Sunday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

Matt Cassel proved to be a living, breathing, engaging Chiefs quarterback on Saturday as he met with the Kansas City media face-to-face between practices at the team’s mini-camp.


If you like personable, you’ll like Cassel. The young man walked into the room filled with over a dozen media types and went person to person, shaking hands and beginning the preliminary task of putting names with faces.

And he then handled about five minutes of questions, and did it all with a smile on his face.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Cassel said. “I’m excited about being here. I’m excited about the coaching staff and everything going on. We are setting the environment, we are setting the foundation right now, and we are getting better.”

According to Cassel, he hasn’t approached the last month with the Chiefs any different than say last off-season with the Patriots when he was a backup to Tom Brady.

“Like I’ve always done, I’ve gotten in here and get going with football and I’ll work as hard as I can and put myself in the best physical and mental position going into the season,” Cassel said.

He promises that nothing will change his approach.

“I had the great opportunity of learning from a guy like Tom Brady, who is a professional in every sense of the word, a guy that I look up to and still talk to on a weekly basis,” Cassel said. “As a young quarterback, he taught me how to be a professional and a starting quarterback in this NFL. He’s a guy that never took it for granted.

“That’s something I take with me as I move on in my career away from the Patriots and here with the Chiefs.”

When Cassel first talked with the K.C. media he was on a speaker phone, even though he was in the Chiefs building. Apparently management was concerned about making him look like a “savior”. No matter how he’s viewed outside the building, the guys in the locker room are ready to follow him. The quarterback is always a leader of a team, and it’s a very new role for Cassel. Even last year when he replaced Brady, he was walking into a veteran team with plenty of leaders who could handle the duties in absence of the starting quarterback.

“You step into the role as a quarterback, as the known leader,” Cassel said. “You have to show first by going out there and demonstrating that in workouts and your day-to-day activity and show everybody by example rather than what you say. As you earn their respect in what you do, you are able to use your voice a little more.”

And, what has Cassel found upon arriving and working with the Chiefs over the last three weeks?

“Everybody is out here and we are getting better,” Cassel said. “We are a talented team and what I think makes great teams is playing together and being consistent and fundamentally sound on a day-to-day basis. If you are inconsistent in one area or you’re not all on the same page, you are not going to have a good product out there on the field

“So if we can get together now and put all the pieces together, we can have a very good team.”


Go back and read that next to last quote from Cassel, especially the part about “… what I think makes great teams is playing together and being consistent and fundamentally sound on a day-to-day basis.”

On Thursday, Tony Gonzalez reportedly attended a football practice.

On Friday and Saturday, Gonzalez was nowhere to be seen at mini-camp at the Chiefs facility.

According to the Orange County Register, Gonzalez was an onlooker at Thursday’s session of spring practice at UCLA. More than likely he was there with former Chiefs tight ends coach Jon Embree, who reportedly will work this year as a grad assistant on the staff of head coach Rick Neuheisel. Embree’s son Taylor is a wide receiver on the UCLA roster.

Of course, Gonzalez could drive to the UCLA campus from is SoCal home. Apparently, he couldn’t fly to Kansas City to work out with his team.

That Gonzalez was not in Kansas City this weekend was not a surprise. Again, the camp is voluntary. The Chiefs and Haley will hold a mandatory mini-camp in June. The fact he’s been absent from the team’s off-season strength and conditioning program is not a surprise either. Nobody questions Gonzalez and his commitment to keeping in shape and getting ready for the grind of the NFL season. He’s done that before.

But Tony Gonzalez needed to be here this weekend to show his commitment to the 2009 Chiefs. He’s got a new quarterback and he should be taking this weekend’s opportunity to get to know him and catch a few passes from Cassel and get to know other new faces on the team.

Does he need to be part of this mini-camp to make himself a better player? No. Did the team need him in the house to make the Chiefs a better team? Absolutely.

Over the next week, Gonzalez can sit back at home and wait to see if he’s traded before or during the NFL Draft. But if he’s still a member of the Chiefs come the evening of April 26th, he should be on a red-eye flight to K.C. and working with his teammates for the rest of the off-season.

Gonzalez wasn’t the only one missing. So was Brian Waters. That didn’t come as a surprise, given the fact Waters reportedly asked to be traded after a first meeting with Haley that did not go well. He too needs to get in the building and begin working with new offensive line coach Bill Muir.

Yes the camp was voluntary. Yes both Gonzalez and Waters are veterans. Yes, they are both Pro Bowl caliber talents. But, neither one has ever won a game in the playoffs. Both were part of the Chiefs teams that went 6-26. They may not want to accept responsibility for that, but they have no choice. It’s on their record too.

The only other no-show for the mini-camp weekend was LB Mike Vrabel. No word on why he missed his first Chiefs mini-camp, but he does have three Super Bowl rings. That’s not a good excuse for missing the camp. Veteran additions like LB Zach Thomas and G Mike Goff were there. Vrabel should have been there too.


Born on April 19, 1968 in Gunnison, Mississippi was WR Tim Barnett
(right). A third-round choice by the Chiefs in the 1991 NFL Draft out of Jackson State, Barnett played three seasons with the team (1991-93), appearing in 44 games with 11 starts. Barnett caught 81 passes for 1,188 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Chiefs.

