Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: The Silence is Deafening
by Jeff Herr,posted Nov 19 2012 11:22AM
Just about as quickly as this season started it went from bad, to worse, to “we’re going to need dental records to identify this season.”
Quite simply this is the worst possible nightmare as a Chiefs fan. The only thing more redundant that talking and writing about the same Chiefs problems they’ve had the last decade is the losing this team has accomplished. What was once the scariest place to play in all of football is now the equivalent to getting a peanut buster parfait from Dairy Queen. You think it’s gonna be bad for you, but you end up enjoying yourself.
With a 28-6 loss to the middling Bengals--who have no business blowing anybody out--one of the most intimidating atmospheres in all of professional sports was reduced to fans wearing black to show their revolt and a silence so palpable the players undoubtedly heard the vitriol the fans were spewing at this team they actually paid to see. The only thing more deafening than the usually raucous Arrowhead crowd is the owner of the most embarrassing team in football.
The narrative would have you believe that Clark Hunt is cheap, only cares about money, and is not in touch with the fanbase of his team. Other views might have you believe that he is paying attention and biding his time. Still others would tell you that he is not his father and doesn’t have as much patience--action should be expected.
The problem with all those lines of thought are that the fans have no idea which is true. In the roughly six years that Hunt has control over this organization since his father’s passing, he has spoken little to the public. After taking over he emulated his father’s ritual of walking the stadium and crowd before the games to mingle with the fans. He came out to talk about the hiring of Scott Pioli as general manager and how it signaled a new era of bringing a championship to this town. The Chiefs were going to be the new Pittsburgh Steelers. They were going to be built the right way and always in contention.
Since then, nothing. And none of the promises Hunt made have come true. The Chiefs are not closer to a championship now than when he took over.
The fans have made up their own narrative about Hunt because he has let them. He has chosen to remain quiet on how his general manager and the coach he selected (Todd Haley) couldn’t get along and let a toxic relationship destroy a season. Mum was the word on the hiring of Crennel and why it would be different/better than Haley. And after a 1-9 season so far--that includes seven straight losses--we have heard no words from the owner of this franchise.
Simon and Garfunkel said it best “silence like a cancer grows.” It’s growing, and it’s growth has already devoured a season, is going after the players and coaching staff next, and in its wake is leaving a disgruntled fanbase that used to turn to this team to cleanse their palate after a season of seeing the team the across the street. Unfortunately, there is no respite now. The Chiefs are worse than the Royals and I’m not even quite sure who that is insulting more.
Looking at Hunt and how he’s run this organization calls for evaluation on how the Chiefs got into this mess. Many people believe there is a four pronged approach to winning in the NFL. It starts with the owner (1), then moves to the GM (2), down to the head coach (3) and finally falls on the quarterback (4). Looking at a team like the New England Patriots, they have all four as some of the best in the game. Nearly all the winning organizations have all four or at least three of four. The Chiefs currently have zero.
They just benched their supposed “franchise” quarterback whom they paid $60 million. They fired the coach they initially hired and now have someone who currently has a record of 27-49. The general manager currently has a record of 22-36 and might have been oversold as one of the true architects behind the New England dynasty of the 2000’s. And the owner, who appears to be respected amongst NFL owners for carrying the Hunt name, has so far not shown the ability to put the right people in charge and build a winner.
Nobody is breaking new ground when they say this isn’t how things were supposed to go. Likewise, its nothing new to suggest that something needs to be done. As a fan, it’s not too much to ask for something, anything, from this owner. For an organization that seems so concerned with their perception they appear to be awfully out-of-touch with their incredibly passionate fanbase.
The time has come for this team. The symptoms can no longer be fixed. Changing quarterbacks to one that is equally inept won’t do it. Cutting one of your biggest free agent signings at cornerback won’t make it better either. The problem needs to be fixed at its core. While the owner can’t be fired, Hunt needs to look at what has caused this mess and let the fans know it will be fixed.
Nobody will blame the Chiefs for hiring Pioli. By all accounts he was the hottest GM candidate around. But the Chiefs can be blamed for giving him too much power and letting the status quo continue for as long as it has. The Haley situation was the first clue and the Chiefs did nothing. If Pioli is to remain in power then he needs to be correctly evaluated and held accountable.
Ultimately, the fans need to hear from Hunt. They need to know that he Hunts knows what’s happening isn’t acceptable. They need to know that changes will be made. This fanbase needs to be reassured that their dedication is worthwhile. Because to this point, the silence is saying more than anything and that silence is driving fans away. Soon enough the only thing more quiet than the owner will be Arrowhead stadium and by then, it just might be too late.