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Dog Bandanas And Sunday Laundry: Chiefs Fans Lean On Superstitions To Help Their Team

Josh Weinstock/Twitter
Josh Weinstock posted this pic to Twitter saying "My dog put her lucky bandana on" just before the Chiefs scored in Sunday's win over Houston.

When you think back on the Kansas City Chiefs' 51-31 comeback win in the playoffs over the Houston Texans, you might remember Patrick Mahomes rallying his teammates on the sidelines.

Or the Chiefs seven touchdowns on seven straight possessions.

Or even the three touchdowns scored by running back Damien Williams or tight end Travis Kelce's three touchdown catches. 

But for many fans, the game's defining moment didn't come on the field. It came courtesy of a Chiefs fan with the Twitter handle "Big Buck Chuck." Charles Penn (his real name) posted a video of himself leaving Arrowhead Stadium in the first quarter of the Texans game because, he said, that was the only way the Chiefs could come back. His presence at the game was jinxing the team. 

"I'm outta here. I'm outta here so we can get the second half comeback going," Penn said in the video. "Gotta leave man, it's the only hope."

Turns out Penn is not alone in his sports superstitions.

"We classified 27% of the NFL fans that we talked with are at least a little superstitious," says Jeffery Henning who runsResearchScape, a Florida market research company.

"They often had very elaborate rituals that often, for some reason, involved clothing and laundering and laundry schedules," Henning told KCUR.

The survey, he said, also showed 21% of respondents "are at least slightly paranoid their actions at home before watching a game might affect the team they root for."

That might apply to Janna Quaring who was in line to buy tickets Monday at Arrowhead Stadium for this coming Sunday's AFC Championship Game versus the Tennessee Titans. She has her own gameday superstitions.

“I do, but those are mine,” she said in a way that suggested she believes they help. “They’re only crazy if they don’t work.”

Fan superstitions may date back to the time of the gladiators, but now social media puts them where we can all see them -- and share them. 

There was Josh Weinstock who Tweeted a pic of his dog during Sunday's game: "My dog put her lucky #Chiefs bandana on right before this scoring drive."

And there was Barb Shelly, who has done reporting for KCUR. On Sunday, she found herself unable to take the pressure when the Chiefs were taking a beating by the Texans in the first quarter.

"This is terrible," she tweeted. "Taking a break from watching @Chiefs. Going upstairs to vacuum."

Henning, from ResearchScape, has a favorite story from his two surveys into football superstitions.

"Someone said every time I picked up my daughter who was a toddler the other team would do well and score. But as long as she was sitting away from me, our team would do well," he said.

The weirdest part? That person was watching the game on tape-delay.

Turns out, Chiefs fans are no more superstitious than other fans. According to the ResearchScape survey, the most superstitious fans are in Buffalo, where 34% admit to having some gametime ritual. They are followed by fans in Miami and Pittsburgh.

Chiefs fans, in fact, rank near the bottom.

According to the survey, the least superstitious fans are those of the Cleveland Browns (22%), the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots (both 24%).

Which makes Jake Tonsfeldt, who was also in line Monday to buy tickets to Sunday's game versus Tennessee, probably fairly representative of Chiefs fans.

Does he have a game superstition?

“No, no, no,” he said. “We got a good team and they’ll roll with it.”

Sam Zeffis KCUR's metro reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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