Painful Start to Chargers Week … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s normally four inches long and there’s great debate as to its evolutionary purpose.

Some researchers think it’s a remnant of a time when we used to eat leaves and bark. Other researchers say it serves our body as a mechanics to replenish good bacteria in our digestive track.

Whatever it does, the inflamed presence of the appendix was enough to sideline Chiefs QB Matt Cassel on Wednesday.

His appendectomy was successful according to the team. But it’s unthinkable that Cassel will be available for kickoff at 3 o’clock CST on Sunday in San Diego. The Chiefs have not ruled him out of the game, but they should. No matter what procedure was used to remove his appendix, there’s little doubt that Cassel should not be on the field at Qualcomm Stadium.

When that news will be made public or even if it is announced at all … heaven knows. As they showed again on Wednesday, the ridiculous atmosphere of secrecy that has become part of the football operation makes the Chiefs organization look clumsy and appear deceitful in communicating with the media and their fans. That was again the case on Wednesday, just as it’s been before with health situations involving offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and even head coach Todd Haley.  

When Cassel was not on the field for Wednesday’s practice, it was obvious something major was on the radar screen. Not only was Cassel not practicing, but he wasn’t even on the field as the Chiefs worked indoors. He was not in the rehab area where those players not practicing are almost always working out in some manner, usually riding a stationary bike.

His complete absence was a flashing red light, because Cassel does not miss work. His attendance at off-season workouts, days off during the season, the bye week … his shadow always crossed the doorway of the team’s facility. That’s the type of person he is and its part of his personality, how he’s been able to achieve an NFL career when he didn’t have a college football career.

Before practice started, the Chiefs announced the addition of QB Tyler Palko to the active roster from the practice squad. All season the Chiefs have gone with only Cassel and Brodie Croyle on the active roster, with Palko on the practice squad. Now suddenly that changed.

Haley said it was “a coincidence” that Palko was promoted on the day that Cassel didn’t show up. It was a coincidence that he moved up on the day that Cassel had his appendectomy and may be out for several weeks. It will go down as one of the top five so-called coincidences of the 2010 NFL season.

When the head coach spoke with the media after practice he was willing to say only that Cassel did not practice because of “an illness.” He would not provide any more information than that including any sort of timetable as to when Cassel may be able to practice or play with his illness.

It was two hours later that the Chiefs released a very short statement that acknowledged that Cassel had undergone an appendectomy and that they expected him “back to work this week.”

And thus began hours of speculation on what will be the quarterback situation in San Diego on Sunday in the most important game the Chiefs have played in several years. Speculation will continue right up until kickoff unless Scott Pioli and Haley do the right thing and simply announce on Thursday that Cassel will not play against San Diego and Croyle will start.

Croyle’s story is well known to Chiefs fans. His career has been stymied many times by injuries over the years. He’s started nine games and the Chiefs are 0-9 in those games. He’s a talented player who has not started a game in 15 months and hasn’t taken a snap since the pre-season.

How Croyle and the current Chiefs offense under the direction of Charlie Weis fit together is unknown. There isn’t enough history in the Croyle file to predict how he’ll handle the offense. The first thing he must do is follow in the footsteps of Cassel and make sure he protects the ball. Croyle has thrown eight interceptions and lost three fumbles over his 16 games and nine starts. He’s completed 57.7 percent of his attempts for a low 5.4 yards per attempt.

And if Croyle gets hurt – and it’s not like that hasn’t happened before – then what of Palko? Nobody around the Chiefs can answer that question at this time. As with most any NFL team, if they reach a point where the third quarterback has to play, they are in trouble.

Ask 10 doctors for their thoughts on the ability of Cassel to bounce back from his procedure and you’ll get 10 different predictions. Every person and appendix is different. But there’s no known case history of an NFL player having an appendectomy on Wednesday and playing on Sunday. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger had his appendix removed on September 3 and played on September 18. Two to three weeks generally seems to be the time frame from procedure to actually returning to the field.

Chiefs C Casey Wiegmann had his appendix removed on August 27, 2001 and did not return to the playing field until September 23, missing two games. Now that return is skewed a bit because the second week of the regular season was postponed because of the tragedies of 9-11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

The next year, Chiefs WR Marc Boerigter had his appendix removed on July 28, 2002, just at the start of training camp. He did not get on the field for a pre-season game until August 24.

Cassel reportedly had laprascopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure using small incisions where a small camera is inserted to provide a view of the appendix. The benefit of laprascopic surgery is that it does not require a major opening in the body and thus there’s quicker recovery and less pain.

