Button Pushing … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs


We all have buttons. I’m not talking about what might be on the shirt you are wearing or in the waistband of your trousers or dress.

It’s the buttons that can be pushed into our personality, our psyche, our minds, our hearts, even our souls. Maybe you don’t realize you have those types of buttons, but you do … we all do.

And, there are people in this world that push the buttons of other people. Whether it’s family, friends, neighbors or co-workers, these folks know exactly what to say, what to do and when to make it happen to create the greatest reaction.

That would be Todd Haley. Pushing the buttons of those players and other people that work for him is a large part of his daily duties as head coach. It’s all about discovering what makes people tick, what they find most important, what motivates them on an individual basis. When Haley finds those buttons, he’s not afraid to draw them out when the time is right.

Quite frankly, Haley is a button pushing fool. That’s part of what happened Sunday on the Chiefs sidelines at Arrowhead Stadium. The tiff that went down between Haley and QB Matt Cassel during the second quarter against the Vikings looked like two stubborn competitors having a disagreement, allowing their emotions out and verbally directing their frustrations towards the other.

This display bothered some people that think it was a sign of internal discord within the team, and a lack of respect for a player by a coach, and/or disrespect of a coach by a player. It was video of an out of control coach in the mind of some that decided several years ago Haley is a raving lunatic. In the mind of folks who long ago have thrown away any boarding passes for the Cassel bandwagon it was video of a quarterback that can’t take the pressure of the NFL.

But maybe, just maybe it was something else. Maybe, it was just another moment where Haley pushed the buttons, and did it on purpose. Possibly it was the head coach waiting for his chance to send a message to his quarterback. If Haley made a to-do list for Sunday’s game, maybe we might find a notation – get under Cassel’s skin and get him fired up – right next to items like find that crusty old hat I wore last year and throw my razor away; I’m going with the scruffy look.

Consider the people involved, the circumstances of the Chiefs season and game, and consider the incident that set fire to the fuse. There’s far more here than just two guys calling each other names and using words that won’t get repeated in a family web site. Haley provoked a confrontation. He wanted Cassel to get upset.


Whether those Cassel-haters want to accept this, the quarterback is this team’s leader. He’s not just the offensive leader, but the team leader. There’s no personality on the defense that’s bigger than the quarterback.

In many ways Cassel is perfect for the job. He’s smart, dedicated, likeable, willing to share himself and his time and he simply can’t be outworked. He sets a great example for those on his team on how to live life and be a professional.

But the team leader also has to be willing to take charge verbally. He has to be able to pull a teammate aside and correct his play, behavior or habits. He must be the voice for the team, while also being an extension of the head coach, whether on the field or in the locker room.

And he also has to be willing to occasionally tell the head coach he’s full of it.

Nobody knows this better than the head coach himself. It’s the Parcellsian method of coaching that Haley learned from the master. Some players react to yelling. Some react to quiet aside. Some don’t seem to react to anything but a pitched fit in front of millions of people. Some players don’t show themselves unless some of their money is taken away. There are 60+ personalities in the locker room and no two are exactly the same.

In dealing with this menagerie, every coach works hard to build within each player the ability to deal with the pressure that comes with playing professional football. Just like you can’t make steel without a blast furnace, a tough-minded football player can’t be made without putting him through some heat. Any coach alive would rather create that heat in practice during the week, than wait for a game on Sunday to see how he reacts.

Haley wanted Cassel to react on Sunday. The quarterback had thrown a game ending interception the week before and while he said he’d put it behind him, maybe that wasn’t so visible to the head coach. Haley saw something he wanted his quarterback to understand, call it a coaching point.

But it provided the opportunity not only to make that point, but to provoke. It’s all part of Button Pushing 101.

“There are certain critical factors that you’re ability to succeed comes down to – and if you’re not doing those, then it’s going to be a problem with the overall execution,” Haley said on Monday. “There’s got to be something to provoke a reaction though. In some cases those are a little easier to find than others.”

Haley found one on Sunday. It’s all part of his duties as the franchise’s No. 1 button pusher.

26 Responses to “Button Pushing … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 4, 2011  - TDKC says:

    I hope he is pushing Baldwin’s buttons now so he’ll be ready to hit the field running.

  • October 4, 2011  - Milkman says:

    It was good to see Cassel play with a purpose for a change Sunday. We’ll be no better off though if his buttons need to be punched to see it every time we play. The button punching is nice, but it does have a shelf life to consider. After a while it just won’t work.

  • October 4, 2011  - Petey says:

    Loved seeing that on Sunday and as long as it isn’t happening every weekend, it’s a good, healthy thing. Anyone who is overly concerned about that ‘discussion’ has obviously never played sports at any level beyond t-ball or pee wee football.

  • October 4, 2011  - Michael says:

    So right, TDKC. Hope his button is the size of a dinner plate. With oconnel being inept, the offense needs him badly. Besides, I can’t wait to see the three B’s running around terrifying defenses.


