Todd Haley Feared Kansas City Chiefs Had Bugged His Phone

When Scott Pioli took over as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, he vowed to change the culture of the club. The team has gone 21-27 in his three years and has undergone many changes. More than half of the 155 people employed by the team since Pioli was hired are gone. Many current and former employees describe the work environment as uncomfortable, and built on secrecy and fear. That includes former head coach Todd Haley, who was fired in December.

The Kansas City Star interviewed several current and former employees who suggest that “intimidation and secrecy are among the Chiefs’ principal management styles — and that Haley wasn’t the only one with paranoid thoughts.”

Haley stopped talking on his phone, believing that his conversations were being monitored. He even though his personal cell phone, which he had prior to taking the Chiefs head coaching position, had been tampered with.

The Star described in great detail some of the franchise changes aimed at secrecy.

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Chiefs Say Bean Bag Toss Game Has Helped Turn Their Season Around

After a horrendous start in which they were blown out by the Bills and Lions and lost a tough game to the Chargers, it appeared the Kansas City Chiefs’ season was a lost cause.  Todd Haley was — and still likely is — on the hot seat as the Chiefs offense looked stale and their defense could not stop a nosebleed.  Fortunately for Haley, the last two weeks have been a different story as Kansas City was able to take care of lesser opponents in Minnesota and Indianapolis.

How is it that the Chiefs were able to prevent their season from becoming a lost cause and keep their squad in contention?  According to the Kansas City Star via Pro Football Talk, the bean bag toss showed them the way.  That’s right, the Chiefs began playing the bean bag toss game — known to some of you as cornhole — as a team-building exercise.

“We’ve been trying to figure out ways to create togetherness, and it’s been great,” Haley explained. “It’s a way to keep guys hanging around and interacting with each other, and winning helps out. We’re going to get two more because the line to play gets too long. We’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s fun to hang out in. … Had we not won the last two weeks, they might be being used as firewood.”

We are no strangers to slump busters here at LBS, having shown you baseball players cutting their hair, teams sacrificing chickens, and others beating the crap out of a toolbox.  That being said, playing cornhole is one of the more unique exercises in team unity we have seen.  If it makes the Chiefs feel better to say they won their games because of a tailgating game rather than as a result of facing two of the worst teams in football, more power to them.

Todd Haley on His Way Out in KC, Romeo Crennel or Josh McDaniels in?

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking like one of the worst teams in football. They already got smacked at home by the Bills in their season opener and then found out that emerging safety Eric Berry had been lost for the year. Then, early on in their beatdown against Detroit, star running back Jamaal Charles slipped on the sideline and tore his ACL. He’s also out for the year. The team has lost by a combined 89-10 in its first two games and is having a disaster season. The head coach is likely to pay the price.

Michael Silver at Yahoo! Sports says the relationship between Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley has been strained since Pioli brought in Charlie Weis as the team’s offensive coordinator against Haley’s wishes. Silver predicts that if Pioli fires Haley, he will end up hiring Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is the offensive coordinator in St. Louis but he notoriously flamed out in Denver after two years.

Adam Schefter at ESPN took things a step further, suggesting Sunday that the Chiefs could fire Haley mid-season and promote defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to head coach. It would be a natural move for Kansas City considering Crennel’s experience as a head coach and his relationship with Pioli, for whom he worked in New England. I was also told it would be a surprise if Haley lasted until week 10.

Kansas City will likely get slaughtered by San Diego this weekend, but they have winnable games against the Vikings and Colts after that. If they can’t pull out a win then you better believe Haley will be on his way to getting canned. Strange for a guy who earned Coach of the Year last season, right?

Chiefs Backtrack on Plan to Charge Firefighters for 9/11 Game After Backlash

The Kansas City Chiefs have backtracked on a plan to charge firefighters for game tickets on 9/11 after receiving backlash on the radio and on twitter. Radio host Nick Wright of 610 Sports in Kansas City received a phone call during his show Thursday from a firefighter who explained the Chiefs’ plan to have 100 firefighters hold a flag on the field for 9/11.

