KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most people in Kansas City were born Chiefs fans. But there are some lifelong fans like Robert Phares with no ties to the metro.
Phares, who as a child went by Bobby, grew up a big football fan in Mississippi, collecting cards and drawing pictures of his favorite players. When he saw teams’ addresses listed in a 1991 issue of Boy’s Life, he decided to send his favorite players drawings of them in action, plus a football card and letter asking they’d sign and return it.
“What I could do to make mine stand out, that’s what I did. I drew a picture of them on the outside and hoped that they would grab that one piece of mail,” Phares said of the excitement of sending out each piece of mail at age 11.
But players on team after team didn’t return his cards. At best he got a leftover promotional team photo.
“My expectations were pretty low when the Chiefs cards started rolling in,” he recalled.
Inside that letter from One Arrowhead Drive was a card from Christian Okoye, signed “To Bobby,” that he still has today.
Learning the Chiefs were the NFL’s only team whose players seemed to respond, he sent more drawings and letters and received signed cards from stars Derrick Thomas, Joe Montana and Coach Marty Schottenheimer.
He remembers one great play from Chiefs wide receiver Danan Hughes.
“At that moment, I flipped through my cards, Danan Hughes. I’m sending him, I hope he signs this card. I’m going to try this,” he said excitedly.
FOX4 told Hughes, now a color analyst for Chiefs broadcasts on 106.5 The Wolf, the story of how he and his teammates fulfilled a Mississippi boy’s dreams.
“You always wonder if you are impacting lives or how you are impacting lives. So it’s always cool to hear these type of stories that something small that took a few seconds has impacted somebody’s life to this extent,” Hughes said.
Hughes wanted to thank Phares for a lifetime of supporting the Chiefs in an area dominated by the Saints, so he hopped on a Zoom call to greet Phares.
“My 11-year-old self is screaming inside. I can’t believe that I’ve got you on here. That’s crazy,” Phares exclaimed.
Hughes said from what he’s seen, this version of the Chiefs are as good off the field as they are on.
“I think its something that’s engrained in them through the community that they realize that the community is something super important,” he said.
Phares knows the Super Bowl champs have way more fans and people reaching out to them via social media these days than the teams from the ’90s. But when he told his 7-year-old stepson who has autism the story this week, the boy decided to send cards to Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes, hoping for a similar result.