KANSAS CITY, MO—It's amazing what difference a season can make. Last year at this time, Kansas City Chiefs fans were ready to run quarterback Matt Cassel out of town. Now, he and his family are putting down roots in the metro as he leads the 8-4 Chiefs possibly towards the playoffs.
On Tuesday, Cassel appeared at the Ronald McDonald House to sign autographs and talk to patients. It's quite a change from a rough 2009 season that saw his Chiefs finish with a miserable 4-12 record. He says that as quarterback, he leads the team both on and off the field, for better or worse.
But sitting at 8-4 and in first place of the AFC West with four games remaining has wiped away all the misery from last season.
"(It's a) huge difference, we're just a different team right now, playing with a lot of confidence," said Cassel, who says that confidence is spilling over into his off-field life, and making it a lot easier to call Kansas City home.
"We are embracing the opportunity, myself, my wife, my foundation I work with," said Cassel. "It's been fun to grow in the community."
Cassel is currently tied for fifth in the NFL with 23 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. He has thrown for 2,503 yards and is trailing only New England's Tom Brady and San Diego's Philip Rivers in the AFC with a 98.4 quarterback rating.
The excitement continues this week in San Diego with a match-up against the always-dangerous Chargers, and with only four games left there's a buzz about the post-season and the possibility of a home playoff game. But Cassel knows all to well that you're only as good as your last game, and right now he's hoping the good times roll.
"It's fun if you win to come out in the community, be here and interact with people because they are excited as well," said Cassel. "We're excited, and we know the fans are too. We know we still have our work cut out for us over these next few weeks, but at the same time, we've put ourselves in a position and hopefully we can finish strong."
A win this weekend against the Chargers would eliminate defending AFC West champions San Diego from the divisional race with three games remaining, but Cassel is quick to point out the Oakland Raiders are there, as well. The Raiders will visit Arrowhead on January 2nd for the final game of the regular season.