Those conditions would be true for anyone and generally would require a month to fully recuperate. For an NFL quarterback who is going to be hit several times in a single game like he was in a car accident, care must be taken on how soon he returns.

Hopefully the Chiefs stop playing their silly games of secrecy and sit Cassel down and let him heal.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8

  • AFC – named Patriots QB Tom Brady offensive player of the week; Steelers S Troy Polamalu defensive player of the week; Browns P Reggie Hodges special teams player of the week.
  • NFL – named Packers QB Aaron Rodgers offensive player of the week; Cowboys LB Sean Lee defensive player of the week; Falcons returner Eric Weems special teams player of the week.
  • BENGALS – placed CB Brandon Ghee on the injured-reserve list (groin) ending his season; signed LB Vincent Rey off their practice squad.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed CB D.J. Johnson off their practice squad.
  • CHIEFS – placed CB Jackie Bates on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season; signed QB Tyler Palko off their practice squad.
  • COLTS – signed CB David Pender off their practice squad.
  • COWBOYS – placed WR Dez Bryant on the injured-reserve list (broken leg) ending his season; signed OLB Kenwin Cummings off the Jets practice squad; claimed DE Clifton Geathers off waivers from the Seahawks.
  • DOLPHINS – signed G Ray Feinga off their practice squad.
  • LIONS – placed CB Alphonso Smith on the injured-reserve list (shoulder) ending his season; signed CB Prince Miller off the Ravens practice squad.
  • RAMS – placed OLB Na’il Diggs on the injured-reserve list (pectoral) ending his season.
  • SAINTS – placed RB Ladell Betts on the injured-reserve list (neck) ending his season; signed LB Kawika Mitchell.


34 Responses to “Painful Start to Chargers Week … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 9, 2010  - Milkman says:

    Makes you wonder if the Chiefs would have said anything had it not been for Adam Sheffter breaking the story right ahead of them. I’ve got to say I agree with Bob on this one. What’s with all the secrecy about injuries? You can understand if it comes down to keeping your upcoming apponent guessing. But in some cases such as this one you would have to assume your next apponent was plain stupid to buy it. ( The fans too for that matter. ) They also look like a bunch of liars- and for what? I am very happy with the direction my favorite team is headed. I just wish they would try a little harder not to come off as a bunch of snobs.


  • December 9, 2010  - TDKC says:

    Maybe they fully intend to sit Cassel. All of this could just be smoke. You know to gain every known and possible advantage.

    No stone left unturned.


  • December 9, 2010  - Brad says:

    They aren’t doing anything different than the other 31 fanchises by reporting only what you are required to.

    This whining about secrecy is getting a old…


  • December 9, 2010  - Michael O says:

    Brad I agree, they have a business to run and the’ll run it like they see fit. Bob quit whining.


  • December 9, 2010  - Tyler says:

    Anytime a media person whines about secrecy, it makes them look that much more foolish. The media, with all their spinning and creation of stories, and making little into big, has created this secrecy by teams. The media is responsible for this secrecy…not the other way around.

    I am sure it makes your job that much more difficult to get scoops, etc. However, you’ve made your own bed.


  • December 9, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    As long as they win, they can be as secret as they want! You take the good w/ the bad.
    I’m looking forward to croyle playing, I think this is another step into us becoming a good team like Haley says. Look, Croyle can make every throw, he is mobile, he is smart and prepared. Plus this is the best TEAM he has every played for. He should have better protection, a kick a$$ run game and a much improved defense. This team needs to go down there and continue doing what they are doing…. croyle needs to do his best impersonation of cassel that he can, just be smart and don’t turn the ball over and if we get behind and have to come back, I like our chances w/ his arm to do it. The guy can play.


  • December 9, 2010  - Petey says:

    They had a doctor on NFL Network last night that performs these surgeries. He said that Cassel couldn’t do any damage by playing and that it was really about the pain management and if Matt were his patient, he would leave it up to him. Personally, I don’t think he plays, nor do I think it’s smart if he plays, but I was surprised to hear that assessment.


  • December 9, 2010  - Michael says:

    If you’re wondering why the Chiefs, or any team, would want to keep things like this quiet, read the comments from the Chargers’ LB who said outright that they’d try to hit Cassel in his stomach.


  • December 9, 2010  - Edward says:

    Croyle could fair well in Cassell’s absence. He took some tough hits against Ravens last year and held up. He actually played well against a very good defense. This time its an improved offense and much better defense. Croyle just needs to trust his o-line,receivers,defense,and not try to do too much.


