of the KC Sporting Club in the Major League Soccer Championship. After the shootout was over, we sat for dinner. I had the deep honor of sitting next to the legendary Len Dawson. Throughout the dinner, he regaled those near us with stories of his time in the NFL and as a local and national broadcaster. The food was great and the company even better.
The next day began with that snow that would last through the first three quarters of the game. Upon arriving at FedExField, we began to prepare for the game coverage. My duty for the day was to be the photography “runner”, which entailed shadowing the team photographer, Steve Sanders, and uploading photos to the web for our digital team to use during the game. I was to take the photos after key plays and scoring drives to a media room, select the best and get them uploaded. Typically this is a “runner” in name only, but the pace of the Chiefs scoring drives in the first half necessitated me actually running quite a few times. It was a great way to work off the food from the night before. The big payoff was that I spent most of the game on the sidelines, near the action. There is no better place to be. The cold-weather conditions were not even a factor as I kept warm through the raw excitement of being so near the action.
One other point of note, from the win, outside the obvious aspect of a great victory, was the number of Chiefs fans in attendance. The Chiefs Kingdom members in attendance were a large enough percentage of those in the stands that at the end of the National Anthem, the signature “Home of the Chiefs” could be heard booming in the stadium. Chiefs fans gave the feeling of a home-field advantage on the road.
A win and a great trip made for a memorable weekend.