According to Wright, the firefighter said the Chiefs planned to charge participating firefighters $25 to stay for the game. Wright says he later received a copy of the email stating that the Chiefs were charging $25 for the firefighters to remain for the game.

About an hour later, after further discussion on the show and twitter, Wright says the Chiefs called him to say they decided to comp the firefighters the tickets.

Smart move, Kansas City. Hopefully other teams will take a cue from this and not try to slip one past us.

Two Parent Homes Attractive for Character Conscious Scott Pioli

About a month ago there was a fantastic feature in SI written (of course) by the great Joe Posnanski about Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. Pioli is private and often avoids interviews in an effort to keep his personality and business methods to himself. In this sense the GM is able to maintain a competitive advantage over his competition — keep in mind, Pioli played a large role in forming three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots.

The SI piece (well worth your time) provided excellent insight into Pioli’s ideals when building a team. He searches for high character team players who love the game, want to win, and aspire to achieve greatness for their teammates. One aspect for Pioli in identifying high character players is finding ones who come from two-parent homes.

This point was brought to my attention while watching Inside the NFL on Showtime. I didn’t realize it, but this was actually the subject of an article in the Montreal Gazette two weeks ago, and though it doesn’t mean Pioli restricts himself to players from two-parent homes, it points to the stability two-parent homes provide that is appealing for the Chiefs. Six of the seven players they drafted were captains of their college teams. 11 of 17 key players on their squad came from homes where their parents played a prominent role in their lives.

Kansas City may not have the absolute best players, but they’re going for the right players for what they want to do. And that’s not to assemble the greatest collection of talent in the NFL, but to create the best team.

Mike Vrabel Back to Catching Touchdown Passes (Video)

One of the things that made Mike Vrabel’s time in New England so special was his ability to have an influence on offense when the Patriots got into their goal line sets.  The linebacker caught eight regular season touchdown passes throughout his tenure for the Patriots.  He also caught two huge touchdowns in Super Bowl play.

The Kansas City Chiefs put together a 15-play drive against the Houston Texans to begin their game on Sunday and the drive was capped off by none other than Vrabel.  Big No. 50 reeled in his first touchdown pass of the season and is part of the reason the Chiefs currently lead the Texans 14-7 on the road in the second half.  Video of the play can be seen here.

We can probably expect more of this in the future with Charlie Weis calling the plays on offense for the Chiefs.  Weis, of course, was the offensive coordinator throughout New England’s Super Bowl years and loved drawing up plays for Vrabel around the goal line.  Meanwhile, Kansas City is looking to once again prove it’s for real against a quality Houston offense in Texas.

Chiefs Rout the 49ers, Show They’re Not Pretenders

Anyone not buying what the Kansas City Chiefs are selling yet?  With a convincing win over the 49ers to run their record to 3-0, we certainly are.  On Sunday, the Chiefs dominated a Niners team that nearly defeated the defending Super Bowl champions last week.

After Kansas City beat the Chargers Week 1, they got little to no credit.  What most saw when they watched the game was a Chargers team that made too many mistakes and a Chiefs team that “got lucky” with defense and special teams.  When Kansas City beat the Browns last week, no one cared because it was the Browns.  The Niners may be 0-3 but they aren’t as bad as their record indicates.  The Chiefs put together a complete game against a good team on Sunday and they should be grabbing the attention of the rest of the AFC as a result.

What does a team need to do to be successful in the NFL?  Run the ball?  Check.  At the moment it looks like the Chiefs are going to benefit from having a two-headed monster in the backfield.  Thomas Jones had 95 rushing yards and a score against San Francisco and Jamaal Charles added 97 yards of his own on the ground.

Pass efficiently? Check.  Matt Cassel finally put together a game that’s worthy of his paycheck.  He completed 16-of-27 passes for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns.  More importantly, he limited himself to just one turnover.  Despite throwing an interception, Cassel finished the game with a whopping 127.1 passer rating.

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