The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson
Editor 

Super Bowl ready

 

Last updated 2/6/2021 at 3:54pm

Courtesy photo

Matt Chandler, longtime Chiefs fan, at Arrowhead Stadium with family members before an October 2019 game. Pictured are from left, top row, Chandler, Lillian Chandler, "Modern Family" actor Eric Stonestreet, Sofia De Groot and Lola De Groot; bottom row, Murray Chandler, Mechi Garbarino, Michael Chandler, Nina De Groot. Chandler said the family has season tickets and the trips from Clovis to Kansas City are consistently great family memories The family is hoping for a second consecutive Super Bowl victory today.

A team looking to establish legendary status will cross paths today with a team full of players who have reached that status already - albeit in a different place.

In an unpredictable season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some very familiar faces. The Kansas City Chiefs, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, are looking for their second-consecutive championship. Standing in their way are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with quarterback Tom Brady making his 10th Super Bowl appearance and first not involving the New England Patriots.

Following last year's essential pick-em between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City is the favorite for most oddsmakers at between 3 and 3.5 points - close enough for both fan bases to be confident.

Count Chiefs fan Matt Chandler and Bucs fan Steve De Leon, both longtime residents of Clovis, as confident fans. Both are planning to root on their teams at family gatherings, and both are predicting a win for their squads.

De Leon, who has been in Clovis for about 22 years, grew up in the Tampa area and has been a Bucs fan since the 1980s. He's watched some forgettable teams, but he also got a Super Bowl win in 2002 over the Oakland Raiders and he now gets to see the Bucs become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

"I was military, so I traveled everywhere," De Leon said. "I ended up in MacDill (Air Force Base in Tampa) and I decided that was my team. I loved going to games. I've been a true fan since then."

De Leon is actually in Tampa right now, but not to go to the game. He planned the trip to visit family a few months ago, and about a half-dozen family members plan to order pizza and wings for a watch party rather than try to find tickets in the four-figure range due to pandemic-related capacity restrictions.

The last few seasons, De Leon said the Bucs lost more one-possession games than they should have because they had issues at quarterback and kicker. When news came out that Brady was signing a contract with the Bucs, De Leon wasn't concerned about having a 43-year-old quarterback because the 43-year-old was Tom Brady.

"I was very optimistic," De Leon said. "I knew he had a lot left in him. He wanted to prove to the world it wasn't just the Patriots and the coach (Bill Belichick)."

While he's not going to Raymond James Stadium himself, De Leon thought it was a great gesture of the NFL to give away a portion of its tickets to medical professionals who have been put under so much strain during the pandemic.

Chandler, a district judge in Clovis, said he began rooting for Chiefs in the 1980s because he liked Christian Okoye at running back.

He began going to Chiefs games in 2013. A few years ago as the family left the parking lot following a Chiefs-Seahawks game one of the kids asked if they could do that every year. They're season ticket holders now, although they don't always get to attend all eight home games.

"Our road trips from Clovis to Arrowhead (Stadium)," Chandler said, "are just consistently the greatest memories we make as a family."

The trip is about 12 hours by car, and they've done it as a multi-day trip and as a "leave just in time to pull in before kickoff" adventure. A particularly bitter memory came in 2019 when the Chiefs lost to Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship in overtime. "We're looking forward to a little revenge this weekend," Chandler said.

The family has spent plenty of time around the Chiefs, and Chandler has spent limited time around Mahomes due to other connections. Some of his college fraternity brothers work with the 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, and noted the foundation's logo was designed by Clovis native Pat Ratledge.

The Chiefs were down 10 with 6:30 left to the 49ers in last year's Super Bowl when Chandler started prepping the kids for disappointment like he'd seen more times than he'd care to admit.

Their response? We've got Patrick Mahomes. He was happy to have lost that argument.

Chandler isn't particularly surprised the Chiefs are back in the championship game, given their last few seasons, but COVID-19 has produced some strange events.

"This entire NFL season has been, I would say, so unusual with the COVID protocols and the games being moved back and forth and certain players not being able to play. But (Chiefs coach) Andy Reid, I feel, has done a good job keeping the team focused and on track."

Both Chandler and De Leon are thinking it will be a shoot-out, and wouldn't be surprised if both teams score in the 40s.

 
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