Sundays in the fall seem simple in Kansas City.
For one, there is no decision to be made on attire—the uniform is red—and the breakfast menu is already prepped and ready. The first meal of the day will be coming off of a grill.
Approach Arrowhead Stadium from a distance, and the sight of a “Sea of Red” in the parking lot is as striking as the cloud of barbecue-laced smoke and the pleasant aroma that comes with it.
It’s the standard of the fall. Thousands of fans descend upon One Arrowhead Drive ready for what they view as a religion.
Nothing is better than Sundays from September to December. They are seamless; they are easy.
Here’s a look at some of the people that make them that way:
I think the amazing thing that people probably don't realize is how many people it actually takes to pull off game day. There are hundreds of people that work nothing but game day and we might only see each other 10 times a year and then it's offseason and I may not see them until the next year, but from the guy that welcomes you at the security gate to the guy that brings me the stat sheet in the middle of the game, it becomes a little bit of a private village. It’s really an amazing experience because we're all sharing the same thing—we're bringing professional football to Kansas City. It's a privilege. It feels like a family at every level."
I do a lot of conditioning. What people don't see is me sitting in my basement on a stationary bike. Typically, when I work out, I'll do a stationary bike and I bike about 23 miles. It takes me a little over an hour, and I do that two or three times a week. Besides that, I'm out doing appearances and just doing an appearance keeps me in shape as well. You throw 35 or 40 pounds of fur on your back and run around for two hours dancing around and entertaining, and that's a workout in itself, and so once you get there in front of a crowd, you just kind of turn the switch on. I will say this— I sleep well after game days. I get home, I eat big and then I lay down and I don't have any trouble sleeping after Chiefs games."
I started working [at Arrowhead Stadium] in October of 1981. I had worked on the complex for a long time with the Royals and there was a bunch of people that worked at both stadiums, were good friends and said 'Come on over.' So I came over and went to work, like I said, in October of '81, and I've been there ever since. I started out as a ticket taker, still am."
A few guys have some superstitions. I remember we had a center years ago that didn't want anybody to put his thigh pads in his pants for him, so we had to make sure we didn't. He had a superstition that he wanted to do it."
My husband Jim and I both were teachers; we're retired teachers. We always were in the same profession but never worked at the same building. We worked in the same school district, but to work together, that just means a lot now. Now that we're retired and can spend time together, working together just means so much. We can coordinate what we do as far as the elevators are concerned because he operates elevator five. That's the one that takes the visiting coaches and I take the Chiefs coaches. It just means a lot that we get to spend time together. My husband said I was born to do this because I love to talk.”
We script, to the second, every single movement that's happening on the field, so I have a 50-page document that I create for every single game that lines out from the minute gates open to the minute gates close, every second of what's happening."
We've had a lot of interaction with individuals that have fallen on very poor health circumstances and have been lifelong Chiefs fans. The amazing thing about sport in general, and about 'Chiefs Kingdom,’ is how everybody really takes that banner and sport in general just transcends things, like we saw play out with the Eric Berry story. I think the thing about game day that has just reinforced what an amazing impact the Chiefs have on the community here has been the countless number of individuals that we have had come to games that have either had a terminal situation and know that they don't have much time left or that have really used that as a turning point in their treatment and a rallying call. To see the pure joy on somebody's face when they have just gone down pregame and got to slap hands with a player or interacted with a cheerleader or an alumni member—it's those collective moments that really leave an impact within me."
The most amazing part is it's a family. The audition process and the way we do it entails so much more than just dancing. You have to be so much to be a cheerleader. You're an ambassador; you have to be able to speak to people—it depends on if it's a 5-year-old or a businessman. There are so many different things and different aspects that you have to be able to handle. We have the calendar, so the girls have to be swimsuit models also. The girls are absolutely amazing and what's the best is their heart. Every time you go to practice or are around anybody at the game, you always leave with a smile, and you really feel like you matter ... I can't even imagine my life without them at this point. That's the reason I keep coming back for the last 10 years. It's a good reminder every time that you're there that you want to be a better person and you can make an impact on people's lives."
The Chiefs, their influence has been immeasurable and I would have never thought that a seventh-round pick out of Iowa off of one broken foot at draft would be able to move through his career, stay in a great town like Kansas City and still have the connection to the organization like I do 15 or 20 years later."
