Getting Away, Going Home … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Over the weekend I learned former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley would be visiting with the Pittsburgh Steelers about their offensive coordinator’s job that came open last week with the firing of Bruce Arians.

That visit went down Tuesday in Pittsburgh and the results remain unknown. By the time you read this, a decision yeah or nay could already have been made. Late Tuesday evening, things appeared all quiet on the eastern front.

I can tell you this, never have I rooted for a coach to get a job as hard as I’m rooting for Haley to land with the black and gold. I’m always the first one to say be careful what you wish for because you might get it. I know that Haley would like to spend his 2012 season back home with the Steelers, the team that was so much a part of his youth. There’s almost a magical feel to the mere possibility.

More than anything, it would be the perfect antidote for Haley to recover from what he lived with over his final two seasons as head coach of the Chiefs.

We’ve all heard so much from Clark Hunt about how he wants his organization to be like the Steelers, and then he turns around and does things that are completely opposite of what would happen with the Rooney family. Maybe if this job works out, Haley will actually get a taste of the Steelers Way.

It’s become more and more apparent that even though he was named coach of the year by some outlets in 2010, won a division title and got the Chiefs into the playoffs with a lineup far from championship caliber, the organization wanted to dump him after that season. Unfortunately, neither Hunt nor GM Scott Pioli had the guts to pull the trigger and make the move, so worried were they about the public reaction to firing a coach that made the playoffs.

Instead, they kept him on board and went about making his life as head coach as miserable as possible. Second guessing of decisions to his face, to others in the organization, to friendly media types began almost immediately. Hunt would have preferred the Chiefs have kept Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator and gotten rid of Haley, but that’s not how things worked out.

There was constant harping at Haley about little things. The head coach went to a Lil’Wayne concert on a Monday night in August with some of his players and word spread out of the Chiefs offices around the league that Haley was a slacker, unwilling to work hard. There were snide comments in the national media, passed down the pipeline from the Chiefs front office about his mental stability and his supposedly uncontrollable temper. There were willing partners in the local media who were fed this pabulum as well, and they repeated it almost with glee.

There was the talk of how he dressed; his raggedy hat, his shaving habits, his sweatshirts and the like. Those last items really infuriated the home office in Dallas. The talk out of Hunt Central was that Haley did not represent what an NFL head coach should look like. Wonder if Bill Belichick has ever had Patriots owner Robert Kraft walk into his office and question him about his choice of hoodie with cutoff sleeves for his sideline apparel?

One of the things that gnawed at Haley almost immediately upon his arrival in the building was how little things became big things, the old making a mountain out of a mole hill. Plus, there was the inability of the organization to move quickly and pull the trigger on various situations. There were constant conversations, back and forth between the offices and Dallas, more meetings and still sometimes a decision couldn’t get made.

For the last two seasons he was the head coach, Haley was one man in the boat with a single oar. There was nobody rowing in the same direction. I don’t buy a lot of conspiracy theories on any subject, but more and more it seems like the team’s unwillingness to spend money on new players going into last year when there were so many possibilities may have had motives other than saving a buck.

As has happened frequently with the powers in charge with the Chiefs, anything that happens even after a person leaves the building is blamed on the absent. The Kansas City Star story on the toxic environment around the team has been blamed on Haley around the bigwigs at team headquarters. Now, there’s talk that the team is not going to pay him the last year of his contract, because they fired him “with cause.” Cause was never a word that Hunt or Pioli used when they announced Haley’s firing on December 12.

Eventually, the Chiefs will pay Haley the money they owe him, even if he has to go to league arbitration and the court house to get the check. It will just be a continuation of the hapless behavior of a franchise that has become an NFL laughingstock. At the Senior Bowl last week there were 800 NFL team employees in Mobile. I didn’t talk to 800 or 400 or even 200. But over five days, I bet I spoke to 100 head coaches, assistant coaches, GMs, front office employees and scouts. Almost to a man, they wanted to know about the Star story. It seems that everyone in the league has read the toxic tale and not a single one of them made a comment to indicate they thought Haley was out of his mind for thinking his office was bugged and his phone tapped. Most of them were not surprised.

