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Columbia NFL fans dedicated despite down years for Chiefs and Rams

Monday, November 30, 2009 | 11:07 p.m. CST
Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) is tackled by a swarm of Seahawks defenders in a 27-17 loss Sunday in St. Louis.

COLUMBIA —

The Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams NFL football teams are struggling. The Chiefs are 5-31 in their past 36 games, and the Rams are 1-10 after finishing last season 2-14. In 2007 they were 3-13. And yet, two die-hard fans in Columbia won't be selling their season tickets anytime soon.

St. Louis Rams fan Jacob Glazer and Kansas City Chiefs fan Theresa Musket have a loyalty that runs deep. They have endured traffic, rain and freezing temperatures to see their teams. Every home game, they make the four-hour round-trip to the stadium, often leaving in disappointment.

They hear the jokes, and they dismiss them.

“Not many people support the Rams here or in St. Louis now," Glazer said. "We’ve got a bunch of fair-weather fans. But I try to promote the team as much as possible."

Attendance for both teams has been in free fall — more than 5,000 for the Rams and 8,000 for the Chiefs.

Like many diehard fans, Glazer and Musket don't care. They got hooked on their teams at an early age.

Glazer, 21, a junior at MU originally from St. Louis, began attending Rams games after the franchise moved from Los Angeles in 1995. His dad started buying season tickets, and Glazer attends at least seven home games every year.

“It’s really easy to get tickets now,” he said.

The Rams won the Super Bowl in 1999, and Glazer traveled to Atlanta to watch them defeat the Tennessee Titans. He was in fifth grade and remembers skipping school to catch the parade on Market Street in downtown St. Louis. 

Musket also finds herself in thinning company. She grew up a Chiefs fan in Independence, making the short trip with her parents to Arrowhead for home games until she was 12.

“We sat in the end zone where you could try to catch footballs before they hung the nets up (behind the goal posts),” she said.  

Her cousin, Rich Baldinger, was an offensive lineman for the Chiefs from 1983 to 1992 and now works as a color commentator for Chiefs preseason games.

After moving to Columbia, she continued to make the trip back for games, as did Glazer.   

“I had to miss one earlier. I had a test on Monday, but that was the only game I’ve missed this year,” he said.

Musket met her husband in the dorms when she came to MU in 1983 and they never left Columbia. She works as a laboratory manager in a soybean research laboratory that belongs to the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology at MU.

She used to drive back to Kansas City whenever she could find tickets, but now she has three season tickets to split between herself, her husband, and their son and daughter.

If both the Tigers and Rams play at home during the same weekend, Glazer attends the Tiger game on Saturday, then wakes up at 8 a.m. on Sunday to drive to St. Louis.

Musket said her family leaves for Kansas City around 7:30 a.m. in order to tailgate before a noon game.

The Muskets always take a cow skull painted yellow and red. They named it after former Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt who died in 2006.

“We put it on the table for our tailgates,” Musket said.

Glazer guesses that he falls into the 15 percent of football fans in Columbia who support the Rams. Thirty percent support the Chiefs, he figures, and the rest don’t really care.

On Nov. 8, Musket went to a Rams-Colts game wearing a Chiefs jersey. She walked away unimpressed with the crowd at the Edward Jones Dome.

“It’s just not the same as being at the Chiefs’ stadium," she said. "There’s no tailgating. Nobody cheered. It was dark because it was in the dome. It’s not the full experience.”

Arrowhead Stadium is considered one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, and fans turn tailgating into an all-day event in the massive parking lots surrounding the stadium. Fans are also more exposed to the elements, especially later in the year when temperatures in Kansas City drop below freezing.

Going in, Glazer and Musket were prepared for a losing season, so they kept their expectations low.

The Rams showed signs of life by winning three of four preseason games this year. But it was false hope.

“It showed encouragement,” Glazer said. “I thought we were going to come out and at least win eight games this year. It’s not happening.”

He points to the inexperienced younger players on the team.

“Once they get a couple years under their belt, this team’s going to be turned around,” he said. He was happy the Rams hired head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and he likes the team's talent level. But he's discouraged by draft picks that have turned out to be busts.

The Chiefs went through a promising offseason overhaul, much to the delight of fans. They brought on three-time NFL Executive of the Year Scott Pioli, who helped build the New England Patriots dynasty, as general manager.

Todd Haley, the former offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals who went to the Super Bowl last year, replaced Herm Edwards as head coach. The team traded for quarterback Matt Cassel who led the Patriots to an 11-5 record last year after Tom Brady went down with an injury.

Unfortunately, the 2009 Chiefs look a lot like the 2008 Chiefs, at least in the win column.

Although the top pick in the 2010 draft is a possibility for both teams, neither Glazer nor Musket want to count the losses. They still have faith.

“I think they’re coming together,” Glazer said of the Rams. “My prediction right now: three wins in the second half, 4-12 finish. Still going be a top 10 pick so you’re going to get a good player and also get some wins for St. Louis,” Glazer said.

Musket, who blames the turnover in personnel and the shuffling of quarterbacks in the past few years for the Chiefs mounting losses, thinks the Chiefs can turn it around once the offense starts clicking.

“My goal is to have them come on big and beat Denver to win the division, because my son’s a big Denver fan,” Musket said.


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