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Old 12-20-2008, 11:16 PM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Babb:Chiefs’ Edwards sticks to his routine


Chiefs’ Edwards sticks to his routine

By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

The headlights cut through the darkness around 5 a.m. Friday as the Chiefs’ 54-year-old coach pulled his SUV into the empty parking lot at team headquarters.

The next 150 minutes are precious for Herm Edwards. That’s his personal time, before the meetings and practices and media opportunities, a combination of responsibilities that sometimes takes him long past dinnertime.

On this day, the first meeting is with assistant coaches at 7:30 a.m. They’ll discuss the game plan for Sunday’s home finale against Miami. But Edwards is in no rush to get ahead of himself. Before the meeting, Edwards will do his 4 miles on the treadmill, pump some dumbbells and think. There is plenty to think about these days: the end of a 2-12 season, an upcoming offseason that could either reaffirm or threaten Edwards’ future in Kansas City and the game-day frustrations and off-the-field chaos that led the man toward some of the most uncertain weeks of his career.

If he didn’t get here so early, there might not be time for it all.

“It’s the routine,” Edwards says of his Friday schedule, which is the same the other days of the week and has been for years.

When he started the early-morning routine, it wasn’t always Edwards’ choice. He grew up on the California coast. If his father, an Army master sergeant, was up and being productive, then by gosh, so was his son. Young Herman hadn’t been awake long before his father stuck a broom in his son’s hands and told him to get to work. It didn’t matter that it was a Saturday.

“I learned a lot of lessons sweeping, man,” Edwards says now. “Learn how to push the broom. Never get too big or be afraid of this broom. You’ve got to do the corners. You’ve got to do the little things right. The little things make the big things happen.”

Edwards says he hopes Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt has noticed the little things that Edwards says transpired during a disappointing season he nonetheless calls productive. The record is unfortunate, the coach says, but a group of young players now possesses experience, and a foundation has been put in place.

Regardless, the upcoming weeks could be a time of significant change at Arrowhead Stadium, and Edwards does not yet know where he will fit in. Carl Peterson resigned last Monday, and he’ll step aside next week after 20 seasons. For the first time in a generation, the jobs of team president and general manager will be split, and Hunt has made it clear a GM will be hired from beyond Arrowhead’s walls.

Hunt says he’ll make the ultimate decision on whether Edwards remains in Kansas City, but the coach has been given no assurances and understands that a new GM might press Hunt to hire someone else to walk the Chiefs’ sideline.

Chiefs players say they’d like Edwards to remain in Kansas City, to finish the rebuilding project he started a year ago, but they admit the winds of change might blow Edwards out of town after the team’s final two games.

“Who knows?” tight end Tony Gonzalez says.

“I wouldn’t be surprised by anything,” linebacker Derrick Johnson says.

“Where we are right now,” left guard Brian Waters says, “nothing should surprise us.”

Edwards says he’s confident he’ll be retained after this season ends next Sunday. He says he’s done all he can; made his case to remain in Kansas City beyond the Chiefs’ final two games. He says he won’t try to sell a new GM on retaining him or prod Hunt to give him an answer regarding his future. But he says he’d like the Chiefs’ decision makers, whether they’re here yet or not, to look closely at these final games — and notice the little things the Chiefs have done right.

Until then, he’ll stick with his routine, tightening his running shoes and letting the distractions fade — for two hours or so, anyway.

“I always say: I live by fate, not by sight,” he says. “I don’t worry about things I can’t control. You play the cards that are dealt to you. You don’t gripe about them; you just play them.”

• • •

Here’s a man who has been through the turmoil and survived to tell about it. Dick Vermeil was a young assistant on the Los Angeles Rams staff when new owner Carroll Rosenbloom took over and fired head coach Tommy Prothro.

In a blink, Vermeil says, his world changed. Prothro was out, and so were most of his assistants. Vermeil sat by the phone the day after the 1972 season ended and was one of two assistants to be retained.

Vermeil says the worst part was that he just didn’t know what the voice on the other end of the telephone might tell him. It was hectic, Vermeil says, and a different outcome might have sent him on a different path than the one that led him to a Super Bowl victory and a long career as an NFL head coach, including five seasons coaching the Chiefs.

Vermeil says Edwards might spend weeks, and possibly months, not knowing what his future holds.

