Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Because I've Always Dug the Dude...

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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.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Queue the "Dukes of Hazzard" Theme Song

Alright. Got a day off, and I've got plenty to say about my re-entrance into the realm of industry hospitality, and I'm certain that will entertain a grand total of nobody. In the interim, however, I've got to sort out a few things about the good ol' Kansas City Chiefs, the good ol' Denver Broncos, and the good-ol'-boy-network known as the National Football League.

If you're unfamiliar with my ramblings on this blog, it may be news to you that I am not a fan of Colorado's professional football club. I'm not going to bash them today, though. They stunned everyone -- most notably Mike Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers -- yesterday by advancing to the divisional round of the NFL's post-season. Yes, the Steelers were badly hobbled, and no, nobody thought Tim Tebow and company would orchestrate a 300-yard-passing afternoon. Here's the long and short of the contest, though: You're the number-one passing defense in the league. You lose the coin toss to start overtime, and you therefore, are perhaps thinking of coming up with some huge defensive schemes and plays in order to gain possession of the football.

Yes, that was the debut of new post-season overtime rules, so yes -- you might want to come out prepared for the first play from scrimmage. And, by "prepared," I mean send someone into pass coverage. Someone. Anyone. I mean, you don't wanna get torched on an 80-yard touchdown pass and get sent packing before the first overtime commercial break, do you?

Nevertheless, a Denver win. Congratulations to John Fox and his squad.

That brings me to today, though, and if you are familiar with my tiresome drawl on this site, you know that I think the incestuous nature of this league is filthy and disgusting. Every regular season concludes with some head-coaching vacancies, and inevitably, the same old retreads get drug out from behind the last wood shed to which they were cast, and we see the same has-beens give it a go in a new city.

It's annoying, yes, but for the most part, tolerable.

There appears, though, to be some sort of leap-year cycle in football, wherein the whole concept of good ol' boys giving their good, old pals new jobs in different regimes, finds new ceilings, and right now we're in the midst of one of those unprecedented -- at least in my football-viewing liftime -- heights.

I'm not documenting all of this to educate anyone. Rather, it's an exercise for myself, one in which I can attempt to make some sense of it all.

Several seasons ago, Mike Shanahan was fired by Pat Bowlen, and shortly thereafter, Clark Hunt and newly appointed Scott Pioli opted to not retain the services of Herman Edwards. As you may know, Pioli -- then dubbed the top G.M. candidate in football -- is betrothed to a young woman whose father goes by the name of Bill Parcells.

Now, us fans (and lowly bloggers) never know what really goes on inside the NFL's inner circles, so we're left to speculate, and this is what I'm doing here, so keep that in mind.

Pioli gets the job in Kansas City, and it was reported that he wanted to -- shocker -- go to the New England Patriots staff and pick his coach from that crew of knuckleheads, his choice being none other than then-Patriots-offensive-coordinator Josh McDaniels. Denver Bronco G.M. Brian Xander, however, beat him to the punch and hired McDaniels first. This left Pioli to go all Galactic and call up his father-in-law for some advice.

Parcells, having worked with Todd Haley in both New York and Dallas, recommended the then-Arizona-Cardinals offensive coordinator, who happened to have just been one Santonio Holmes touchdown catch away from winning a Super Bowl, so it made sense.

Next, Pioli needed a quarterback for his Chiefs, so he -- shocker -- went to the New England well again, and pulled a trade to get the then-franchise-tagged Matt Cassel, which was who McDaniels also wanted to get to call signals for his Broncos. Somehow, word of this Denver-based desire leaked out, and pissed off then-incumbent-starter Jay Cutler, who threw a tantrum and demanded a trade, which he got.

The swap of Cutler for Kyle Orton, if I remember correctly, netted the Broncos a nice bundle of draft picks, which McDaniels then, quite literally, blew the following season, so he could obtain the services of Tebow. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, Pioli went -- yes, a third shocker -- back to his Foxboro roots once more and obtained the services of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel to coordinate both sides of the non-special-teams football.

