Wait of a lifetime culminates in Super Bowl LIV for English teacher Casey Holland


Fatema Rehmani

Holding a Kansas City sports themed picture, English teacher Casey Holland displays his classroom adorned with Chiefs decor. Holland will watch his favorite NFL team compete in the Super Bowl for the first time in his life Feb. 2. “I was born and raised a Chiefs fan. I’m from Southwest Missouri two hours south of Kansas City. My friends and I in elementary school all liked the Chiefs and our parents liked the Chiefs and we used to go to games all the time. I was just born into it.

English teacher Casey Holland jolts awake at 2 a.m. 

“I haven’t been sleeping well,” Holland said. “Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. and checked my Twitter feed for any Chiefs news or Chiefs videos. That’s what’s been getting me through: watching Patrick Mahomes highlights.”

Holland, born and raised into Kansas City Chiefs fandom, witnessed his childhood team punch their first ticket to the Super Bowl in 50 years with a 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game Jan. 19.

“It was kind of surreal; it took me a little bit for it to hit me that we’re in the Super Bowl. I embraced my son, gave him a huge hug and was tearing up,” Holland said. “I don’t know why I care so much, but I do. We were both just so excited. My wife doesn’t understand why we’re so excited, but we are.”

The Chiefs suffered 16 playoff losses in Holland’s lifetime–including an overtime defeat to the New England Patriots for last year’s conference title–before escaping the AFC playoff bracket and breaking through to the Super Bowl.

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“After last year’s loss to the Patriots, I thought that was our best chance [at a Super Bowl]. It’s pretty wild, what it means to me. It makes me think about 2012, when we were 2-14 and just terrible, and everybody was making fun of the Chiefs,” Holland said. “Trying to keep faith and telling my son ‘one day, it’s going to pay off’ makes me think of my friends that I grew up with. We’ve had some conversations about the game and about the season. It’s really nice to have those relationships and just be excited about Chiefs football.”

Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs enter their matchup against the San Francisco 49ers as slight favorites.

“It’s hard to bet against Patrick Mahomes. That guy is unbelievable. I’m confident it’s going to be a great game. I don’t want to jinx it by saying anything else,” Holland said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up, but if they won, I don’t know what I would do. I think it would be hard to put words to. I’m probably going to take a lap around my neighborhood. I’m going to be screaming.”

As the Chiefs’ postseason run has intensified, so too has Holland’s insistence on adhering to a carefully crafted daily routine.

Fatema Rehmani
English teacher Casey Holland drinks coffee out of his red Chiefs cup as a superstition.

“I’m a very superstitious person. I wear my Patrick Mahomes shirt every Friday. When I’m done with my coffee, I will only use my red cup. We’ve had Qdoba [on Thursday] the past three weeks–I intentionally did that. Same socks on Friday, same shirt on Friday, same food on Thursday,” Holland said. “Another superstition I have is when [the Chiefs are] on defense, I stand up, and when they’re on offense, I sit back down on the couch, so I’ll stand up and pace the floor and scream at the TV.”

Holland’s arsenal of good luck charms also includes the decision to keep his final score prediction a secret.

“It’s neat to see a lot of other people be Chiefs fans now since the Rams are no longer here. To see everybody celebrating the Chiefs makes me happy,” Holland said. “This is not me being negative, but I cannot predict the Chiefs to win or they will lose–another superstition. I said 38-27 49ers, but know that in my head, I’ve got another score.”