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Tribal Warfare
01-02-2011, 12:10 AM
Chiefs are already grappling with the fleeting nature of success (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/01/2555286/chiefs-are-already-grappling-with.html)
SAM MELLINGER COMMENTARY
The Kansas City Star

Dwayne Bowe is the symbol here for the Chiefs. So many of the problems of the yesterdays and the success of today — and even the tenuous promise of the tomorrows — can be seen through Bowe.

By now, his knuckleheaded past is well-known, the self-titled “D-Bowe Show” and the infamous “importing” quote and the league-high 15 touchdowns and Pro Bowl selection this season becoming boilerplate conversation around Kansas City.

His success is a favorite topic around Arrowhead Stadium, too, packaged as the result of a talented but misguided player embracing the new leadership’s team-above-individual mantra.

“I always knew I could be a great player,” he says. “I just needed to humble myself.”

Look and listen closely, and there are glimpses of that old D-Bowe still around. For instance, he alternates between touchdown celebrations and has a shirt that reads “SHOWTIME.” Nobody can be sure how much his terrific 2010 season will tempt the old flamboyant and underperforming receiver to return, and in some ways the entire organization is facing the same issue.

He is the symbol here, the microcosm of something much bigger. Todd Haley likes to say the biggest obstacle to success is success, and now that the Chiefs have won the AFC West at least a year ahead of schedule, coaches and decision makers live in fear of losing the humble and hungry attitude they think got them this far.

• • •

You might know that line isn’t Haley’s. Success is the biggest obstacle of success became popularized, at least in football, by Bill Parcells. He said it in New York and Miami and Dallas and New England, everywhere he coached, the grumpy and unsatisfied gospel spreading throughout the NFL.

It applies outsides sports, too, blamed at least in part for the fall of everything from pop singers to restaurants to Wall Street, and you can understand why.

When things are going so well, with people cheering every time you go out in public, how can you be motivated to work even harder?

The NFL is a breeding ground for these types of letdowns. The Chiefs are sometimes called “Patriots West,” so it’s worth remembering that New England followed their first Super Bowl championship by missing the playoffs the next year. A similar fall has happened every year since.

Tampa Bay beat Oakland in the Super Bowl, and the teams lost a combined 21 games the next year. Carolina made the Super Bowl and went 7-9 the next year. The Eagles went from a Super Bowl to 6-10, the Broncos from 13-3 to out of the playoffs, the Bears from the Super Bowl to 7-9. On and on it goes.

The Cowboys went 13-3 in 2007 and missed the playoffs in 2008. Nobody won more games than the Titans in 2008, who then went 8-8 in 2009. The Bengals won their division last year; now they’re in last place.

This is why the Chiefs are paranoid. This is why general manager Scott Pioli and Haley refuse to call their team “good,” even knowing people laugh at that. They will point to a 31-0 debacle against the Chargers or 49-29 blowout loss in Denver. They’ll worry themselves deep into the night about where they can find another wide receiver or how they can improve the pass rush or what will happen with a tougher schedule and when their remarkable luck avoiding injuries stops.

It’s with this in mind that the Chiefs had a meeting this past week. The message was clear:

Congratulations on your success. Be proud, but remember you haven’t achieved anything yet.

• • •

No magic formula exists here. If it did, nobody would ever leave the top. This is all easier said than done, but the Chiefs plan on attacking the fat-and-happy attitude head on.

Part of that is Haley saying there’s not one position where the Chiefs don’t need to improve. Part of it is leaning on wisdom from veterans like Mike Vrabel and Thomas Jones and enthusiasm from rookies like Eric Berry and Dexter McCluster.

And part of it is in messages like the one that players see every day walking out of the locker room toward the practice field:

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

For now, the players are saying all the right things. Shaun Smith says, “We gotta keep reaching.” Casey Wiegmann says, “It helps that we have a bunch of young guys.” Matt Cassel says, “The guys in that locker room know we haven’t achieved our goals yet.”

The message is getting through, at least on the surface, though nobody can be sure how this will turn out until it turns out.

For a bellwether, you could do worse than the receiver who went from being called the “biggest dumbass in the NFL” to the Pro Bowl in about six months.

• • •

Bowe leans back in a chair at the Chiefs’ practice complex, his feet on a table, the ends of his cornrows dropping out of the white AFC West Champions hat he’s wearing.

He is here to talk about his Pro Bowl selection, and he’s in an introspective mood. He’s talking about going from overweight to being able to sprint away from cornerbacks who can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds; about just concentrating on running, blocking and catching; and keeping his head down and his name out of silly headlines.

All the right talking points are hit, about being glad he went through the bad so he can appreciate the good, about his current success driving him to work even harder, and how he never wants to know his stats immediately after a game.

The whole thing sounds wonderful, and maybe that’s the thing, that it sounds wonderful but much harder to actually pull off, so it’s mentioned to Bowe that this will be a big challenge for him and his teammates because it’s only human nature to enjoy success.

Maybe there’s something to be taken from his answer.

“I don’t think I’m human then,” he says. “I don’t know. I might not be human. People (are) like, ‘Does that excite you?’ Until I win it all, I don’t think (anything) is better than winning it all. I want guys to feel like that, too. Always be hungry, never satisfied just winning this.”

The Bad Guy
01-02-2011, 12:14 AM
Every member of the KC media wants Bowe to be DBowe. I don't blame them, but jesus who gives a shit already.

Count Zarth
01-02-2011, 12:18 AM
Congratulations on your success. Be proud, but remember you haven’t achieved anything yet.



You just know Carl would be strutting around instead.

runnercyclist
01-02-2011, 03:33 AM
The game today against Chokeland is our biggest game of the year. It gives us an opportunity of achieving 3 wins in the fourth quarter of the season.

Simple, consistant message.

Go Chiefs!

KChiefs1
01-02-2011, 08:42 AM
11-5 > 10-6