A Big Loss for the Chiefs While Buffalo Has Gaines

By Greg Echlin

Down the stretch, if the Kansas City Chiefs’ second-half fade continues, cornerback E.J. Gaines would have mixed emotions about his hometown team.  His Buffalo Bills had a big say on that.

As part of the Bills defense, Gaines and his teammates choked the Chiefs as they gasped for air in the game’s final two minutes.  A suffocating interception by fellow corner Tre’Davious White sealed it when the Chiefs threatened on their final drive of the game.

EJ Gaines
Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Athletics EJ Gaines played college football at the University of Missouri. Gaines was a sixth round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2014.

It resulted in a 16-10 victory for the Bills who are trying to get back on track with Tyrod Taylor re-inserted as their starting quarterback.  The Chiefs offense, meanwhile, was stifled while the fan base gets restless with back-up quarterback Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings while Alex Smith struggles.

The Chiefs picked up only one first down in the opening half.

“They have a lot of weapons on offense, so our main thing was coming out and getting a stop on that last series,” said Gaines, a Fort Osage HS graduate before he went on to play for the Missouri Tigers. “That was the only thing that mattered to us.”

Gaines played his first game at Arrowhead Stadium since 2014, his rookie season with the then-St. Louis Rams as a sixth-round draft choice out of Mizzou.  He set career-high with 30 tickets for what he called a once-in-a-lifetime moment with family and friends at the game.

“It was good to come out here and put on a show.”

It almost turned into a nightmare for Gaines when he was whistled for a personal foul penalty that wasn’t blatant.  But it was significant enough for the Chiefs pick up a valuable chunk of real estate on their final drive of the game.

“That was a tough call,” said Gaines. “That’s something we can’t control with the referees.  That’s something they’ll have to look at and decide if it was the right call.  But Tre’Davious (White) bailed us out, so I can sleep well tonight.”

Arrowhead Stadium sunset
Is the sun setting on 2017 playoff hopes for the Chiefs?

The victory vaulted the Bills back into the heat of the AFC race for a post-season berth.

“It’s huge.  It’s something that that we needed this week after the last few weeks we had,” said Gaines.  “Coming in and competing against a good team as an away team is something we definitely needed.”

And perhaps set up a rematch in the post-season if the Chiefs manage to hold on.

Kansas Alienates Home Crowd Further With Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Audio: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield talks to the media  after winning a road game against Kansas.

By Greg Echlin

Of all the Power 5 football conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12), only Duke’s home game against Georgia Tech over the weekend had a smaller announced crowd (20,141) than the game in Lawrence between Kansas and No. 4 ranked Oklahoma (22,854).

So what did KU’s game captains do to fire up the Jayhawks fans not dressed up in Sooners gear? Refuse to shake hands at the coin toss with Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield.  How about that for upperclassmen leadership!  Really?

To top it off, after the game, when Jayhawks third-year coach David Beaty was asked from the outset of his post-game news conference about the gestures—or in this case a non-gesture—of his captains, he responded, “You’re going to stick your feet in the ground and you’re going to defend your grass.  I think we’ve got to display it better than that, obviously, but I get it.”

Beaty added, “I understand where they’re coming from.  I’ve got to do a better job as their coach.  Maybe teaching them how to manage that a little better.”

Isn’t sportsmanship one of the first basic principles taught at the beginner’s level of any sport?

Granted, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t handle himself well later in the game with some of the gestures he made.  But the tone was already set for that type of behavior with KU’s display by its three game captains—Joe Dineen Jr., Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Daniel Wise—before the kickoff.  Then in the Jayhawks post-game interview room, only Lawrence native Dineen Jr. addressed questions while the other two Jayhawks players ducked out.

Mayfield, on the other hand, was openly apologetic in the compact visitors media room and then later on through Twitter.  His actions overshadowed the clinching of a berth in the Big 12 title game by OU (10-1, 7-1).

If KU wants to make statement, here’s a novel idea: Play better than losing to the Sooners, 41-3, and dropping to 1-10 (0-8 in the Big 12) this season.

It’s bad enough to alienate a fan base so badly that, if it’s not a KU basketball game, it largely wasn’t even aware the Jayhawks were playing their last football home game of the year.  It’s not hard to explain why more and more aren’t showing up.  Adding insult, KU is in the midst of a true road game losing streak—45 straight—that’s the worst ever among major college football programs.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look any more promising as KU focuses on its final game of the year at Oklahoma State.

Saying Goodbye To Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran photo above courtesy Keith Allison/flickr

Audio: George Brett in Cooperstown, 1999

By Ian Echlin

I have a special fandom toward Carlos Beltran ever since we were paired on-field. I was an honorary lineup participant around ten years old before a Sunday afternoon ballgame, and our short back-and-forth chat sticks with me to this day. Continue reading Saying Goodbye To Carlos Beltran