Defining Character …. Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s one of the great dichotomies of football. Teams like players that are willing to do things that would get them arrested if it happened on a city street. Teams would like those same players to check that aggressive and sometimes rude behavior at the white stripes and behave off-the-field like solid, law abiding citizens.

Inflict punishment on the field while off the field, help a little old lady cross the street; every team in the league seeks those types of players. That personality group is out there and available among the young men that play the game. But they are not always easy to find or cultivate.

No team in the league makes more noise about finding players of character than the Chiefs of Pioli/Haley. From the first day they were in the building, the general manager and the head coach have used the term “the right 53″ when describing their attitude towards personnel. A player’s talent is not what makes him attractive to Pioli/Haley. It’s his personality, work ethic, character and determination, or at least that’s what they say.

According to them, character is the biggest foundation block in re-building the Hunt Family franchise.

Over this past weekend, the local media got caught up in the character issue. Despite the fact it’s been repeated ad nauseam since they arrived in Kansas City, it seems the Chiefs 2010 Draft class finally convinced the scribes and golden throats that this is truly the Pioli/Haley approach.

They regurgitated the mantra of character and the “right 53″ so much in their stories from the Draft that Pioli felt obliged to mention that the team did select some guys who could play football.

“We want to make sure it’s understood that we went out and got good football players here too,” Pioli offered to the media.

There are two words that often send mixed messages when talking about football players: toughness and character. Many define toughness as aggressiveness and the willingness to mix it up with an opponent. The guy with blood oozing out of his nose is considered a tough guy.

Football coaches tend to define toughness more on mental and emotional levels, rather than just physical. Is a player tough enough to do the right thing at the right time? Can he control himself and not lose his cool in pressure situations? Players that get that done are tough.

Character is another word with multiple definitions. Maybe more accurately in the case of what the Chiefs hierarchy is talking about, multiple layers. Pioli said when he and Haley took over the team last year they found a roster filled with players of character.

“I think there are a number of people on this team who are strong character guys that we inherited,” Pioli said. “Again, there are always a couple individuals in every locker room where it is not perfect, and it is never going to be perfect. As much as we try to get 100 percent perfect, when you have 53 guys in a locker room, it is never going to be perfect (see Larry Johnson.) But I think there is a pretty good foundation of some solid citizens here.

“And I think those players needed to learn some things too.”

When Pioli and Haley talk about character, they are talking about more than players being good, law-abiding people. They are talking about players having a high level of football character, traits that are defined by words like reliable, available, determined, unselfish and prepared.

“We just had a guy, Brian Waters who was the NFL Man of the Year; that’s talking about a personal character standpoint,” Pioli said. “But Brian is a guy who went through the season last year, he had an ankle (injury) and everyone saw him go down during training camp. He came back; his football character is pretty darn strong. I think there are some other guys here, the Mike Vrabels, the Matt Cassels; I think there are a number of good people that are here.

“Some of these young players need to learn a little bit more about football character,” Pioli added. “They need to learn better work habits.”

In the view of the Chiefs and their personnel process, it’s about being a professional, approaching the game with passion, dedication and focus.

“Here is what happens in this game; we all know there are good times and bad times,” said Pioli. “In bad times you have to be able to have people that you can depend on, rely upon, that instead of jumping off the ship, they are going to try and find a way to rally together.

“The most successful teams at their core had a lot of people with strong football character.”

Larry Johnson’s character was in some question during his entire time with the team. When the “you know what” finally hit the fan – first with Herm Edwards and then with Pioli/Haley – it came when his football character fell apart. Johnson was not on time, he did not pay attention and he was not accountable to his teammates and coaches.

Pioli was asked if he would like to have a player in the mold of Lawrence Taylor (right), a Hall of Fame talent on the field and a reprobate off the field.

“I would love a Lawrence Taylor,” Pioli said. “What you want is the greater core of your team to be the right kind of guys. It is like a family; there are going to be some strays here and there. Even the players who act out differently, if they are buying into what you are trying to accomplish, you can do it, you can win.

“It is never going to be perfect, no matter how you try; it is never going to be perfect.”

There will come a time when Pioli/Haley grabs a player or two that may not have the highest level of personal character. At that time, they will balance the player’s ability against his behavior.