If Haley can jump to the stability that is the hallmark of the Rooney family and their operation of the Steelers, it will help wash away the last two years in the toxic soup of the Chiefs organization. In Pittsburgh right now, things are not perfect. Their early departure from the playoffs was not what’s expected each year. The team’s offense has been spotty and has drifted too far to the passing side, with not enough running game. Arians was fired and that has made quarterback Ben Roethlisberger unhappy. It seems like Roethlisberger is continually hurt, because he holds onto the ball so long and takes so many hits. They badly need to rebuild their offensive line, which has had massive injury problems over the last few seasons.

But, compared to what Todd Haley’s had to live with the past two years, it would be a day at the coaching beach, where he could coach and not have to constantly look over his shoulder.

35 Responses to “Getting Away, Going Home … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 1, 2012  - Milkman says:

    Another good article, Bob. However, I sure do hope you are exaggerating about some of it. If the Chiefs are indeed having trouble recruiting good assistant coaches due to things that have been going on behind the scenes at Arrowhead, nothing good can come of it. And it would be nice to say we could just dump Pioli and wash our troubles away, but according to this article the Chiefs current personality starts right at the top with Clark Hunt. We can not dump Mr. Hunt, if indeed this article is 100% true. That is very discouraging, to say the least. I guess time will ultimately tell if the Chiefs have been blackballed by the assistant coaches fraternity. If that’s the case, how hard will it be to get blue chip free agents to consider signing with the Chiefs? One thing I would like to see is less articles about Todd Haley by the Kansas City media. You can’t convince me that he was entirely innocent in the deteriation of his relationship with the Chiefs. He’s gone now. It is time to move on.

  • February 1, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I agree with you Milkman, we do have to move on but the activities of the last season have impact. I know we’re Chiefs fans and I hate hearing bad news about our organization also but if you’ve ever worked in a toxic environment you have to recognize how difficult it is to put together a successful product under such conditions. Many followers bitch about Bob’s negative reporting on the owner and GM but the same people would bitch about the fact he was a homer and had nothing to say about them and would question his ability to cultivate inside information if he said nothing and it became public knowledge. We don’t know how much of the fault was Haley’s and how much was Pioli’s and Hunt’s. All we know is that Haley won the division the year before we lost three of our best young impact players for the year and did nothing to address obvious deficiencies going into the next year. He was then fired during the season and the carousel that has been evident since Junior took over continued. Haley certainly had culpability and I really hope the Haley haters are right and it was all on him and Hunt the pen collector weren’t responsible for any part of it. I openly admit I am a homer but there’s a huge nagging doubt in my homer heart that the carousel hasn’t stopped. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

  • February 1, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I meant to say Hunt and the pen collector, wrapper collector or whatever Pioli’s focusing on to show other’s his attention to detail these days. By the way, I’d love to know what Parcells really thinks of him.

  • February 1, 2012  - James says:

    Eventually the Chief’s will announce who the new OC is. This will speak volumes as to what is going on in the organization. Likewise with free agency. I see dark days ahead for the team I’ve followed for forty years. I fear there is a cancer at 1 Arrowhead Drive. Maybe it’s time for Clark Hunt to quit being an absentee owner and move to KC.

  • February 1, 2012  - Chuck says:

    Bob; WOW. Every Chiefs fan in America should read your article atleast “TWICE” just to let it all soak in. As I have said many times before I have been a Huge Chiefs Fan ever since Super Bowl #1. I even had season tickets for two years in Section 245 (Arrowhead Club) but when my 4 seats went to $10,800 per season I gave them up. When you step back and analyize the situation I see TWO distinct problems. ONE is a GM who is a CONTROL FREAK. TWO an owner who really just doesn’t get it. He lives in Dallas, is a very passive owner, and doesn’t really want to spend the money it takes to build a winning team. Where you can really see the CHEAPNESS shine thru every single year is in free agency and the quick willingness to trade down in the draft to save a few bucks. Same goes for the OC job, just watch them promote from within to save a few bucks. This OC fiasco has gone on way toooooo long now. Its a very sad day for true Chiefs Fans.

