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Coming to Terms with the Chiefs “Dynasty”

(Photo Credit:All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

No greater honor can be bestowed upon an athlete or a team like being called a dynasty.  The word alone conjures up images of podiums, confetti, shaking hands and beaming faces.  It’s the pinnacle of achievement in sport – but, what does it really mean?  What are we getting all worked up about?

According to Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines a sports dynasty as “sports franchise which has a prolonged run of successful seasons.”  To anyone even remotely familiar with sports, this is easily the loosest definition of a sports dynasty of all time.  That’s like saying Betamax was a success because people still make clichéd references to it from time to time.  I had to see for myself if Merriam-Webster was truly such a sports nimrod, so naturally I went to their website to see for myself.  Predictably, there was no such definition.

So, let me put it this way – the term dynasty?  It can be a little bit ambiguous.

What’s not ambiguous?  What the Kansas City Chiefs are doing right now – dynasty or not – is pretty unbelievable.

Patrick Mahomes was drafted in 2017.  After one year on the bench, he’s been the Chiefs starting quarterback every season since.  In those six seasons, he has led the Chiefs to two Super Bowl wins and four appearances.  The Chiefs have been to the AFC Championship Game in every season since Mahomes took over the gig.  In a word, they’ve been dominant.  But are they a dynasty?

Again, we lack a solid definition – thanks a lot, Wikipedia.  We do know what’s not a dynasty.  Those Buffalo Bills teams from 1990 - 93 that went to four straight Super Bowls but lost every one?  Heck no.  The 90s Atlanta Braves that won a billion division titles but only won a single World Series?  Please.  LeBron James’ Miami Heat teams in the 2010s?  Really?  Is this a joke to you?

When I was a wee lad, the word dynasty was synonymous with two teams: the 2000 - 2002 Los Angeles Lakers, and the 2001 - 2004 New England Patriots.  The Lakers were the NBA’s last team to three-peat.  The Patriots are the NFL’s last team to win three Super Bowls in four years.  If that’s our measuring stick, the Chiefs fall short.

Of course, context is everything.  Does the fact that the Chiefs are dominating the NFL in an era that has prioritized parity above all else matter?  Or, perhaps, is the term dynasty being applied too liberally already?

Perhaps the greatest dynasty in all of professional sports was the Boston Celtics from 1957 - 1969, who won an astonishing eleven NBA Championships in a thirteen year span, with another Finals appearance to boot.  Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won six championships in eight years, going six for six in the Finals for good measure – can the Chiefs really measure up to that?  Can the Lakers and Patriots, for that matter?

Maybe we can look to the NHL for guidance.  Their Hall of Fame has, in fact, elected to distinguish nine dynasty teams.  Maybe the Canadians can clear this mess up for us!

Then again, maybe not.  Of the nine teams recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame, each won at least four Stanley Cups.  The most ancient of the nine, the 1919 - 1927 Ottawa Senators, won four in eight years.  The rest did even better than that.  So, by the NHL’s standards, at least four championships in eight or fewer years is our measuring stick.  If that’s the case, we can kiss the dynasty talk from Kansas City goodbye – and for the Patriots and Lakers too!

But let’s be honest: nobody disputes the Patriots and Lakers dynasties.  Merriam-Webster and Wikipedia might not be able to tell a dynasty from a hole in the ground, but for most of us, three in a short time span usually gets it done.  If that’s the case, we could (and probably will) be ushering in the newest sports empire when the Chiefs face the 49ers in two weeks.

As an unabashed Bengals fan, it’s painful to admit.  We had their number…briefly.  We may still have their number…provided Joe Burrow is healthy.  But for now, we should all get used to the idea that Mahomes and the Chiefs will be using the NFL as their playground for the foreseeable future.

Even if they lose, what the Chiefs have done over the last six years is hard to dispute.  If you can’t already consider them a dynasty, consider this: the Big Red Machine only won two World Series, but I’ll swing on anyone who doesn’t give them their due.

If you don’t want to call the Chiefs a dynasty then, fine.  Call it whatever you want.  But as for me, I’m done pretending.  The Chiefs are the team of the moment – and they have been for six years now.  And maybe that’s all that needs to be said.

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