  • December 9, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    I’d probably sit Cassel for this game just to avoid any complications. He’s not going to sit at a desk on Sunday but would take some serious hits which could take him out for more than a week.

    Some sideeffect of this development:

    If Brodie (FA after the season) does well he’ll be gone by season’s end searching for an opportunity to start elsewhere. Chan Gailey comes to mind at BUF, but there are some other teams in desperate need of a capable QB.

    If Brodie fails he’ll probably won’t stick around as well as a rather expensive veteran with limited capabilities and obviously limited upside.


  • December 9, 2010  - Fan Since 93 says:

    If Cassel doesn’t play this will be the biggest game of Croyle’s professional career.

    It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure of the Chief’s most important game of the year (thus far), but more importantly his play on this game will determine his NFL stock and the interest in other teams acquiring him once his contract is complete.

    If he has a bad game then his Chiefs and NFL career could be over.

    Anyone disagree?


  • December 9, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Fan Since 93,

    looks like we had the same idea simultanously …


  • December 9, 2010  - Andrew says:

    Bob, I respect your writing and opinions. However, your harping about secrecy does wear on me. I don’t understand why sports reporters feel entitled to information from the franchises. If they were reporting on business or government they would have to dig scoops out of research and sources. Sport franchises are businesses, not the media’s property.


  • December 9, 2010  - el cid says:

    Secrecy and the Chiefs, keep winning and it does not matter. But remember the Chiefs are selective in their secrecy. Blackout in KC but Haley told SD (?) paper about his injury and what they report to the league goes to NFL Channel and ESPN immediately. No the secrecy is only for KC and I doubt it has all that much to do with the NFL teams not knowing anything, more like keeping the local peons in line and keeps them from asking to many questions.

    Liked dan in joplin comment on Croyle. We will see. But we really, REALLY, need a win sunday so the timing stinks. But what are you going to do?


  • December 9, 2010  - Petey says:

    I agree with Cid on this. It’s one thing to try complete secrecy, but this selective secrecy is BS, same as it was with Haley’s injury. He had no problem telling the Arizona media, but couldn’t bother to tell the local people? It seems bush league to me, and I wish one of the reporters *cough, BOB, cough* would come out and ask why they did that (and maybe you have and we just haven’t seen it in print).


  • December 9, 2010  - RW says:

    As the title states in his marvelous 2006 book, author John Feinstein says it best now for the Chiefs: NEXT MAN UP. I think we all knew about the fragile condition of roster depth at various positions so now is the moment to deal with the reality of ‘what is’ and ‘what will be?’.

    As to Bob’s statements on the Chief’s information lockdown, I for one appreciate his comments as a journalist who isn’t marching in lockstep as a team lapdog scribe might do. Good show, Bob. Bloody good show.


  • December 9, 2010  - Kiowa says:

    Who friggin cares what they tell and don’t tell, in the end the game goes on no matter who plays. Croyle will surprise the doubters and Charles is gonna run wild all day and be the star anyway!


  • December 9, 2010  - jim says:

    Crolye will be prepared, and will work his ‘play action’ magic. BOTH of our RB’s will have good days, and McCluster will have an impact. Hopefully, Moieke gets a few touches, which will free up 82 and 15 to strech the jfield. I think Croyle will air some out, just to keep the Bolts from locking 8 in the box. I’m kinda excited, cause the Bolts have prepared all year for Cassell, and their game plan may have to be altered a little now.

    BUT, the biggest LONG TERM positive immpact from the movement of players yesterday was picking up Johnson. Trust me, he will shine on ST, and eventually could be the true thumper in the middle we need. He absolutely runs down hill, and will light you up in the hole. I’m excited for him to get a chance to stick around awhile.


  • December 9, 2010  - jim says:

    Oh yeah, the secrecy issue. If keeping it under wraps for one extra practice day helps the Chiefs gain an advantage over SD in SD’s preparation, so be it. No biggie. Bob, I understand your frustration, because it’s your job to get us the inside info as quickly as possible. You do any awesome job with that. BUT, nobody here holds you responsible for not getting information that simply just isn’t ready to be made public yet. Hang in Bro, and keep making us happy with your stellar work.


  • December 9, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Painful start to Chargers week?

    Painful for Matt Cassel maybe. Brodie Croyle in my opinion has all the tools necessary to win on Sunday. It’s not like Cassel is some sort of “Superstar” QB. Most of us have been on and off his case this season anyway. I am no exception.