  • February 1, 2012  - Jason Czech says:

    So Bob, is this pretty much all speculation on your part? Frankly it’s hard to know which side to believe, since all communication is done through back channels & anonymous sources. Maybe Haley did get a raw deal…then again, maybe he did have an uncontrollable temper & was hard to work with. I do agree though, that if they intended to let him go they should have done so after the playoff loss. Then again, if Pioli really had it in for Todd, why go out & spend $25 million on Steve Breaston for him? Why spend $3m on Gregg? Why sign Jared Gaither (who appearantly wasn’t good enough to replace the worst RT in the NFL, yet was good enough to not allow a single QB pressure in SD) And why pick up $2.5m of Kyle Orton’s contract to try and salvage a shot at a playoff birth?

    Also, regarding the contract money. Haley went to the press and basically accused Pioli &/or Hunt of a felony crime, yet apparently had no proof of this. Do you think this ‘might’ be a violation of his severance agreement?

  • February 1, 2012  - leonard says:

    Any one that can blame Haley is a fool. If you look at how things progressed this year, it becomes clear that Pioli, and Hunt are the problem. I can only hope that when the dust settles, things will indeed get better. We will see.

  • February 1, 2012  - el cid says:

    I am going with Milkman. Time to move on because nothing can be done with Hunt or Pioli, they are here for the future.

    Offensive coaches are still a topic as we have no answer from the lack of production of last year. It will be troubling if management has to settle on a OC with no experience or have to stay inhouse after wandering around looking under every rock and finding no one at home.

    Free agency starts soon and we have not got our own under control, Bowe and Carr. Does management plan to use the franchise tag on one and let the other walk? What about a veteran free agent for RT or a more senior veteran for depth at the league minimum? I do not want in a bidding war for a name but what the Chiefs ran out there last year at QB and S just does not cut it.

    Then we have the draft. I would say best athlete at almost any position. If they attack with need over skill, we lose.

  • February 1, 2012  - jim says:

    As dysfunctional as things SEEM to be, it makes me wish I were NOT a Chiefs fan. But, I don’t know how to NOT be one, so I guess I ride the wave of uncertainty with the rest of you loosers. lol I honestly don’t understand how any future coash of stature could possible consider moving into this Kluasterfooken ( German for , ..).

    If I came into this mess, the last thing I would do is buy a house. Heck, you may not even get the title work done before you’re moving on.

  • February 1, 2012  - txchief says:

    Sheesh! Here we go again…. I’m just hoping to see who the team is able to sign for coaching vacancies and to improve the team.

  • February 1, 2012  - el cid says:

    Sort of funny, tx. I say “settle for”, you say “able to sign”. Similar, not a lot of confidence by either of us about the future choice at OC and his (hers?) assist. coaches.

    But you have to admit it is not rehashing how we love or hated the past moves. It is moving on.

  • February 1, 2012  - Justin says:

    I, for one, am rooting for Haley on this one. Pioli and Clark are small people running something that is way too big for them.

    Fired for cause, huh? The Jason Cole’s article

    seems to say it best:

    “The look from Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli told you everything you needed to know…You could almost feel the contempt drip down and splatter Haley and the scribes.”

  • February 1, 2012  - Blake says:

    What did the Chiefs do that made his life horrible the last two years? The KC Star has no proof just one persons word vs another. Second guessing of the head coach, that is what made it so terrible? Bob you say that these last two years have been horrible, why have they been so horrible?

    I like Todd Haley, I hope he gets the OC job in Pittsburgh that was his hometown team and his true love. I think Todd Haley can be a good coach in this league with some time. But one thing that I don’t understand is why he hasn’t been hired somewhere already? Arizona didn’t want him, the Jets didn’t want him, and Pittsburgh we will see. Those 3 places are the only places that I heard he might go too.

  • February 1, 2012  - David says:

    We should know more within the next week or two, when the club names an OC. If you’re the boss and someone you’ve worked with in the past has top credentials for an important vacancy in your organization, it’s good business practice to consider that person as one of the candidates for the job. But if Google or General Electric or (for that matter) the Green Bay Packers or the New York Yankees had a critically important high-level vacancy to fill – would they even dream of considering ONLY candidates who the boss had worked with before? Of course not. That would rule out 98% of the qualified talent pool, and would be just plain stupid, not to mention more than a little bit paranoid. Stay tuned…

  • February 1, 2012  - RW says:

    Many props to Bob for hitting it high and let it fly on both a penetrating and thought provoking story to say the least. I could say alot more on this topic but have worn it out over the past several months so I’ll give the Jr. Hunt/Pioli bit a rest.

