The Kansas City Chiefs are preparing to play in their first Super Bowl in 50 years and the time warp spanning Len Dawson to Patrick Mahomes has been the subject of a lot of conversation this week.
Of course, we all know the Chiefs should have been the AFC representative in last year’s game. But defensive end Dee Ford got a little too anxious and jumped about four inches offside at absolutely the wrong time of Kansas City’s conference championship game against the Patriots.
We know it was four inches because Chiefs coach Andy Reid has said his team missed by four inches from going to the Super Bowl. Do the math.
Ford’s misstep – he participated in over 1,000 plays for the Chiefs in 2018 – came on a third-and-10 from the Chiefs 34 with about a minute to play and KC leading by four. The Chiefs had intercepted Tom Brady to wrap up the win, but the play was nullified because of the penalty.
Given a reprieve, the Patriots went on to score a touchdown and eventually win in overtime.
“I’ve been through a lot worse things,” Ford said that day. “I’m not trying to downplay that [offside penalty], but I’ve been through a lot worse things.
“That crushed my heart. But in order to persevere, you have to acknowledge it, take it on the chest and work to move forward. The only answer that will make anything better is winning the Super Bowl. So that’s the focus.”
We mention this only because Ford doesn’t play for the Chiefs any longer. He was traded to the 49ers in the offseason, which means he’ll be doing whatever he can Sunday to prevent his old team from winning its first Super Bowl since 1970.
When the Chiefs lost Ford, their top edge rusher, they acquired a guy named Frank Clark from Seattle to fill his spot. Clark’s an off-the-wall character. His postgame interviews are regularly filled with profane rants. He has high regard for himself.
Earlier this week, Clark was asked what he knows about Ford. And Clark did not hold back, saying he wasn’t too fond of the guy and thought what he did in the AFC Championship Game was dumber than dumb.
“I don’t know nothing about him,” Clark said Tuesday. “I couldn’t name a stat. I don’t know the school he went to.
“I just know he had lined up offside and anybody who lined up offside at a time like that I feel like that’s a dumb penalty at the end of the day. I’m sure he feels the same way. Personally I’ve lined up offside before but not in that type of (situation) … In any (situation) that’s just something that shouldn’t happen.’
“But he’s back here again this season. I’m sure he has a lot he wants to prove.”
When told what Clark had to say, all Ford could do was nod his head and sigh.
“He’s right,” Ford said.
By now, Ford’s come to understand frustrated Chiefs fans blame him for blowing the chance to play the Rams last season. Judging by how bad the Rams looked against the Patriots, you figure they would have had no chance to keep up with Mahomes.
Meanwhile, Clark, who has four sacks in Kansas City’s two postseason wins and wears Ford’s No. 55, thinks he’s a far better player than Ford – perhaps the best defensive end in the league.
“Because of everything I can do,” he said. “Watch me healthy against any other defensive end. I mean you can do all the talking, you can do all the praising you want about these guys who have been at the top of the league for the last couple years. But if you watch football and you understand football, then you know Frank Clark (and) you understand (who) the best of the league is at doing this.”
Whatever you say, Frank.
Ford has nothing against the Chiefs. They treated him well and he seemingly enjoyed his time with the organization. But you’d have to admit, it’s going to be really strange to share the stage with a lot of guys who must still be friends knowing you are there to beat them.
“It’s a business. At the end of the day, you move forward as an organization and you move forward as a player,” Ford said. “You see a lot of players stay with certain teams for their whole career but for the most part it doesn’t always work out like that. So, that doesn’t really mean ‘Oh, they don’t like you or nothing like that.’ It’s a business at the end of the day, and I’m a businessman at the end of the day. So, that was just part of the decision-making that came with the game. That was nothing personal.”
Reid doesn’t hold any hard feelings, either. After he traded him to the 49ers, Ford signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal and Reid was one of the first people to text his congratulations.
“They’re really good, but he’s been a nice addition for them,” Reid said. “There are not a lot of pass rushers better than Dee in the National Football League. I don’t think it matters necessarily that he knows our offense or doesn’t know it. He’s in a difference scheme now, and I’m sure he probably didn’t care about all the stuff when he played against us in training camp. They have short memories of that, but I’m sure he’s studying hard to get back in the swing of it.”