When you work in that close of quarters [with the other three members of the video staff], especially in this business, you have a common bond and one goal. Obviously, if everyone buys into that goal, you're going to be a tight group. Three out of the four of us had a football background with other teams and colleges and everyone gets it. We get on the same page and all strive for the same goal."
I have been with Arrowhead and the Kansas City Chiefs since 1985. This is my 31st season with the Chiefs. Being at Arrowhead on game day is just a part of a tradition that I'm really thankful of being a part of, starting as an usher, working my way up to security, which I joined in '98, became a commissioned officer in '99, and then in 2006, I was one of the 12 chosen by Lamar Hunt to start Fans First Customer Service. The fans on game day are our number one priority, to see to it that they're experience is top notch. One of the things that Lamar Hunt always said and always believed in was that people were getting what they paid for and that's why he wanted to make sure that each fan was being looked after and thought of, so as I do this job, and my 53 employees that work with me, I want to make sure that they're seeing after our fans' needs on every level."
We go through a process of making sure that we have everything in line for the players to go out on the field and not worry about anything other than just playing. They don't have to worry about ‘Are their ankles taped? Are their muscles loose? Are they warmed up?’ We try to take care of all that and erase all that doubt so that they can just concentrate on what they have to do on the field. The rest of the staff in the Athletic Training Room—Rick (Burkholder), Aaron (Borgmann), Evan (Craft), Nick (Potter) and myself -- we work as a team, kind of like a five-headed monster, where we attack anything and we attack it from all angles, making sure that we leave no stone unturned."
I get down on the field in the pregame and one of my favorite things right now is I hear Eric Bieniemy, the running backs coach, give his pregame speech. I'm ready to put a helmet on after hearing that guy pump up his running backs. That's kind of a fun thing. People can see it happening but they can't hear what he's saying. I just love it every week. I look forward to it."
I sit in front of a wall, a giant monitor wall, and I see all of our cameras coming in, and I'm the person who talks to those cameras, tells them what to shoot and then I choose what goes up on the board. It's a lot of chaos and it's a lot of noise. To the left of me sits a technical director, who's pressing the buttons on the switcher and executing what I tell him to do, and to the right of me is our producer, who's making sure we're keeping things on track and reorganizing the scripts as we go along. I'm calling out the graphics going on the board, sponsorship promotions, directing cameras. A big part of what we do is calling replays, calling traffic and making sure everyone is getting the best look they can. It's a really fun job, but it's a really intense job."
My favorite part is seeing everyone, seeing everyone that I work with on a daily basis dressed up and ready for game day. The smiles, the excitement from all of the fans. To be up to where we are on the ninth floor, I mean you're in kind of a glass bubble and you can look down and you get to see everything, from parking to everyone coming in, all the tailgating and that is really cool to be able to witness and see from a very different level that most people don't get to view."
After a win, when you can tell people 'Goodnight and have a safe trip home,' it's nice when people come out of the suites and they're all excited. Of course, they're going home and you know how it is with this town—if the Chiefs win, it pretty much makes everybody's week. You can see the start of that week is when they leave their suites to head out to the parking lot and they're just grinning ear to ear and so that's kind of nice to see. It's a good feeling when the Chiefs win. I'm a very competitive person, so I like it so much better when they win. I'm like everybody else probably."
Over 37 years ago, I was working for the Cleveland Browns in their equipment department and we would come to Kansas City and play at Arrowhead Stadium. As a visitor way back then coming into Arrowhead Stadium, it was really cool. It was just an incredible stadium and probably one of the finest facilities at that time in the entire NFL. It was just a special place to go to every year whenever we'd go to Kansas City. In 1989, I had an opportunity to join Marty Schottenheimer in joining him in Kansas City when he left Cleveland as the head coach and came to Kansas City as the head coach. It really ended up being very special. The Hunt family, Lamar Hunt, it's truly an honor to be a part of the Hunt family's organization. It really is and I was very blessed and fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with Lamar and the Hunt family for all these years and obviously, as the equipment manager, and then now where I'm very fortunate that I still get to help out the equipment staff on game days and I also get to do game day tours. I'll sum it all up real simply. It's truly an honor to share with people the history and legacy of Lamar Hunt, the Hunt family, the AFL and Arrowhead Stadium. It doesn't get old. I get goosebumps every time I have the opportunity to share that with folks."