    Besides, what else can one add to the candor and courage Bob displayed in surfacing this piece? Well done, Bob. Well done, indeed.

  • February 1, 2012  - Blake says:

    Well Bob it looks like you were wrong again, Bill Muir is retiring.

  • February 1, 2012  - txchief says:

    And after Muir announced his retirement, I understand he was shackled by Chiefs security and removed to an undisclosed detention facility. He will remain there until all of the Chiefs ballpoint pens and paperclips that went missing from his office are returned.

  • February 1, 2012  - Niblick says:

    Pro Football Talk speculated that the interview may simply be a courtesy interview based on the fact that Haley’s dad worked for the organization for a long time. I hope he gets the job, but it is interesting that he has been already supposely been turned down by three teams. I wish Muir the best of luck in his retirement. He can enjoy the good life. He seemed like a generally nice guy.

  • February 1, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Holy crap, this story is depressing. When Lamar was alive I didn’t even know there was a “front office”. Now that’s all I hear. Making Carl look good. Nope, taking that back. For now.

  • February 1, 2012  - txchief says:

    I don’t think Haley is a martyr. I wasn’t impressed with his coaching skills and ability to develop players or successful game plans. His greatest success came with Charlie Weis calling the plays. He then drove Weis away due to his need to micromanage.

    Haley has likely blackballed himself from any NFL jobs due to his paranoid accusations toward the Chiefs franchise, and his willingness to share his strange ideas with the media. No other organization would want to take the risk that he would do the same to them. And if he were really such a hot commodity, he would have been picked up by another club almost immediately. Perhaps the Chiefs were viewed more as “laughingstocks” for hiring him in the first place, not for letting him go.

    As well, if he were denegrating my company in the media while still a highly paid employee, I’d fire him “for cause” too.

    Now let’s see what Pioli and Crennel can do. I’m tired of the daily floggings of the GM and owner. Time to move on.

  • February 1, 2012  - Niblick says:

    If Haley’s contract specified that he could not criticize the organization while under their employment, they may have cause not to pay him and could fire him for cause. I don’t know what the ’cause’ for firing him might have been. Assuming it was for the so called bugging allegations, he may have a problem. He was quoted in the paper by Babb that he said his phone could be bugged. Babb did not say from unidentified sources.

  • February 1, 2012  - Niblick says:

    In the PFT article that some media sources speculated that this was perhaps a courtesy interview, they were also speculating that this interview could perhaps help Haley in obtaining future interviews. I wish we could also move on from this.

  • February 1, 2012  - txchief says:

    I’d be extremely surprised if NFL coaching contracts did not contain non-disparagement clauses. Unless Haley somehow proves his personal phone was tapped and his office was bugged, he’s probably SOL on his pay after termination. It really does reek of tin foil in the hat paranoia.

  • February 1, 2012  - el cid says:

    Now that Muir is out of the running and Zorn has put out OC or he may leave.

    Who is left?

    Look at the Superbowl staffs, who is OC ready material? Anyone with better credentials than Muir sitting around in Indy?

  • February 1, 2012  - Niblick says:

    el cid- That’s a great question. Someone on this site speculated on a name from the Giants staff. Also the OC from Miami has been mentioned. I can’t recall either name. Maybe there’s a surprise name that has not been mentioned. It’s just a gut feel on my part that it won’t be Zorn. If he is the guy, I think he would have already been named.

  • February 1, 2012  - Tenand6 says:

    You are a good man, Mr. Gretz.

  • February 2, 2012  - Gary H says:

    Bob, a lot of Chiefs fans don’t believe a word of what the articles state because you do not mention a source, besides Haley and he doesn’t even have an actual quote within the articles.

    Perhaps you should answer the questions the readers are asking:

    1. Who else are making these accusations?

    2. What former employees did you actually talk to?

    3. What are the coaches at the Senior Bowl really saying? Quotes, please.

    4. Can you please be more specific on what exactly is going on at Arrowhead? What did the Chiefs really do besides lock down? What reprimands were there? Was it financial or breaks taken away or office moves? What exactly was it?

