Pollard As Close As Chiefs Get To Super Bowl

Let’s go back to the summer of 2009 when Scott Pioli was in charge of the Chiefs roster in his first season as the team’s general manager.

Arriving from New England with a briefcase full of Executive of the Year awards and a belief that he had all the answers, Pioli began molding the Chiefs in the image that he called the “right 53.”

One of Pioli decisions in the last days of the pre-season came on September 5, 2009 when he released starting strong safety Bernard Pollard. It was a surprising move at the time because there was not an obvious replacement on the roster for Pollard and no one had outplayed him in four pre-season games.

Pollard supposedly did not fit what the Chiefs were looking for at the position, although questions were never answered about just what type of safety was sought. He had several verbal battles with then defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast on the practice field, including during the team’s OTA sessions that required head coach Todd Haley to intervene.

Those arguments on the practice field and how the off-season had gone with Pollard sent obvious signals that he was not going to be a good fit with the new regime. That’s why the Chiefs signed 10-year veteran Mike Brown on June 25th, a month before training camp began.

It was to Brown that the starting job fell. The veteran had been with Chicago and he was not re-signed by the Bears after the 2008 season. He was a 31-year old, 10-season veteran that was a heady player, but his speed and quickness of his younger days were gone. The defense struggled through that 2009 season and Brown’s lack of speed proved a detriment on a number of occasions. It’s not hard to believe that Pollard would have contributed more to the Chiefs that season and possibly several seasons after that.

The biggest blunder Pioli made was holding onto Pollard and then releasing him and getting nothing in exchange for a guy that was still young (24 years old at the time) and with plenty of experience (48 games and 31 starts in three seasons). As a former second-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft (54th player taken), Pollard was worth something on the open market and Pioli had time to make that deal.

But Pioli got nothing, making one of the worst mistakes possible by a man in charge of personnel – he allowed talent to get away with no return.

Pollard landed in Houston a few weeks later and after spending two seasons with the Texans, he joined the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent. Pendergast, the coach Pollard could not get along with, was fired at the completion of the ’09 season. Brown retired, never to play in the league again.

And the strong safety spot was one of the biggest holes in the roster coming out of that season. Pioli was forced to comeback in the 2010 NFL Draft and use the fifth selection in the first round on a strong safety – Eric Berry.

Yes, Berry has become one of Pioli’s better draft choices and a two-time Pro Bowler. But had Pollard not been released, that 2010 first-round selection could have helped fill another position of need. Had Pioli traded Pollard, then the Chiefs would have had another pick to use or barter with in the Draft.

Don’t hold those two Pro Bowl trips for Berry as evidence he’s a significantly better player than Pollard, who has not yet made the all-star game. In the last two seasons, Pollard has started five games in the playoffs with a sixth coming up this Sunday; he has 32 tackles in those five games. Berry has one post-season start.

It’s a bit of an unfair comparison but head-to-head numbers show Pollard’s play is on par with Berry. Here are the numbers for Berry and Pollard in the 2010 and 2012 seasons. We’ll skip the 2011 season since Berry did not play because of his knee injury:










Eric Berry









Eric Berry

















Bernard Pollard









Bernard Pollard

















There were many personnel blunders during Pioli’s tenure as Chiefs general manager. Dumping Pollard for nothing qualifies as one of his bigger mistakes, the type that ended his tenure after four seasons and a 23-42 record.

Pollard is set to start in Super Bowl XLVII at strong safety for the Ravens. Pioli is in New Orleans as a member of the media, not the general manager of an NFL team. His expertise is supposedly speaking about personnel.

And the Chiefs are again on the outside looking in at another championship game.

12 Responses to “Pollard As Close As Chiefs Get To Super Bowl”

  • January 30, 2013  - milkman says:

    I wonder just how many years it will take to erase the 4 years of Pioli’s arrogance? Let’s hope that the men running this organization now have bigger smarts than egos.

  • January 30, 2013  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I’m not sure what the issues were with Pollard and Pendergast but getting nothing for Pollard was obviously a mistake that Pioli should have foreseen. Beyond that I’d still take Berry every time over Pollard even if he’s still working to get back to where he was before his knee injury.