“If I was being judged here today by the way I acted when I was 21 years old, I probably wouldn’t be sitting at this table,” Pioli said. “People change, people buy into things at different times and people have different reasons for buying in. Sometimes when people get tired of their life and/or situation or their professional situation in terms of wins and losses, they are willing to buy in differently or to do things a different way because their goals change.

“I believe in second chances, I believe in sometimes third chances because people change. It is a very delicate balance between trying to make the right decisions for the people that are depending on you or depending on me to make the right decisions and going over board and judging people too harshly.”

BIG BEN HAS SOMETHING TO SAY … SORT OF

Suspended Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger issued a statement on Monday through the Steelers saying that he will not fight the six-game suspension handed to him by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

“The Commissioner’s decision to suspend me speaks clearly that more is expected of me. I am accountable for the consequences of my actions.  Though I have committed no crime, I regret that I have fallen short of the values instilled in me by my family.  I will not appeal the suspension and will comply with what is asked of me — and more. Missing games will be devastating for me. I am sorry to let down my teammates and the entire Steelers fan base.  I am disappointed that I have reached this point and will not put myself in this situation again.

“I appreciate the opportunities that I have been given in my life and will make the necessary improvements.”

At some point if Roethlisberger hopes to get a second/third/fourth chance with the Steelers Nation, he needs to speak directly to the fans, without a script written for him by his public relations people. Currently, he is being evaluated by medical and psychological personnel to begin his treatment program that is required from the discipline handed him by Goodell.

IS JOHN HENDERSON THE ANSWER TO THE CHIEFS RUN STOPPING NEED?

On Monday, the Jacksonville Jaguars released veteran DT John Henderson.

On Wednesday, Henderson will be in Kansas City visiting with the Chiefs. If all things work out, it would not be a surprise if Henderson was dressed in red and gold by Thursday morning.

There’s no question of the need the Chiefs have for help in the middle of their defense. If there’s anything left in Henderson’s tank, he will be an upgrade. The question is whether there’s many plays left in his 6-7, 335-pound body. He was a first-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2002 NFL Draft out of Tennessee, starting 120 of 128 games for Jacksonville since then. Henderson missed only four games over his career.

Last year, Henderson played in 15 games, starting 10 at defensive tackle and five at defensive end. He had 60 total tackles, with three sacks. He turned 31 back in January and this will be his ninth season of play in the NFL. He has 29 career sacks, but only seven have come in the last three seasons. Henderson made the Pro Bowl twice.

PERSONNEL FILE/MONDAY, APRIL 26

  • BUCCANEERS – released FB B.J. Askew, D Chris Hovan, G Arron Sears, G Shawn Murphy, CB Stoney Woodson and P Sam Paulescu.
  • JAGUARS – released DT John Henderson, LB Brian Iwuh, DT Montavious Stanley and LB Tank Daniels; withdrew tender offer to RFA LB Clint Ingram.
  • PACKERS – LB Jeremy Thompson announced his retirement due to a neck injury suffered last season.
  • PATRIOTS – released LB Adalius Thomas.
  • RAIDERS – agreed to terms with RB Rock Cartwright.

31 Responses to “Defining Character …. Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 27, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Somebody, maybe it was Ernest Hemingway, described courage as “grace under pressure”. That seems to cover one aspect “mental toughness” about which Scott Pioli was commenting.
    Such behavior is evident when a player hands the football to the ref–a la Marcus Allen–after scoring a touchdown, or when a player ignores the baiting remarks of an opponent, thereby avoiding a flag for fighting.

    But the mental toughness/courage thing also carries over into off the field behavior. Given the kid glove treatment star athletes often receive over the years, this particular aspect of team sports seems to crying for attention. Kudos to the Chiefs for emphasizing it.


  • April 27, 2010  - The Morning Fix | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] Defining Character …. Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs-BobGretz.com [...]


  • April 27, 2010  - aPauled says:

    It is time for the Chiefs to undo a mistake. In 2002, the Chiefs had the #8 choice and needed a DT. Big John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth both from Tennessee were the options. Dick Vermeil didn’t like Henderson’s height assuming he would get “chopped” on the line. On draft day, the Chiefs traded up to #6 to get Ryan Sims and set in motion the pattern of draft day mistakes with the DL. If only the Chiefs had stayed put and drafted John Henderson or even Albert Haynesworth in 2002.


