Under the twenty-year dictatorship of GM Carl Peterson, the Kansas City Chiefs amassed an impressive yet impotent record of 176-141-1. In that time span, the Chiefs secured four AFC West titles but only a single visit to the AFC Championship game in 1993. The firing of Peterson and the eventual signing of Scott Pioli as his successor, was both over due and widely welcomed.
However, like a Las Vegas drive-thru wedding, this union between Pioli and the Chiefs is already beginning to show some unexpected wear. This could be a rush to judgment based on nothing more than newlywed jitters, but the erosion is clear and the concerns warranted. A closer examination of the foundational cracks in this young relationship should help to clarify or disclaim any need for worry.
Herman Edwards: Most would agree that you do in fact “play to win the game”, and most would also agree that Herm wasn’t very good at it. His talent as a head coach might be questioned, but there can be no question when it comes to grading Herman Edwards the person. To some, the handling or mishandling as it might be, of his firing, was down right disrespectful.
As Herm paraded the halls of Arrowhead giving the lay of the land to the new GM, media types were giving Edwards a 20% chance of retaining his job. As the days passed along, it became more and more clear that once the Super Bowl was in the books, Edwards too would be history. This might seem as nit picking, but certainly, the situation could have been handled with a tad more class and dignity you would think.
Larry Johnson: Back in February Chiefs RB Larry Johnson shared his feelings (again) during a 23-minute interview on KCSP 610 radio;
“I’d rather just play somewhere else. This is a rebuilding team. I dont’ really think that I belong on this rebuilding team. It’s just the way the league works. I’ve done what I’ve done for Kansas City. I’m not getting no younger, and the team is getting younger. So I’m not sure I fit in the scheme of things. I never felt like I was in the scheme of things anyways. Everyone wants to do it the hard way, or you can do it the easy way.”
In the interview Larry goes on to talk about the fans of Kansas City saying that he gets boo’ed when out at 20 sporting events or in the public.
“That’s Kansas City. The rumor mill builds, and the jealousy, and the envy, starts. You feel trapped. At one point I didn’t even want to leave my house.”
One can only wonder at the difficulty Chiefs fans will have cheering for a player that has repeatedly put himself ahead of his team and the community. To be disrespected by a player is one thing, but to be ignored by the GM is quite another.
To many fans, releasing Larry Johnson should have been item 1A on Pioli’s to do list. Player character is all too important in today’s NFL and conduct violations of the nature of DWI, drug usage, spousal abuse and community bashing are unacceptable. Scott Pioli missed an excellent opportunity to put his words into action.
Head Coach Todd Haley: Part of the allure of Todd Haley is in fact his no nonsense in your face fireball temperament. Fans felt revived in knowing that their head coach was able and willing to take the bull by the horns, look him in the eyes and ride him for eight. Well coach Parcells, sorry, Haley, found his bull in LG Brian Waters. God only knows what went on between those two, but this we do know, Haley had more than a little to say about the anemic 2008 Chiefs.
According to reports, Waters flew to Kansas City specifically to meet with Haley and Pioli and hear their plan for the direction of the organization. Pioli declined to meet with Waters, saying they had nothing to discuss, the source said. And Haley began his hallway conversation with Waters by proclaiming that 22 players off the street could win two games, the source said.
Let’s put it this way, had a Raiders fan popped off to a Chiefs fan with such a punky statement, chances are he’d be eating through a straw for more than one meal. Granted the 2008 Chiefs stunk up the joint, fans not only know it they still feel the sting of it. Having the new head coach rubbing salt in that wound isn’t the best way to begin a long-term relationship.
The above references will undoubtedly need to be swept under the rug and accepted as character traits and growing pains by fans and those examining Scott Pioli. Forgive and forget is an all-important rule in all relationships and applicable here as well.
But strategic blunders brushed off with pompous explanation laced in experience and expertise, highlighted by arrogant tones, not only harms the valued trust level within the locker-room and stadium seats but more importantly, harm is done to the efforts of producing a consistent winner.
The Kansas City Chiefs have toiled long enough in the darkness of obscurity to endure continued failure at the hands of yet another uncommitted self-absorbed regime.