    How we obtained him is certainly instructive as to why Pioli is where Herm and others are on the periphery commenting on what the pros in the business are doing.

  • January 30, 2013  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    Don’t forget the Pollard hit on Brady’s knee that ended his season. Revenge is a dish best served cold. That also brought about the ascension of one Matt Cassel in NE.

  • January 30, 2013  - txchief says:

    I’m making no excuses for Pioli, but Pollard is a major liability in pass coverage. I always remember him getting burned for big plays. It was idiotic for Pioli to dump him rather than trading him for another player. No one will ever be able to calculate the cost of the many opportunities lost due to Pioli’s mismanagement of the Chiefs.

  • January 30, 2013  - ChuckXX says:

    Bob; Talking about just “some” of the incredible Pioli blunders- how about letting Carr slip away??? How about the Routt fiasco??? Orton??? Baldwin, Jackson???? I always have read that you always need to find a guy in the “first round” that will be a “impact game changer” type player. Pioli has really missed on that mark pretty much every pick. Berry is very good but not a game changer. It seems to me that Pioli is not nearly as smart as he convinced Clark that he was. I will be absolutely “shocked” if he gets another gig as GM with his arrogance and paranoia. Not to mention his horrible draft picking. Like you said, he really set this franchise back by light years. Truly a shame what one man can do with his power.

  • January 30, 2013  - R W says:

    The Pioli years will haunt the Chiefs for a time as this story tells in the release of Pollard. Thank the Gods of common sense that Pioli is now on the ham & egg circuit trying to rebuild his failed image.

    I’m looking forward to the 2013 draft for the first time in a long time because Pioli won’t be anywhere near the Chief’s war room. The next several weeks will be key as to how that draft will shake out in terms of what vets are re-signed or allowed to leave.

  • January 30, 2013  - Niblick says:

    Chuck-I know it’s not much consolation, but we do get a late 3rd round compensatory pick for Carr. That’s not due to Pioli but league rules do require compensatory picks for some free agents.

  • January 30, 2013  - el cid says:

    Got to say, we had to listen about how bad Carl/herm left the Chiefs for several years. I hope we can get past Pioli quicker than that.

    As for Pollard, guys come and go. It hurt because we got nothing for him. I am a huge Reid fan but getting nothing for Albert then having to spend a 1st for a replacement – may be necessary but hurts.

    By the by, not a QB from Ark is being touted as the first pick. (just to fire up the Geno guys, LOL)

  • January 30, 2013  - COCHIEF says:

    Its interesting that after his years of arrogance and silent disdain for the media, Pioli is now on the media circuit.

    How do people who have a proven record of failure all of a sudden become experts with valuable inside knowledge? How can someone say that inside information should be confidential then tell all when it is to their personal advantage? Arrogance and self-serving interest seems to transcend principle to these people.

    A sad commentary on all involved in this charade.

  • January 30, 2013  - chiefsstl says:

    But remember Pioli doesn’t like to talk about family business. Hypocrite.

  • January 30, 2013  - chewbone says:

    Pollard has trouble controlling his emotions and likely said things that challenged the system and maybe even Pioli, chances are he was in the same dog house as steve breaston. Being the “right 53″ obviously meant you “had to agree” and that draft template is a reason I felt the Chiefs never had many real fiery team leaders.

    Interesting tidbit on pollard they mentioned on sports radio yesterday (x-KC broadcaster now in Houston – name?) Pollard always conducted all his locker room post game interviews completely nude so lets hope the TV crew is careful with interviews after the superbowl!

  • January 30, 2013  - Old School says:

    The big difference I see, with the possibility of not re-signing Albert to Left Tackle, is that we really don’t know how good or bad his back injury is. With 5 years already in the league he is at that tipping of point of “experienced” and “physically used up”. Assuming a healthy O-lineman can have a productive 10 year career, he is already half way through his expected production. If his back starts to affect him, he could be effectively done in another couple of years (or less).

    The frustrating thing is that we probably won’t be able to hear anything about it, unless the Chiefs come out and say that he Albert did not pass a team physical. I could be all wrong, but the Albert’s “back” will probably be a huge driver in the this years draft.

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