    Yes, it is unfortunate that Matt had enexpected surgery. At least Brodie & the 1st team offense have several practice days to get in the groove, timing and all. I’m just glad that Matt’s appendix was removed on Wed, instead of this Saturday.

    We all deal with adversity every day. Challenges are a dime a dozen. The Chiefs are a “Team”. This years unit is the most cohesive I have seen in years. Either the “team” wins or the “team” loses.

    Brodie Croyle is a professional football player. He even started in college football games and was very successful. The Chiefs brass are not being very secretive about that.
    Go Chiefs.


  • December 9, 2010  - Tim says:

    I’m not worried about the secrecy in the least. As long as we’re compliant with the NFL rules, that’s all that matters. The rest is just whining. Get over it. As for Croyle, he just has to manage the game. He’s never been on the field as a pro with protection, a running game & a REAL game plan. He’s a better deep ball thrower than Cassel, I believe. He’ll need to keep his adrenaline under control early, if that’s possible to keep from over throwing and/ or throwing real “fastballs” our guys aren’t used to. Its his opportunity to showcase potentially for other teams for the future & maybe make them take another look…should he hit the market.


  • December 9, 2010  - Petey says:

    So it’s whining, Tim, if I find it ridiculous that they will not share information with the local writers, who write for the local fans but will share the information with the writers from teams city we happen to be playing that week? I guess that makes me a whiner then because it just ain’t right and I don’t want to get over it.


  • December 9, 2010  - Rick says:

    .
    December 9, 2010 – Petey says:

    “I agree with Cid on this. It’s one thing to try complete secrecy, but this selective secrecy is BS, same as it was with Haley’s injury. He had no problem telling the Arizona media, but couldn’t bother to tell the local people? It seems bush league to me, and I wish one of the reporters *cough, BOB, cough* would come out and ask why they did that (and maybe you have and we just haven’t seen it in print).”

    Um, why would you care? Fans knowing this has absolutely nothing to do with winning.

    The media types will always whine and bitch because it’s what they do. They all act as if they’re the next Woodward or Bernstein working feverishly to bring down a presidency.

    At the end of the day it means nothing and I can’t find it anywhere on my tickets that I’m entitled to every bit of minutia about the team.


  • December 9, 2010  - el cid says:

    Sorry Rick, I think I know what you are saying but many fans, like on sites like this, live and breath Chiefs, everything. We pay for insider looks at what goes on (remember the c/c to Bob?). If the Chiefs want secrecy fine, like you said as long as they win. But selective secrecy is hypocritical at a minimum. Once again whining. But if the Chiefs chose this road what else are they doing “selectively”. Once again as long as they win, who cares, of course, not you.

    You have to wonder just what/why are the Chiefs selective about in their “home” town?


  • December 9, 2010  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Bob, if all the media folks were like you then they probably would be more forthcoming. You are a pro and seem to have universal respect.

    I think it’s hilarious that the on air jack-wagons at WHB get so pissed off because they are cut outta the loop. I love it when Haley is smarmy and evasive to the media.

    I say, if they build a consistent winner here, it’ll get worse rather that better, and the talking heads will be beside themselves.

    On of the ass-hats at WHB said yesterday “we are considering not airing Todd’s press conferences next year, because he doesn’t say anything and is just evasive”.

    Right, If they are winning, they will be airing everything they can get.

    I live in Portland Or. but sports radio out here really blows, so I listen to WHB online.

    Also, you go Barry Richardson, and smash some Chargers in the mouth. You are now my favorite Chief (they hate you on WHB)


  • December 9, 2010  - Petey says:

    Rick says:

    “Um, why would you care? Fans knowing this has absolutely nothing to do with winning.

    The media types will always whine and bitch because it’s what they do. They all act as if they’re the next Woodward or Bernstein working feverishly to bring down a presidency.”

    Rick, I wouldn’t have any problem with it if they were not sharing the information period. However, I don’t like that they are willing to share information with other outlets outside of the local writers. I look at the Star and this site multiple times a day looking for information, as do many fans, so yes, I do expect that if Haley is going to talk (which he doesn’t have too), that he’s going to let the people that write for the majority of the teams fans know. The problem I had with Haley and his injury is he refused to tell the locals in the press conference and he was specifically asked about it, and then the next day it’s in an Arizona paper. That’s what I don’t like. Look, I know that I am not owed anything by the team, but in the same breath I expect the team to not be hypocritical.