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    aPauled,

    Don’t forget…Dwight Freeny was right there for the taking, too. The Colts took him with the #11th pick.


  • April 27, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Jarrad page no longer one of the “Right 53″? Or what’s wrong with him not signing?


  • April 27, 2010  - ChiefAddiction63 says:

    @aPauled, you can’t undo a mistake, this is not the same JH of 2002. He MAY be a slight improvement over what the Chiefs have now, but I think his biggest impact will be to improve the performance of the others on the line with his presence. It’s too early to say Jackson or Dorsey is a bust, like some are saying. Dorsey is a 4-3 guy trying to play a 3-4 and will now be under his 3rd defensive coordinater in 3 years.


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    It’s fairly common, KC_Guy. Page was the last one to sign last year, too (in May). They could very well be working on a longer-term deal.


  • April 27, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    With our signings, I think Pages leverage has went down, he better sign what he is being offered!


  • April 27, 2010  - el cid says:

    Many want to give non all pro talent extra time to “develope”. Plain and simple, some do not make it. Or worse do not fit in the current style of play. We need to give Haley and his coaches the decision here, their careers depend on their skills to use players. That said their is a shelf life with a team when it does not work out. Since we are talking defense, Crennel may get something out of Dorsey to knudge him into a dominate player. Jackson is only in his second year so no one knows what he is, although as many keep dreaming about his upside as say he is a bust (wasted effort on both sides). But like the 2010 draft, this year will show fans a lot about what we have and who stays or goes.

    On Offense, D Bowe is in his 4th year, time to put up or move on. Looking at this battle closely.


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Completely agree with you on Bowe, el cid. I think this will be the year where we find out what kind of player he really is. And I can see it going either way, actually. I still think the only thing holding Bowe back, is himself.


  • April 27, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    I thought Mr. Bowe would be all of what Tony G. was or that of T.O. — You see all those guys catching throw after throw at the Combine , and when he gets a pass comming at him —Its like he’s thinking of something else —It’s scary .


  • April 27, 2010  - el cid says:

    Do not remember Bowe ever being compared in talent to Tony G or, for gosh sakes, TO. More of a strong kid who could out play DBs. Do not recall anyone noticing his lack of hands for ordinary, run-of-the-mill catches. It is all mental, after 3 years of watching him drop the easy catch hopefully the Chiefs have had his eyes tested.

    If it is mental, he should be gone. He still could be a good #2 with another team, say GB. Also Cassel’s lack of pinpoint passing may be a factor, but Cassel is going no where for at least 2 more years.


  • April 27, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    el cid,

    I think if Cassel is a huge bust this year, Pioli has the balls to get someone else and not wait just because Cassel was Pioli’s choice. do I think he will bust? no, but we have to have a better cast around him as well!!

    As for Bowe, I think he could be one of the best recievers in the league, but until he gets rid of his butterfingers, he wont. and I think if Haley cant get his head on stright, nobody will be able too


  • April 27, 2010  - el cid says:

    Even if Cassel is a bust:

    Only #1 QB we have. Has to play next year, so replacement can learn the system, ie college qb will need a year to mature and learn the system. That means 2 years. Not sure how he can be made more accurate but got to hope because we have passed on so many college possibilities.

    There are several hundred WR who could be “the best” in the league but they do not. Why, because only so many have the extra something to drive they to the top. Have not seen a sign of it in Bowe.


  • April 27, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I think D-Bowe and DJ are the same player, atleast right now. They both show “flashes” of a great player, but thats all it ever is, “flashes”


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Bowe just stikes me as being perfectly content being average. He doesn’t seem to want to put in the work that would separate him from all the other average receivers in the league. I think he could be great. But, he’s going to have to want to be. And I’m just not sure he does.

    I disagree (again) on Cassel. He plays much better this year…or I think he’s gone. His contract was written to allow the Chiefs to dump him after two years, for next to nothing. Smart move by Pioli. I like Cassel, so I really do hope he improves this year. Plus, I have no idea what “Plan B” would be.


  • April 27, 2010  - Niblick says:

    gorillafan,

    I totally agree. If Cassell fails this year, I don’t think Pioli would hesitate to go a different direction. I don’t think he will fail, with more and hopefully better weapons. Pioli also has an out in that most all of his guaranteed money of 29MM will be paid this year The remaining 33MM is not guarnateed.

