View Full Version : Chiefs Posnanski : Pioli has right work ethic to start Chiefs rebuilding job

01-13-2009, 11:57 PM
Pioli has right work ethic to start Chiefs rebuilding job

There are many reasons to be excited that the Kansas City Chiefs hired the prize of this year’s offseason, Scott Pioli, to be their new general manager. Here’s just one: For nine years in New England, Pioli carried the same unexceptional title: vice president of player personnel. In fact, there was no “of” in the title. Just: vice president — player personnel.

And the Patriots never did have an official “President — Player Personnel.”

Pioli, of course, played a much bigger role in the Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories and perfect 16-0 regular season than the understated title would suggest. He was, essentially, the general manager. He was the man who coach and guru Bill Belichick worked with most closely. But the low-key title does tell you something. It tells you that after 20 years of the Kansas City Chiefs being run by a President/CEO/General Manager, things might get just a little bit less pretentious around here.

That’s exactly what the Chiefs need. They need to dig in. They need to strip away any level of arrogance that still lingers. They need to go to work. Over the last 35 years or so, the Chiefs have had only one successful period — that was the time between 1990 and 1997 just after Carl Peterson arrived — and what made them good then is they were hungry, they brought in football players who hit, they beat opponents with superior special teams, they sacked the quarterback, they ran the football, they had an identity and a purpose and an intensity.

The Chiefs lost a lot of that over the last decade or so. They had a few bright moments, sure, but they had no real direction. They had a few good draft picks, but they had no evident drafting strategy. They had a high-scoring offense, but their defense was a complete mess. If someone were to ask: “What are the Kansas City Chiefs all about?” the answer would have changed year to year and, sometimes, game to game.

Enter Scott Pioli. He has been the most sought-after GM candidate in the NFL for years — over time, his name has been connected to the New York Giants, to Seattle, to San Francisco, to Miami, to Detroit and, most recently, to Cleveland. All that time, he stayed in New England with his longtime friend Bill Belichick, and they kept winning games and Super Bowls. “I’m happy with the situation,” he kept saying.

Then Clark Hunt, in his first major hire as owner of the Chiefs, got Pioli. It was a bold and impressive move — Clark Hunt hired the most glamorous name out there.

The best part of all — the reason Pioli is so likely to succeed — is that he is anything but glamorous. He’s a lunch-pail worker — a ham-and-egger, he calls himself — who had to make his own breaks. He played college football as a defensive lineman at Central Connecticut State. He went on to become a graduate assistant at Syracuse. He used to drive an hour and a half just to watch New York Giants practices. He wanted to study the game. His best friend’s girlfriend was working there, and she introduced him to the Giants’ defensive coordinator. Belichick.

And Belichick knew a kindred spirit when he saw one. Here was a kid who wanted nothing but to work and coach football. Belichick knew the type well. He invited Pioli to sleep on the couch. He watched video with Pioli. And a while later, when Belichick became the coach of the Cleveland Browns, he offered Pioli a chance to drive coaches to the airport and do whatever he could around the office, all for 14 grand a year.

Pioli took the job. He was dogged. He showed a great instinct for scouting players. Even more, though, he worked for any advantage, any extra information, anything that could help the team win. When the Browns were interested in drafting offensive lineman Orlando Brown, Pioli went down to South Carolina State and personally worked him out — getting knocked all over the field.

Later, Pioli worked for the New York Jets, where he impressed everyone with his shrewd football sense and where he also married coach Bill Parcells’ daughter. Then he went to New England, back with Belichick again, and in their first draft together they drafted a skinny Michigan quarterback in the sixth round — that was Tom Brady, and he helped turn the New England Patriots into the most dominant team of the decade. There were many successful draft picks and free-agent signings after that.

It has never been easy to tell how much of the Patriots’ success has been because of Belichick and how much of it has been Pioli. But maybe that’s why it worked so well — Pioli never seemed to care whether he got any credit. He never seemed worried how he was being perceived. “I know how things go inside,” he said, and that’s all that mattered to him.

Now, of course, everyone will find out about Pioli because he is breaking away from Belichick. And look: There’s a lot we still don’t know. The assumption is that he will fire coach Herm Edwards and hire his own guy. The assumption is that he will bring in his own people who have the same sort of mission and overall philosophy about football. The assumption is that he will try to create the same sort of atmosphere that he and Belichick built in New England.

In other words, there are a lot of assumptions and not much else to go on yet. But everything sure is exciting now. Pioli does seem like the perfect guy. And Kansas City — with millions under the salary cap, with a renovated stadium that should look like new, with the third pick in the draft, with a rabid fan base that is just ready to get excited about football again — must look like the perfect place to Pioli.

Yes, there’s nothing quite like the first day after a hire, when everything is possible. The good thing about Pioli is we know that on the second day, he’s going to work..


T-post Tom
01-13-2009, 11:59 PM

01-14-2009, 12:05 AM
I got wood reading that piece.

01-14-2009, 12:09 AM
While I think KC is a great place for Pioli to prove his worth on his own, I also think some of his decision has to be based on the fact that New Englands run could be coming to an end. They are a victim of their own success. They lose coaches left and right, and now with Cassel, their franchise is in a difficult spot. I don't think he's running from anything, I just think he is exiting at a smart time. Watch him turn this team around while BB struggles. Pioli's street cred will only continue to grow if that happens.

Hammock Parties
01-14-2009, 12:10 AM
Less ego = good.

Hammock Parties
01-14-2009, 12:13 AM
He used to drive an hour and a half just to watch New York Giants practices.....He invited Pioli to sleep on the couch.....he offered Pioli a chance to drive coaches to the airport and do whatever he could around the office, all for 14 grand a year.

Jesus Christ these guys eat some shit.

01-14-2009, 12:15 AM
Jesus Christ these guys eat some shit.

Yea, they like... get real jobs and stuff.