The Coach & Lil Wayne … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new and unusual comes out of the world of the Chiefs that entertains me to no end.

That would be the reaction to the news that Todd Haley took time out of a busy schedule getting ready for the 2011 NFL season to attend a Monday night concert at the Sprint Center that featured rapper Lil Wayne.

Serious questions were immediately asked about Haley’s work ethic and common sense. Blogger Jack Dickey from Deadspin claimed: “when Haley attends a Lil Wayne concert and reps Weezy … the whole thing looks silly and transparent … the reason to laugh at Haley is that he actually thinks this will help him coach his team, or that this makes him look hip, somehow.”

Another blogger, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk wrote: “It’s hard to imagine any other NFL head coach going to a concert less than three weeks before the start of the season … Haley is one of those guys who loves to mention his ties to Bill Parcells. And maybe that’s the best barometer for this one:  Would Parcells have left camp to attend a Lil Wayne concert? Do I even need to answer that?”

Good gravy, lighten up guys. Sometimes I feel like an old foggy in this modern day world of journalism in 140 characters or less, but these two bloggers make me feel like a youngster and I’m off the hizzy fo shizzy.

There’s no reason to question Haley’s actions or motivations in hangin’ with Lil Wayne. Haley’s a leader trying to connect with the men that work for him. When there are 60-plus players under your control, no single way works for each one. One is to understand their generation and their interests and in the case of NFL players, that’s going to include rap music.

Work ethic? I’ve got to tell you that Haley is nuts in the hours he puts in with this football team. He’s on the same level as Dick Vermeil, Gunther Cunningham, Herm Edwards, even back to Marty Schottenheimer. To think that somehow a man who works 120 hours a week during the season is short changing his team taking a couple hours in August to go to a concert shows a lack of understanding of the commitment that Haley has made to the Chiefs.

Granted, the whole story is a bit unusual. Talk about odd couples! Here’s Haley, the 44-year old product of white suburbia, married with five kids and a high profile job, hanging out and promoting the music of Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., an honor-student yet high school dropout from the streets of New Orleans. He eventually became Lil Wayne and has sold millions of CDs, is the father of four children, has been arrested multiple times and spent eight months in Riker’s Island Prison in New York after pleading guilty to marijuana and gun charges.

But then music has made for many odd couples over the years. The connection here came when the Chiefs adopted a Lil Wayne song for their warm-up period during home games. The song was actually from Detroit rapper Eminem. Called No Love featuring Lil’ Wayne it was played during the pre-game moments when the team was on the field preparing for the game. It became an important part of the 2010 season according to Haley.

“We made a video at the start of the season and it was one of his songs,” Haley said. “The players took to it. We played it every home game. It was kind of our … when you saw us gather up in the end zone; it was always a song of his. So, I said if he comes into town and I get an opportunity to give him a copy of it and thank him, I was able to do it. It was a great, great show, terrific.”

So despite the rapidly advancing regular season, Haley followed up on his promise and went to the concert with CB Brandon Flowers. They met with Lil Wayne and were on stage with him.

It made an impression on the rapper who tweeted:

OK, so what was the head coach doing at this concert? He was team building, trying to connect with his players. Many of them listen to Lil Wayne and artists like him. Haley said he’s a big Lil Wayne fan: “I like him; he’s good. He thinks outside the box for sure.”

When a guy coaches in the manner that Haley does, he has to give something back on the other side. He’s hard and tough and demanding. Just a day before he talked about how when he was coaching WR Steve Breaston as a rookie with Arizona “he tried to break him” meaning mentally and emotionally.

For a coach to handle his team that way and have his players respond, he also has to show them that he cares, that he wants them to succeed, that he’s concerned about them and their lives. He must give them a little taste of sugar now and then, and know when to apply a pat on the back rather than a kick in the behind. He can’t be a “butt hole” as Breaston called him all the time. There’s being a hard-ass and being a guy who motivates men making millions of dollars to join together for one goal.

If Bill Parcells was 44 years old today, he’d be trying the same sorts of things that Haley has done with the Chiefs. He would be an outside the box thinker. Maybe he doesn’t end up going to a rap concert, but Parcells would have searched for different ways to connect his message with the players.

Like Haley has done with the Chiefs, he would have used video, music, any sort of media or method to connect with this generation of players. Parcells would have done that because he wanted to win and he would leave no stone unturned in making that happen.

If a 40-year old Bill Parcells was coaching in the NFL today, coming out of his New Jersey roots, he might not try a connection through Lil Wayne. It might instead go through Bon Jovi or The Boss.

But he would have tried anything.

5 Responses to “The Coach & Lil Wayne … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 24, 2011  - Justin says:

    Nice article Bob. I think Florio has a skewed view on this and am not sure why he has it for Haley. I do not read the other guy so his motivations are less clear. Either way, Haley’s dedication is not at question and if Florio thinks he could coach better he should give it a try.

  • August 24, 2011  - Patrick in Atl says:

    “Off the hizzy fo shizzy”… Classic, Bob.
    Great read! I like your take on this.

  • August 24, 2011  - ED says:

    Great article I’m with you Bob to say because our head coach took couple hrs off to attend a Lil Wayne concert is short-sighted and foolish. Bottom line any who’s read or been around Haley knows this guy is workaholic. And to think him attending a concert or taking team to the movies is going cost us games is an idiot. I mention the movies because whether its taking team to concert or attending movie its all the same. Its team building great article Bob.

  • August 24, 2011  - Fansince93 says:

    Great article and perspective, Bob. It sometimes reads like you give the Hunt/Pioli/Haley the same “tough love.”

  • August 25, 2011  - CanadaBrad says:

    Would it be so absurd to think that Haley might just enjoy the music of Lil Wayne (even if it is rap). Rap has been around long enough now that middle-aged fans of the genre should exist. I am almost as old as Haley and if Eminem played a concert close to me, I would want to go see him. People go to concerts all the time. Maybe Haley just wanted to see the show. Jack Dickey and Mike Florio seriously need something else to do.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News