    I don’t know about Bowe. He has shown flashes but the drops out weigh those flashes. He defitinely has to step up this year or I think he will be released.


  • April 27, 2010  - SG says:

    “I don’t know about Bowe.”

    Question – is this year – “contract year?”


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    SG,

    Nope. Here’s what I found:

    8/5/2007: Signed a five-year, $9 million contract. 2009: $460,000, 2010: $600,000, 2011: $690,000, 2012: Free Agent


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Hit “submit” too soon.

    Was going to say…at least Bowe isn’t making tons of money. Looks like he’s actually making about what he’s worth, I would say. By NFL salary standards, of course.


  • April 27, 2010  - Justin Foote says:

    On having Dwayne Bowe’s eyes checked: Yes, all Chiefs had their eyes checked at the beginning of last season when Haley became the coach.


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Well, even with 20/20 vision…it’s still hard to see when your head is up your ass. And that’s where our WR’s seemed to have it half the time last year. Bowe included.


  • April 27, 2010  - el cid says:

    Last year was last year. deep huh?

    We do not have Haley inposing a new offense just before the season starts. Weis might be a better coordinator than Haley (with all Haley’s other duties). How many WR off the scrap heap did Pioli try? Although I think Chambers is a solid #2 at his age and Bowe is a #2 or even #3 based on past preformances. We do not have that Rice, Irwin, TO, maybe Moss. Definitely no speedy Wr. This will be ayear worth Weising, I mean watching.


  • April 27, 2010  - Matt says:

    Jason LaConfora reports via twitter:

    JasonLaCanfora

    DT John Henderson does not have a visit set for Wed. with the Chiefs, contrary to reports


  • April 27, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Henderson himself is the one who said he was coming to visit the Chiefs on Wednesday. It wasn’t like a rumor or anything.


  • April 27, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    Every dropped pass is a lost down — Maybe he dosen’t care but in the game of today it’s like life or death . Is he afraid of getting hit if he catches the ball . Must have been , something to get him there !


  • April 27, 2010  - Michael says:

    So, is Henderson coming or not? I heard the radio interview, and he said he was coming. If he’s not, he should. Listen to the interview, if you haven’t already. The Chiefs need a dude like that!


  • April 27, 2010  - tx_CHIEFan says:

    I really do not understand everyones bashing of Bowe??? He played in only 11 games last year and one of the 11 was the FINAL GAME against Denver where he was targeted ONE TIME and gained seven yards to the 1/2 yard line to set up our first opening drive touchdown OF THE YEAR.
    In the eleven games he scored 4 times and although I could not find the total amount of times he was targeted, I do know he wasn’t the one with the most drops…!!!


  • April 27, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    TX—

    The reason he did not play was too riskey , is that hard to figure , and if he was the top reciever he would getting a lot more ……..


  • April 28, 2010  - el cid says:

    In case of Bowe, was supposedly the second coming at WR. Could not miss superstar. Haley knows offenses and Wrs yet got little bounce for his buck riding Bowe. If Bowe is just another guy, then there is another blown draft pick. If he is really “good”, then this year is the bust out year. Bashing him, do not think so. More like tired of waiting for the superstar to show up every play of every game (ie Tony G at TE)


  • April 30, 2010  - Warpaing says:

    Bowe was drafted by Vermiel, if I recall. And he did perform his rookie year. However, since then, his performances have gone downhill, including 2009, and his being suspended for 4 games didn’t help. Todd sees something in this guy. Even though he did violate the rules, he hasn’t shown any of the “bad-boy” traits like some of the trash we dumped last year. I think if he doesn’t step up soon, he’s gone. With the coaching additions, he will have nothing to blame his shortcomings on.

    As answer to tx_CHIEFan, Bowe was drafted to be our #1 receiver, period. To be that guy, the player has to play at a high level, which means he cannot drop a catchable ball more than once in a game. He also has to be able to get himself in position to be thrown to (even with double-teams). which hasn’t been the case. More often than not, he’s allowed at least 1 or more defenders to be too close to him. This makes it very hard for the QB to choose to throw to him. Usually, Matt did, to give Bowe a chance to use his height and size to make the catch, thus accounting for the minimal throws Matt targeted him for.




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