  • October 4, 2011  - Steve says:

    Bob, good column. Cassel’s performance against the Vikings and the Dec 26, 2010 game against Tennessee are two bookends of a long winless spell. As Bob pointed out last month, the Titans game was when Haley put too much brake on when he benched Cassel in the middle of a red hot performance – http://www.bobgretz.com/chiefs-football/hope-lives-in-a-do-or-die-football-moment.html#more-23663. Maybe Haley adjusted his approach and found the button to bring the fire back. But Haley should also remember he may have only fixed what he broke in December.

  • October 4, 2011  - jim says:

    While I agree that Cassell’s buttons need to be pushed, it’s also obvious to me that the elite QB’s find ways to push their OWN buttons. Point is, as we sit here today discussing this, Cassell is no where being an elite QB………….AND WE NEED ONE!And as long as somebody else needs to nudge him along and push his little buttons for him, we ain’t ther nor are we gettig closer.

    Somebody needs to step up or get off the pot. Don’t know if Cassell is ready or capable. all I know is what I see…..and it ain’t pretty.

    I did appreciate his emotions in the second half. At least he wasn’t afraid to show that side of him. I need more of that, Mr. Cassell, PLEASE!

  • October 4, 2011  - el cid says:

    I may be in the minority but do the Chiefs want a raving looney as HC. In the heat of the game, don’t you want a HC who is in control of himself and the team. That is not Haley’s style and it may be useful for the Chiefs right now but for the long haul. Can a HC scream and yell all the time before the team starts to ignor the message and the messenger?

    I doubt Haley can stay for the long haul.

  • October 4, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    I remember an ex-wife of mine. She was the queen of button pushers. Not just my button, anybodys button. Her intent was to provoke anger & discontent and she usually got the results she was after.
    As Bob stated, Haley was calling out Cassel to be the man and take control of the field, execute “all” plays & get fired up. The resulting “calling out” Cassel proved to be successful. Good job coach Haley. We can all agree Matty Boy has been a lousy QB going back to the last few games of 2010. He has lacked in confidence, fortitude, vision and most of all leadership. To me he seemed a little bit mousie and feeling sorry for himself type crap.
    We all want Baldwin to get on the field and show us what he’s got. I think he will be a good one for us this year. We want him to be a deep threat on the field and stretching out the defense. My biggest concern with that is whether we have a QB that can throw the long ball both accurately and consistently. I don’t think we do, at least if his last name is Cassel. We shall see.
    Go Chiefs.

  • October 4, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Great column.

    I’m not a Cassel hater. I’m a Cassel doubter. I want him to succeed but he seems to be a “Yo-Yo” player. There’s no better person than Cassel. He’s easy to root for. But his lows are too low and his ceiling seems to be that of a good player, not a great one.

    That doesn’t make Cassel a bad guy, it just drives down the percentages of the Chiefs consistently reaching the playoffs.

    Cassel doesn’t seem to have a strong suit: Not a great arm, not great accuracy, not great downfield vision and maybe not all that good at reading defenses. The thing is, he’s pretty damn athletic and he hasn’t used his legs nearly enough. Cassel could loosen up defenses if he would run more. Yes, it would open him up to injury, but I don’t see how he can under-utilize the one thing that separates him from most QB’s.

    QB draws should be re-introduced to the playbook. And Cassel should be challenged to find more opportunities to pick up yards and slide to prevent the hits.

    Cassel has to use every tool in his tool box. If the coaches are holding him back from running more, then I think they are limiting Cassel’s opportunities to succeed.

  • October 4, 2011  - ED J says:

    Great article i agree with most of you in that at some point Cassel just needs to play with that fire every Sunday not jus when coach yells at him. I agree also he isnt all that talented as far as arm strength and accuracy goes so he needs play with that fire every month. El cid now you same guy that critcized Herm for being too laid back on Sundays. Secondly in world of millionare athletes you need a butt kicker as head coach. Athletes are idolized and pampered l the time you need coach that is going to keep them in line

  • October 4, 2011  - Tim says:

    Good article Bob. I too like Cassel. However,as others have posted (and as I have), I believe he’s very limited & his ceiling is relative to those around him, etc. Haley knows what he’s doing. He knows this is what he has to work with & understands he must get it out of Cassel because there is no better alternative at this time. Its troubling though that this has to be done to a starting NFL qb. That’s why this team will need something more from the next player to occupy this position in the future.

  • October 4, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Good article. I would have to join the Cassel Doubter Club. Not a hater…just feel like he has been given the time and patience but has not made a good return on that investment. Inconsistent play. Bonehead mistakes. Doesn’t lift those around him.

    I’m kind of surprised that Cassel is claimed to be the leader of this team. I don’t think one would get that impression seeing the team from the outside. You don’t see him motivating on the sidelines. He doesn’t show any fight when he gets hit…to either the opponent or the Chief that didn’t do his job. Players don’t rush to his aid. He doesn’t seem ready to play when the game starts.

    I hope for the best for Cassel…but short of him taking the Chiefs to the Super Bowl this year…I’m ready to move on next season. (I don’t think Cassel will ever win a Playoff game much less a Super Bowl. Prove me wrong.)