In the midst of McDaniels' and Haley's second seasons in charge of their respective clubs, the former's squad crushed the latter's and an infamous post-game display of unaffection ensued:

Later in the campaign, Haley's Chiefs (barely) defeated McDaniels' Broncos and the latter was relieved of his duties, courtesy of both a late-season collapse and some hidden-camera shenanigans that McDaniels likely -- shocker number four -- learned from watching his boss Bill Belichick in New England.

That brings us to this year, which featured McDaniels leading an inept St. Louis Rams offense to a two-win effort, and Haley getting fired with three games to go in the regular season. Mind you, the future of the Denver franchise that McDaniels rolled the dice on (read: #15) took over the starting job for Orton, and the former Bear was cut. Kansas City, being without the services of Matt Cassel, claimed Orton off of the waiver wire, and promptly defeated the lossless, defending-Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers.

The Chiefs then lose an overtime contest to the Oakland Raiders, courtesy of not one, but two, field-goal attempts blocked by former Patriot Richard Seymour. Kansas City then travelled to Denver, and won a snooze fest over the Broncos, 7-3. It should be noted that said snooze fest featured Orton returning to Denver to defeat his former backup. Tebow and crew, however, eked into the playoffs thanks to a San Diego Chargers victory over the Raiders.

As the buzz of the regular season was still fizzling, New England sent the NFL TPS reports to obtain the services of the now-fired-from-St. Louis McDaniels, who, rumor had it, Pioli had been eyeballing for some position or other in Kansas City.

Following the conclusion of yesterday's wildcard weekend, McDaniels is now on the Patriot staff as an offensive assistant, and will be the club's coordinator next season, meaning that his first assignment is to help guide New England to victory over the franchise that fired him, a franchise led by the quarterback for whom he mortgaged the club's draft picks obtained in the Cutler-Orton trade.

And, back in the midwest, the Chiefs have named Crennel the new head coach, while the Rams appear ready to ink a deal with Jeff Fisher. Reports from Twitter over the weekend indicated that the recently fired Haley and Tony Sparano will be involved in hedging the new offensive plan for St. Louis. Sparano is coming off a once-impressive, mostly disappointing tenure as main man in Miami, and was put there by Parcells. Parcells, no longer employed by the Dolphins, is suspected to be replaced by Carl Peterson, who Scott Pioli replaced in Kansas City.

Basically, the only fresh face in the mix is John Fox in Denver. He has McDaniels' old job and McDaniels' old quarterback. Kansas City has Denver's old quarterback, New England's old quarterback (both of whom are also McDaniels' old quarterbacks), New England's old defensive coordinator, and if you want to add another layer to the mix: the third quarterback on the Chiefs roster is a kid out of Iowa, one of Pioli's favorite places to draft since he's chums with coach Kirk Ferentz.

Haley's in line to take (some form of) McDaniels' old job, along with Sparano, who came from Parcells, who will likely be replaced by Peterson. And McDaniels, in case you didn't catch it, is charged with attempting to defeat the signal caller he so coveted two drafts ago.

In other NFL playoff news, the Saints -- semi-loaded with former Chargers A.J. Smith decided not to keep -- will attempt to knock off Jim Harbaugh (former Bear QB) and the San Francisco 49ers, while the Packers will take on Eli Manning -- who refused to play for the team (San Diego) that drafted him and the New York Giants. Tom Coughlin's Giants made a mockery of the Thomas Dimitroff (another branch of the Pioli tree)'s Atlanta Falcons yesterday, leaving Tony Gonzalez -- who didn't want to stick around for yet another Kansas City rebuild -- with one less playoff win than Tim Tebow (Editor's Note: I'm still kicking myself for not tweeting that first yesterday.).

The other AFC matchup will feature Harbaugh's brother John and the Baltimore Ravens versus the Houston Texans, led by former Shanahan assistant Gary Kubiak.

So, there. None of that's news, really. I just had to suss it out for myself, and decide, after doing so, if I really felt as coated in six layers of Arkansas-truck-bed sibling lust as I thought I did.

Verdict: I do.


Go Broncos! (Note: No, not really.)
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