McFeely: North Dakota couple conflicted over Chiefs, Wentz

KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Rob and Tina Hoggard are both Kansas City Chiefs fans from Hillsboro, but it’s only obvious in Rob’s case as the married couple sits at a high-top table in the Dirty Bird Sports Bar not far from Arrowhead Stadium. Rob is decked out in a red Chiefs jersey — No. 10, as worn by receiver Tyreek Kill — and baseball cap.

“I’m a hard-core Chiefs fan. I grew up in southern Missouri, about 15 miles east of Springfield,” Rob said. “I’m a true hillbilly.”

Tina grew up in Hillsboro and her North Dakota pride outshines her love of the Chiefs. She’s wearing a white Philadelphia Eagles jersey. It’s No. 11, of course. Carson Wentz, the Bismarck Century and North Dakota State graduate, wears that number. He is the second-year quarterback for the Eagles.

“I’m a Chiefs fan,” Tina said. “But I’m a bigger Carson Wentz fan.”

This week, Tina is setting aside her love of the Chiefs for her admiration of Wentz. For Rob, there’s zero chance of that happening.

The Hoggards, like dozens of North Dakotans, will be inside Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 17, when the Chiefs play the Eagles in Week 2 of the NFL season. With Kansas City about a nine-hour drive from Fargo, this game offers the best chance for Wentz fans to see him play in person in 2017 without having to a buy plane tickets. There were plenty of vehicles with North Dakota license plates making their way south on I-29 on Friday and Saturday.

Rob Hoggard’s Ford F-150 pickup — complete with a lighted Chiefs window decal — was one of them. Rob’s a truck mechanic and Tina’s a nurse, and when Chiefs single-game tickets went on sale they jumped at the chance to buy tickets to the Eagles game. Rob could cheer on his beloved Chiefs and Tina could see Wentz play. It’s their first time to Arrowhead for a game, so they also bought a pre-game stadium tour.

“I bought the tickets for the tour and he asked me if I could at least wear a Chiefs jersey for that, like maybe I could switch to my Eagles jersey for the game,” Tina said.

“And she said, ‘Noooooo!'” Rob said.

And they both laughed, as seems to often be the case. There’ll be no ill will between the two in the tailgating lot before the game, or after kickoff. Maybe just some good-natured ribbing depending on which team wins the game and which quarterback, Wentz or Kansas City’s Alex Smith, plays better.

“I can’t say I’m not proud of Carson Wentz, because I am,” Rob said, with Tina shaking her head in agreement.

Then comes the needle: “But I’m a bigger fan of Alex Smith.”

“Oh!” Tina yelps, rolling her eyes. “You are such a ….”

“I hope Carson throws for 400 yards, but I hope the Chiefs win,” Rob said, echoing a familiar refrain of many North Dakotans who are fans of teams other than the Eagles. “I’ll cheer for Wentz every other week of the year, except for this one. And she’ll cheer for the Chiefs every other week of the year, except for this one.”

The Hoggards are fans of the North Dakota State football team — Tina more passionate than Rob — and that’s where their interest in Wentz began. They sound much like thousands of other North Dakotans when asked why they like Wentz.

“Because he carries himself so well,” Tina said. “He’s a good role model for younger people. He says the right things, does the right things. I think he represents the state well. He’s just great. A small-town kid making it big.”

“It’s just so neat to see what he’s doing,” Rob said.

But not neat enough to get you to cheer for the Eagles on Sunday?

“Nope. No chance,” Rob said, laughing again. “Go Chiefs!”