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Old 01-04-2005, 01:14 AM  
2bikemike 2bikemike is offline
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Packing up a season gone south

Packing up a season gone south

At a dreary Arrowhead, Chiefs get on with plan B

By WRIGHT THOMPSON

The Kansas City Star


There's nothing like Monday, a cold rain and a soundtrack of Percy Sledge to bring on a bout of the blues.

Inside the quiet halls of Arrowhead Stadium, as the coaches filed into work with the usual recorded music playing softly in the background, the Chiefs' organization stood between two seasons. As the final horn sounded in San Diego on Sunday, the last ended and the next began.

“Very busy,” said a predictably coifed Carl Peterson outside the fourth-floor elevator. “It's already started.”

While fans and players alike have questions about which Chiefs, particularly on defense, will return for 2005, most in the stadium on Monday still hadn't shaken the 24-17 loss to the Chargers. One offensive coach gave a perfunctory “feeling good” about how he was doing, before stopping and rethinking his answer.

“That's a lie,” he said. “We're not feeling good. We (stunk) yesterday.”

The locker room was the usual mix of postseason goodbyes, handshakes and hugs. It's a familiar scene, yet one that never quite gets familiar. These players are professionals, but their years in the league haven't quite prepared them for the inevitable attrition. Most everyone acknowledges there'll be some new faces around the room next year. That's exciting — and depressing.

“It's sad leaving some of these guys, because the teams never stay the same,” backup quarterback Todd Collins said. “When it ends, it's just over. It doesn't hit you until today because you always come back the next day.”

He stopped to knock his hand against Trent Green's locker, which is right next door.

“I mean look at this,” Collins said, rapping the wood. “Look how close I am to this guy. Literally 6 inches.”

The day after the season means physicals, which the players don't like. The room laughed when Jared Allen walked out of a hallway and cracked, “I checked myself for prostate cancer.”

Other guys signed autographs for each other, and head coach Dick Vermeil addressed the collected team. The message wasn't pretty.

“We didn't get the job done,” Allen said, relaying Vermeil's message. “We didn't meet expectations. We're a losing team, and that's not what we have here.”

Otherwise, packing up lockers and making plans was the business of the day. Team employees sat at folding tables near the showers and collected off-season contact information, so coaches can get in touch with the guys. Several going-away parties were in the works.

The quarterbacks had a 12:30 lunch across the street from the stadium. Tight end Tony Gonzalez, fresh off his record-breaking season, was arranging a get together for, er, later.

“You're coming, right?” he asked several teammates. Someone asked a question, and he nodded, confirming, “Just the fellas.”

Some plans were more ambitious. Willie Roaf is traveling to three states, visiting his children and other family members. Dante Hall is going island hopping. Gonzalez is going to Costa Rica to study Spanish again, and he is doing a television show for Spike TV. Twelve agents will compete for the services of a star draftee, who will fire one an episode.

“He's gonna be like ‘The Apprentice,' ” Gonzalez said, excited.

Collins, who might have the busiest off-season, has his customary fishing trip in several weeks, this one to North Carolina. After that, it's time to be a daddy: He and his wife are expecting their first child on Feb. 20. They don't know the sex yet — both parents are old-fashioned. Collins is sick of teammates and reporters kidding him about his life ending when the baby's begins.

“This is my last hurrah,” he said, “because the baby comes a month later.”

And it was the last hurrah for the 2004 Chiefs, who entered the year with so many lofty goals. Instead, it's another offseason. Another game of dominoes between Mike Maslowski and Jason Dunn. Another locker to clean out. Allen opened one of the black garbage bags lying on the pool table and began to fill it with tape and papers and now useless scouting reports.

“What all you throwing away?” D-lineman Jimmy Wilkerson asked from a few spaces down.

“Just trash, gloves,” Allen responded. “These shoes are getting sent off.”

Wilkerson peered into his cabinet, making up his mind, the next few months now filled with other such meaningless decisions.

“I'm keeping this therapy putty,” he said.

All around him, the Chiefs followed his lead. Men packed up lockers and said so-long, to each other and to a disappointing 7-9 season. They'd only landed from San Diego less than 12 hours earlier, and already it seemed like a year. But they won't forget. In six months, they'll be back for training camp.

“I think this game will stick in a lot of people's minds,” Allen said. “I know I'll take a couple weeks off and get back to work.”

To reach Wright Thompson, sports reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4856 or send e-mail to wthompson@kcstar.com.
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Old 01-04-2005, 01:15 AM   #2
2bikemike 2bikemike is offline
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The day after the season means physicals, which the players don't like. The room laughed when Jared Allen walked out of a hallway and cracked, “I checked myself for prostate cancer.”


At least he still has his sense of humor.
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Old 01-04-2005, 01:23 AM   #3
stumppy stumppy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bikemike
The day after the season means physicals, which the players don't like. The room laughed when Jared Allen walked out of a hallway and cracked, “I checked myself for prostate cancer.”


At least he still has his sense of humor.
Yea, at least he has a reason to be a little upbeat.
It's called a future with the team.
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Old 01-04-2005, 01:30 AM   #4
2bikemike 2bikemike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stumppy
Yea, at least he has a reason to be a little upbeat.
It's called a future with the team.
Yea quite a few of his team mates won't be around much longer.
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