    At the end of the day it means nothing and I can’t find it anywhere on my tickets that I’m entitled to every bit of minutia about the team.


  • December 9, 2010  - Tim says:

    I realize the point of view about “selective” disemination of information, but in reality the sequence of events that may cause an out of town/other media outlet to report on something first aren’t always known. For example, if we report to the league on the injury or illness, and it goes to the NFL network or other, then picked up before it gets reported locally, people get upset. Many of the reports could be coming from others & not necessarily Haley himself. Its not like he’s the only one aware of the situation that could unknowingly say something that could be overheard or communicated via a friend of a friend. All I’m saying is that every instance is different in who has information & the various sequences of events that could result in what appears to be selective disemination of information.


  • December 9, 2010  - Tim says:

    Also…NEVER underestimate the power that gambling interests have in learning information before others do & those resultant possibilities of information getting out.


  • December 9, 2010  - Nate says:

    Bob it is time to quit bitching about the way the Chiefs handle media. That is the way it is done by the Patriots, so why would you expect it to be any different when Scott Pioli takes over in KC? Get over it. The only thing that matters to me is if we have a winning team and we do. I’ll tune in on Sunday and see watch Brodie Croyle win his 1st NFL game!


  • December 9, 2010  - Flyboy26 says:

    Bob, it appears to me that most people, including me, on this site, are not nearly as concerned about the limited information released to you and the rest of the media. I understand that its your job to gather information about the team, but its the teams job to determine what info should be released to the public. You remind me of the war correspondents and the public who insist on knowing and divulging everything, even if it causes more deaths and injuries to our troops. It seems to me that a team that doesn’t know totally how to prepare for its opponent is at a disadvantage. To me, that’s the way it should be. On that same line, I disagree with the NFL requiring a team to make an injury report.


  • December 9, 2010  - Michael says:

    I think Bob should ask Haley why the Arizona paper got the info when the KC media didn’t. It’s a minor deal to me, but if Bob wants to know…

    If (When) Croyle plays well in the next game or two or however many he’s in, it’s not a lock he will be gone in 2011. The Chiefs could resign him. He might stay as the backup for the right money. Or, depending on the CBA, they could put a franchise tag on him. With a new CBA there might even be more options.


  • December 9, 2010  - el cid says:

    At least it has sparked a lot of readers to post something and it shows the diversity of fans. Not a bad thing.

    Getting back to sunday. Not sure who will be QB, if possible rest Cassel but we need to win. A strong running attack and come out early with scoring. Defense, somebody stop Gates, he is hurt but alway plays well against us. Now would be the sunday for Special Teams to show up again. Basically have been average since game #1, so it is time to contribute a score.


  • December 9, 2010  - TX_ChiefAN says:

    Hopefully the Chiefs stop playing their silly games of secrecy and sit Cassel down and let him heal.”
    SIRIOUSLY BOB!!! Unbelievable…
    I thought I was going to try to say something about all of the “whining” as well…but too many have said it so eloquently! I AM impressed!
    1) By how many paying subscribers have come out of the woodwork to sound off on this topic.
    2) By how many have the same opine as I
    3) If it was your intent Bob, to create this dialogue…than my hat is off to you! However, if this truly is your gripe, than seriously…get over it. Do you expect the league to turn communist? Let them create question and concern as a form of gamesmanship. It wouldn’t be the first time and until the commish turns Hitler…let it go!!!!


  • December 10, 2010  - Milkman says:

    A lot of people have commented on this topic. Just about everyone agrees that the Chiefs have a right to their secrecy about Matt Cassel’s condition. My point is this: When asked about this initially why didn’t they just say “No comment” instead of using just the right language to not be lying? I would have rather they say “It’s none of your damn business” than to look decieptful like they did. And why do they seem to be able to tell other media outlets what’s going on before or instead of the media that covers them everyday? ( Remember Haley’s leg operation? ) We are all just fans of this team. We all look on these websites for info on our favorite teams. We really have no bearing on the actual outcomes of these games ( unless you count some of the home games we go to. ) There was no way San Diego was going to believe Cassel would be starting this week. So, why not just say it? And why does everyone seem to think Bob Gretz is “whining” about this? I would be frustrated too. All he is trying to do is his job- which is to get all the information he can to give to us people who are looking for all the scoop we can on our favorite team. And then to hear it from a national columnist. If it were me, that would be a slap in the face. Someone had to tell Sheffler didn’t they? I’d rather get my info from the guys who live hear and cover them daily.




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