Monday, January 16, 2012

Thinking Out Loud: 'Arrowhead Anxiety' Piece Confuses

Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star writes, in addition to solid columns for the newspaper, a blog for the paper's Web site. You should check it out, and participate in his Twitter Tuesday feature, but don't do what I'm doing in this post. That's not the point of the feature.

I put this together as a post, not because I want to make Mellinger work harder by clicking a link, or because I’m interested in page views; the only traffic this blog gets comes from random Google image searches from a silly feature we used to do a few years ago, and why change that now? The thought is that it’s easier for him to read all of it in one place, rather than trying to piece together @mentions –- no way I can keep this to 140 characters or less -- from my Twitter handle. That said…

I thought Kent Babb’s Arrowhead Anxiety piece was a great example of journalism and reporting. I told him so, and asked him how he felt about it, but got no response.

The reason I wanted to know how he felt about it is similar to why I’m asking you about it today: What does this story do for the Kansas City community and the Chiefs fan base? Is it designed to show Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli that there are ways around their efforts toward secrecy and accountability?

Does it aim to show Chiefs fans that the organization’s brass is, perhaps, focusing on the wrong things? Is it a quiet vote for Todd Haley’s on-an-island methods of madness? Does it suggest that Romeo Crennel (and really any head coach Pioli hires) is, in a sense, being set up for failure?

I mean, I just don’t get it. So the Chiefs general manager keeps tabs on a candy wrapper in a stair well, and pores over phone logs, and makes staff-department members feel as though they’re not allowed to comingle, or that their moves are monitored. If the organization is committed to winning championships, and we know fans of the team want the same, how does exposing the regime’s heavy-handedness advance anything beyond the essence of one particular piece of journalism?

I feel like the media members in this community are either admitted fans of the teams they cover, or they’re adept enough to maintain the expected role of an impartial reporter, but they’re quietly rooting for the success of the clubs they cover. It’s no secret that Babb does a fantastic job as a Chiefs beat writer, and he appears to wish well for the club and its personnel on the field. I’m just having a hard time understanding the point of the piece.

My guess is that Babb is proud of the piece, or he wouldn’t have submitted it, but my confusion centers on how it advances discussion. Are we supposed to be mad at the Chiefs? Are we supposed to think that a lot of those employees are thin-skinned, or that people, for the most part, don’t like change?

The Kansas City Chiefs kept a lot of their front-office administrators in place until the Carl Peterson era came in, and when they made changes, the club went from a joke to a serious, annual, post-season contender. It wasn’t enough, and change was necessary again. This time, the change included the owner, and perhaps Lamar Hunt’s son is going to be less loyal than his father was, all at the expense of winning a Super Bowl.

Maybe Scott Pioli is a little nutty, and maybe the point of the piece was to show that. Or maybe it was just to get readers to think, regardless of direction.


Greg D Metz said...

It appears the point might be that the general manager is fostering an environment in which a head coach can not succeed. Additionally, this environment may be driving away quality employees and making working together towards a collective objective (winning) more difficult. This would be noteworthy to fans, especially season ticket holders, no?

You like to point and laugh at dysfunction with other franchises, but when it's reavealed with your own then you miss the point?

bankmeister said...

Very solid points, sir. I appreciate your comment because I really wanted to know what others thought. You're correct: it is noteworthy to fans and season-ticket holders, but it deflates any remaining notion of hope that Pioli was supposed to be the answer to the championship drought.

As a Raiders fan, were you in support of the Jackson firing? What about dismissing Haley?

As for your final thought/question, all I can say is that this is what a lifetime of devotion to the Kansas City Chiefs has left me with: laughing at the misfortune of my team's rivals, which is what I was touching on in my tweet yesterday about being a loser football fan.

Greg D Metz said...

I like Hue, but I think in most cases it probably makes sense to allow a new GM to do as he wishes from a coaching standpoint. Hue's negatives outweighed his positives, but he had more positives than any head coach in Oakland since Gruden if that makes sense. I'm hoping the days of ownership interference in football operations are done and that this coaching change is a reflection of that. Of course, nothing is that simple in Oakland and it remains unclear who fired Hue.

I tend to think Haley got a raw deal. I think that he, too, can succeed somewhere else in the future.

I'm very skeptical that Pioli can lead KC to sustained success, but you probably guessed that from an Oakland fan.