  • October 4, 2011  - JB says:

    The deal is for $63 million, with $28 million guaranteed, according to a source. He’s going to make $40.5 million in the first three years of his contract.

    I’m thinkin that Matt told Todd to KHA and that the Matt will continue to play like he has a guaranteed payday and the much lower paid coach will just have to deal with it

  • October 4, 2011  - rufus says:

    Matty C is a socal sissy. he’s a LL baseball hero but this aint LL and Haley aint LL either. Haley’s been clear in my opinion. He said give Matt 4 or 5 games after the Lions debacle. This was game four. Hello fire breather. Cassel better shut up and win.

  • October 4, 2011  - Michael says:


    Bitter much.

  • October 5, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Well, I saw the whole drama play out right in front of my seats at Arrowhead. I believe Bob has hit the nail on the head with his article.
    For you Cassel haters as Bob calls you…
    Sanchez absolutely sucks a$$. Freeman isn’t any better than Cassel. Name 10 NFL QB’s better than him. You can’t. We have to hope Cassel succeeds for the Chiefs to win.
    Stanzi, btw is an idiot. He is too busy talking to the kickers to learn anything when the QB’s and coaches are working during the games.

  • October 5, 2011  - tuan says:

    hey Cychief24. here you go.

    Aaron Rodgers.
    Tom Brady.
    Peyton Manning.
    Drew brees.
    Philip Rivers.
    Eli Manning.
    Matt stafford.
    Ben Roethlisberger.
    Matt ryan.
    Michael vick.
    Joe Flacco.
    Matt Schaub.
    josh Freeman.
    don’t give me wrong I would love to see cassel do well and that will equal more wins and they don’t have to spend the high draft choice on the quarterback cause they will that pick for O line or D line player but it’s what it’s he (Cassel)just not good enough and that the bottom line.
    and I will take any of the quaterbacks above over him righ now straight up.

  • October 5, 2011  - Kenneth says:

    Cassel was rated in the top 10 last year (7th ?) and he only had one good wr, he didn’t suddenly have a drop of IQ or forget how to play so the answer lies elsewhere. This entire team (offense, defense and including Charles up till he got injured) they all pretty much blew chunks up until the SD game where they at least played well enough to give themselves a chance to win.

  • October 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    cychief really Cassel top 10. Do your homework you sound like the guy that would try to convince me Tebow is better than half of guys in the league LMAO. Compare Cassel career numbers with any of the guys on Tuan list. Heck compare this year’s numbers. I can add another 10 on top of Tuan list. Lets be real about Cassel is solid QB yet to be seen if he is kind of guy that can carry an offense. He’ll get this season to prove that. Hopefully for us Chiefs fans he can because none of us want the stink of losing. And Kenneth please that was 1yr that doesn’t put you in HOF having one good yr. Ask Derek Anderson or Scott Mitchell.

  • October 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    There’s been plenty of 1yr wonders whether in sports or music

  • October 5, 2011  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Top ten is not a strech for Cassel if he keeps flinging it. I was a doubter until about game 5 or 6 last year. He won me over he kept getting better. I thought we might have a really good QB. I haven’t seen a weak or inacurate arm. I’ve seen him throw bullets on the money. I’ve also seen him look aweful. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I want this team and coach become really good and I’m too old to keep starting over

  • October 5, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    After the first 5 you list…the rest are just as dependent on the weapons they have as Cassel.
    Right now Cassel has DBowe and zip as weapons with Moeaki, Charles and #1 pick Baldwin out.

    You clowns go on hating… I’m going to sit in my season tickets for the 34th year and cheer for Cassel to lead our Chiefs back to the playoffs like he did last year.

    Stanshi can’t beat out Palko. But if we draft someone down the road that beats out Cassel, I’ll cheer for them too.

  • October 5, 2011  - Michael says:

    I have no problem with Haley’s yelling, none. It has worked for Parcells and a lot of other coaches. It’s good for coaches and players to get fired up, IMO.

    Not a Cassel hater…I want Cassel to succeed, and I think he can to some degree, but he is the type of QB that must have a lot of talent playing at a hight level on the whole team, offense, defense, special teams. With that and learning to play consitently, as someone else on here said, with an edge, he could be a solid to very good QB. I’d love to see him do it. But, if KC has any chance to land a young QB like Luck, Landry Jones, Barkley, etc. they have to go for it. More so than ever, the NFL of today is all about the trigger man. I’m old school enough to love great defenses and great running games, but I think today’s game requires a big-time QB, even if a team has those other attributes, to win consistently over the course of years.

  • October 5, 2011  - ED J says:

    MIchael by far best blog i ever read I agree with that 110%

  • October 6, 2011  - tuan says:

    it’s very nice of you to call people Name, but get what ? that doesn’t going to change people opinoin and fact, you can sit there and cheer all you want and wait for the miracle to happen or (think straigh)and hope our favorite team recognize the talent level and get some good player in here to win some thing more than just make it to playoff once every fews year and lose.

  • October 6, 2011  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Tuan, that is unreadable babble

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