Utter failure in the National Football League is rewarded with top draft choices and weak schedules that can be Viagra to a limp franchise.
"I know as a fan, I hope they don't win another game," Lynn Dickey, former Green Bay Packer-great and current WHB 810 football analyst, said on the air recently. On his program and in comments to the Pitch, Dickey reluctantly makes the case for continued misery. "We're not going anywhere, and I'd like to get a good draft choice. I'll never root against them, but if they happen to [continue losing], I won't feel bad."
The San Diego Chargers finished 1-15 last season. In April, the franchise resurrected itself by drafting running back LaDaimian Tomlinson and quarterback-of-the-future Drew Brees.
"Derrick Thomas was the last really impact player the Chiefs have drafted other than Tony Gonzalez," Dickey said. "He was the fourth pick in the first round. That's where you get your big-time playmakers to come in and change the way other teams have to game-plan for you. We don't have anybody like that on the Chiefs. The only way you get them sometimes is to take a huge step backward to take a few steps forward."
Jack Harry, who hosts the Chiefs' postgame show on 810, voiced what many Chiefs fans were thinking after the Chiefs knocked off Seattle for their first home win of the season in late November. "The only thing that kind of scares you now is that if the Chiefs go out and get on a roll, they're going to screw their draft choice up," Harry told his audience.
What can the Chiefs get with a top-five pick in the first round and a second draft choice somewhere around the 35th overall pick? Quarterbacks David Carr of Fresno State and Joey Harrington of Oregon have every NFL team drooling. One thing the Chiefs have never done is draft and develop a successful starting quarterback.
One significant reason Dick Vermeil's Rams won the 2000 Super Bowl was the dazzling array of sprinters he had at wide receiver in St. Louis. Receivers Andre Davis of Virginia Tech, Javon Walker of Florida State and Kelly Campbell of Georgia Tech will go quickly in the next draft.
It's hard to think of a position on the Chiefs' lineup that couldn't be improved by the draft. Most observers expect the Chiefs to go after a defensive lineman in the first round: John Henderson, the immense tackle from Tennessee, or Wendell Bryant, the Wisconsin defensive tackle. The Chiefs need a center to replace the retired Tim Grunhard. Andre Gurode, Colorado's 320-pound All-Big 12 center, looks like he could fill that spot for the next decade.
Peterson might opt to spend his top-five pick on North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, who reminds many of Derrick Thomas. There are sexy picks everywhere for the Chiefs to consider if they can tank the rest of the season. But can any real fan spend the month of December rooting for the Chiefs' opponents? Tim Grunhard doesn't think so. "You can't play to lose just to improve your draft position, and no Chiefs fan out there should be rooting for that to happen," Grunhard said on 810 recently.
Being a typical American male who favors immediate gratification over almost every other form of pleasure, I have to agree with Grunhard. But if this season ends up a stinker, it's nice to know there is a red-and-gold lining around that cloud of misery hovering over Arrowhead.