    5. Did Haley actually say anything else about the cellphone being tapped? Did he agree to it when he signed his first contract? Did his contract say all phones used for business purposes will be tapped?

    There are so very many questions left from these articles. Please answer them.

  • February 2, 2012  - Tenand6 says:

    Gary H. Kent Babb isn’t going to publish his dozens of sources nor should anyone else. We have to decide if these men who have spent their careers in journalism and/or football are actively lying. Kent Babb’s editor is satisfied with Babb’s reporting or he wouldn’t have published the story. We are beyond denying a hostile work environment exists at Arrowhead. Are the age discrimination cases made up out of whole cloth, too? SI’s Jim Trotter has said that many people who work at Arrowhead have said much the same thing to him as to what Babb reported— people were afraid their conversations weren’t secure and they would have to talk to him outside the building.

    The people who have questions to answer are Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli. We have all the evidence we need to know Arrowhead is a dysfunctional place to work. As fans, we can decide for ourselves if we care.

  • February 2, 2012  - Mark VanCamp says:

    For me, it was a sad day when Coach Haley was fired. I have always liked the way he approached the game and the passion he has for the game. As to Clark Hunt, unfortunately he has proven that he will never be the man his father was. Lamar helped build a league while his hires built a team. Clark has only shown that he can build statues and remodel stadiums. What a shame …

  • February 2, 2012  - Bryan Shelby says:

    For you guys on the, “Let’s just move on” train..a couple of thoughts.


    You mean that sports/winning is so important to you and you stand for so little depth as a human being, that an intentional hostile work enviroment within a taxpayer subsidised company and building….is something we as both fans and citizens, and KC journalists just need to “move on from”? I for one hope the media doesn’t move on but instead raises the temperature in both Dallas and One Arrowhead Drive.

    I don’t want to win games or even a Super Bowl at the feet of vicious oppression. Please forgive me for caring about something a little more three dimensional.

    And don’t forget, reporters from SI were getting similar information from people inside the Chiefs operation before local media broke out their stories.

  • February 3, 2012  - Bill Leifer says:

    It seems to me, as someone who has followed the Chiefs closely for 45 years (yes, I’m 64), that intrigue and innuendo has plagued the franchise since Stram left and that this intrigue and innuendo and controversy has two sources mainly. First is the excessive scrutiny of the press and fans, possibly because KC has too few nationally visible things going on. Controversy, which is part of every team, is ginned up by the hovering and almost hysterically involved fan base, and the fans put enormous pressure on ownership, because the fans are the source of revenue. The second is the dysfunctional dynamic that hovering fan syndrome has resulted in with the press. The press feeds off of the fans and vice versa, in which every decision, every draft choice, and every coaching decision and change of coaches is treated as either the second coming or as armageddon. Bob Gretz, I love your writing, but you have become the epitome of this dysfunction, which has ceased the cover the franchise and has become one of the forces that is altering and interfering in it. I think everyone needs to calm down, especially those who write articles and opinion pieces like this and those who read them. As for me, I am going to do my part to help the franchise be successful by not renewing my subscription to this column. Sorry. Its nothing personal. But I’ve had it.

  • February 3, 2012  - txchief says:

    Mr. Leifer, your comments are truly words of wisdom. You have precisely described the problem with the KC media and hypercritical fans. Thank you! I’ve only been following the team for about 40 years, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll probably renew my subscription to this site, just for the comedic value of pointing out misguided assertions made by he author and some others. However, I should probably be looking for a better hobby!

  • February 3, 2012  - Bill Leifer says:

    Hey, everyone! Listen to txchief. He is obviously a man of wisdom.

    “I have seen the enemy, and he is us”.

    – Pogo

  • February 3, 2012  - Gary H says:

    Tenand6, I’m simply stating what people think. I think there is a high possibility that it is true. I also think the tapping of phones is true. However, there needs to be more information out about it. It really seems like we only have half the story and no one is willing to say the other half.

  • February 3, 2012  - Bill Leifer says:

    Imagine! A corporation concerned about secrecy and loyalty?? Who ever heard of such a thing? Who’d have thunk it? Its outrageous, It’s outrageous, I tell ya. Can’t have a company like that operate a team in OUR city. Nosiree.

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