Born on April 19, 1962 in Ft. Collins, Colorado was S Jeff Donaldson. He played 10 seasons in the NFL, including the 1990 season with the Chiefs, seeing action in 16 games and making nine starts. He had three interceptions that season. Donaldson also played with Houston and Atlanta.

LB Rick Hamilton was born on April 19, 1970 in Inverness, Florida. He played in two games with the Chiefs in the 1994 season.

Born on April 19, 1957 in South Bend, Indiana was LB Phil Cancik. He played in 16 games and started once with the Chiefs in the 1981 season.

16 Responses to “Sunday Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 19, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    As usual, excellent update Bob and thanks for it. Cassel brings something new and needed to this ragtag Chiefs team of the past few years, that being confidence, success and an ability to bridge all kinds of gaps with the media, players, coaches and the fans. I can see already that Matt will be a huge acquisition at the team’s most important position.

    As to Tony G’s and Waters’ absences, it seems to me the trade winds before or during the draft are now at gale force. I suppose if you’re going to turn the page on anything in life, you REALLY need to turn the page and bring in new people.

    It’s sad but that’s the reality of what appears to be playing out here.

  • April 19, 2009  - anonymous says:

    F! Vrabel!
    Trade his punk ass too!

  • April 19, 2009  - findthedr says:

    I dont give a crap that Tony G wasnt around. He is a true pro and is always ready. Him leading the chiefs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns last yr is a testament to that.

    Think of it as a blessing that Cottam got more time with the #1s. He needs the practice more than Tony.

  • April 19, 2009  - Spanna says:

    Gotta figure that Vrabel had a prior committment- I can’t imagine him not showing up without talking to Haley about it first. But, after all, it is a voluntary minicamp….

  • April 19, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    We all know little about what is going on in camp (see above). Vrabel should have been there especially if the we expect more from him than just filling a space for a few years.

    Tony G has never been a team leader in the club house. He is one of the finest TE in, at least, Chiefs history but he does his own thing when off the field.

    To bad about Waters, he was a someone there for the media and fans during the season no matter how bad it got. That has changed with the new GM and coaching. I hope he will change because he is one of my favorites but he may be a casuality of the new management.

  • April 19, 2009  - Mike says:

    While it’s disappointing that Waters and TG aren’t in KC practicing right now, I think Bob said it best “neither one has ever won a game in the playoffs”. I’m not sure if they are part of the problem or part of the solution at this point. I’m beining to think the former.

    Regrding Vrabel, he seemed rather upset about the trade, so he may be staying back east as long as possible before he is forced to show. However, he could very well have a prior commitment – Haley did say he was satisfied with all the excuses (my word, not his).

    Good work, Bob!

  • April 19, 2009  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    Good post Bob. All of the players need as much time together as they can possibly get. Who knows about Vrabel’s reasons but Gonzo and Waters have made theirs’ clear. We need to take that into account and act accordingly. My guess is neither will be with the Chiefs much longer if we can obtain good value for them. I really liked both players, just as most others do. However, this notion that it is their right to go where they want to pursue THEIR legacy of a championship is bull#$%*. They have both been handsomely compensated for their skills (particularly Gonzalez) for a long time on a losing team. They will still be receiving good money if they’re here win or lose. If they love KC and the fans so much they should be excited for the chance the changes we’ve made bring and shut up and show up!

  • April 19, 2009  - tm1946 says:

    Just found out the Chiefs signed Jeff Webb, $1. mil/1 year. From my easy chair that is some waste of money.

    In regard to Tony G., I do not believe any dominate TE has been the focal player on a superbowl team. His career has made the years bearable but we have not made the promised land. Time for the old pro to step up for the team who pays him.

  • April 19, 2009  - alex k says:

    I really think you missed the frank gansz jr tony gonzo link…Frank has been ST coach out there since last season. He was close with Tony for 5 out in KC.

  • April 19, 2009  - SG says:

    What’s the passion level of the guys that are there? Somehow I don’t have a deep level concern about the 3 that weren’t. They know when they need to crank it up.

  • April 19, 2009  - Mark says:

    Good job on hammering Tony G and Waters. They deserve it. BUT so does Vrabel, even more. He’s new to this team, and he can’t just live off his rings and rep. I hope SOME reporter in KC digs into this story of his non appearance.

  • April 19, 2009  - deployed kc fan says:

    i love my team 1st and foremost but with that said/ i believe bob and other reporters are just setting us up to hate tony g. we all know he’s gonna be traded to atlanta sometime this week or on draft day. when it does happen everybody with exception of few will be like good riddance. i like pioli an awful lot but i’m begiining to think haley was wrong choice(i hope i’m wrong). anyway has anybody heard a rumor involving merriman(chargers)? i swore i read it on bottom of screen on nfl network

  • April 19, 2009  - CraigK says:

    Why is the picture next to the birthdays a backwards print of DT?

  • April 20, 2009  - Devildog 1976 says:


    Good eyes!

  • April 20, 2009  - anonymous says:

    That’s an 82 dumb asses! Look on the shoulder!

  • April 20, 2009  - Anonymous says:

    Wow….he said “backwards” print of DT. 58 backwards looks like 82 dumb ass. It is DT.

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