Every football fan – at one point or another – has imagined strapping on a helmet and running out of the tunnel on a Sunday afternoon.
That dream became a reality for nearly 100 individuals this week as the Kansas City Chiefs held the fifth annual Fantasy Camp, with proceeds benefitting the Center for Concussion Management at The University of Kansas Health System.
The event provided fans with the ultimate experience, from going through drills with Chiefs’ legends to running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We are very excited to once again team up with our partners at The University of Kansas Health System to host the fifth-annual Chiefs Fantasy Camp,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “It offers a one-of-a-kind Chiefs experience to participants while also supporting the Center for Concussion Management at the Health System, and we are proud to partner together to help the community.”
The event began on Thursday evening with a reception at Arrowhead, where participants had a chance to mingle with former Chiefs such as Dante Hall, Priest Holmes and Trent Green while hearing from Donovan and Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt.
The festivities continued on Friday with a breakfast panel made up of Head Coach Andy Reid and General Manager Brett Veach followed by a film breakdown with Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton.
“Sitting in there with the coaches and talking about game film was awesome,” said Tim Cross, one of the fans at camp. “I watch all the games and everything, but what they’re watching is something totally different. Everything we’ve done has been cool, but that was the best.”
After reviewing some film, it was time to hit the field at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex, where the Chiefs practice each and every week during the season.
Fans were broken down into groups and took turns going through a variety of different drills, each of which was led by a former Chiefs’ player. Hall, for example, taught how to properly field punts while Hall of Fame offensive guard Will Shields instructed fans on blocking technique.
“It’s been great. There’s so much to do and they just keep it coming. There’s no down time,” Cross said. “[The former players] have been high-fiving us and telling us to keep going the whole time.”
The drills provided the fans with a chance to show off what they could do.
“I didn’t think I was going to do very well, but I’m doing much better than I thought,” said a smiling Janey Stephens, another fan participating in camp. “The field goal station with [Hall of Fame kicker] Jan Stenerud was my favorite. I think I may have even surprised him a little bit.”
The fans then made their way back to Arrowhead, where they heard from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, cornerback Steve Nelson and linebackers Tanoh Kpassagnon and Ukeme Eligwe as part of a lunchtime panel.
Following lunch, the participants visited the locker room before running out of the Arrowhead Stadium tunnel for the culmination of their preparation – the annual 7-on-7 flag football tournament.
The tournament and the award ceremony that followed wrapped up what was truly a special couple of days.
“I absolutely love it because you see a different side of the passion from the fans,” said Chiefs Radio Network Sideline Reporter Dani Welniak, who competed alongside the fans throughout the camp. “You see all different ages, shapes and sizes and they’re all playing together because they love the Chiefs. There’s so much excitement and anticipation and to really be able to immerse yourself in that gives you a better feel for how excited the fans really are for the season.”
That excitement was similarly palpable among the Chiefs’ legends in attendance.
“I love Kansas City and I love what the Chiefs do in this community,” said former Chiefs running back and Fantasy Camp attendee Christian Okoye. “I’m always happy to come back and help contribute. When I played, I had such great fun playing here. The relationship I had with the fans was undeniable. I only played for the Chiefs - I didn’t play for any other team - so that relationship is very strong. It’s just a blessing.”
The University of Kansas Health System and the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the fifth annual fantasy camp.