“You don’t know when he’s going to be hired,” Vermeil says of a new GM. “You don’t know who is going to be hired, and you don’t know what kind of decisions he’s going to make in regard to the coaching staff.

“There is always a transition period. How well that transition goes is either very rewarding or it is a disaster. You’re either rewarded by it because you get through it, or you’re eliminated by it.”

Vermeil says it doesn’t make much difference whether the Chiefs win or lose their final two games. It might, however, matter how they do it. One or more wins, or at least another close loss or two, might be further evidence Edwards’ plan is working and that progress was made this season. If young players continue to show their development, it could signal to Hunt that Edwards’ project should not be derailed by a coaching change. Another blowout, such as the one the Chiefs suffered four weeks ago to Buffalo, could prove the opposite: that not even Edwards has a handle on the Chiefs’ future.

Regardless, Vermeil says he believes Hunt has an idea what decision he’ll make, one he’ll at least articulate to the next GM — even if, as Hunt maintains, he does not force Peterson’s replacement to retain Edwards.

“Clark Hunt is not a panic-move kind of guy,” Vermeil says.

Others think Monday’s decision to remove Peterson from power could mean more changes are coming. Floyd Reese was the general manager who oversaw part of the Tennessee Titans’ rebuilding plan, before he was fired after the 2006 season. He’s now an NFL analyst for ESPN, and he says Edwards’ future could be linked with Peterson’s, and that might not be good news for the coach. And a new GM, particularly one who’s unfamiliar with Edwards’ vision and the baby steps the coach says signify improvement, might prefer to start with a fresh coaching staff.

“Historically,” Reese says, “if you bring somebody from the outside in, there’s more of a chance that there’s more changes coming.

“They knew they were going through a rebuilding process. Have they improved every week? I’m not sure the record shows it. The new GM would have to understand what they want to do and the direction they’re heading and that standpoint.”

A conversation between Edwards and a new GM would be inevitable. It would be a job interview of sorts for Edwards, and the man who would be his new boss might want to be convinced by Edwards that he is the right coach for the Chiefs.

Edwards says he won’t try to sell anyone that he should remain in Kansas City. He says he’ll be honest about where the Chiefs are and where he thinks they’ll be in a year. If keeping his job means telling a new GM what he wants to hear, Edwards says he will not do that.

“I ain’t built that way. I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m just going to say, ‘Hey, this is the road we chose to travel as an organization. That’s where it’s at, and we’re going to continue to go that way.’ The general manager, I think, his mind-set is going to be in the same direction of the owner and everyone else’s.”

And if it’s not?

“Whatever he decides to do,” Edwards says, “if it’s good for the football team, that’s fine.”

• • •

Edwards isn’t so much standing on the sideline as he is punishing it, running a few steps to his left and then back to where he was a moment earlier. He’s giving one of the Chiefs’ youngsters a one-on-one coaching lesson, and Edwards is as enthusiastic and animated as ever.

His arms flail inside a faded, tattered Chiefs sweatshirt. His voice rises. He looks the same as he did five months ago, when this group first got together at training camp in River Falls, Wis.

“Nothing has changed for me,” Edwards will say later. “Not one bit.”

He says he understands that his future is in the hands of others, and he’ll say his time is better spent making an impact on one segment of the impressionable, the Chiefs players, instead of lobbying Hunt to keep him around to at least begin next season.

Even if he doesn’t, Edwards has the look of a man who knows something you do not, a quiet confidence that seems out of place coming from the coach of a 2-12 team — but seems natural coming from Edwards. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2009 season, and Edwards insists he knows nothing about his future and does not concern himself with more than he can control, the next seven days of that future.

If little else has worked this season, this much has: Edwards has earned the loyalty of his players.

“Any other coach would have crumbled under the same circumstances,” left guard Waters says. “This is not an easy thing. What we’re trying to do, it’s not easy. A lot of programs have failed in an attempt to do it. A lot of teams jump ship midstream and say: ‘You know what, it’s not worth it.’ I’m hoping they stay with the program that’s at hand and allow us to grow.”

Later on this Friday, Edwards sits on a couch and discusses his future. He says there’s not much to discuss; it’s out of his hands now.

“I’m confident,” he says. “But I’m a confident guy.”

In a moment, the coach has to get moving. There’s too much left in the Friday routine to sit still for long, even when he has put in nearly a full day by noon. Before he hits the door and heads toward the next task, Edwards has one more thing to say.

“All the hard work, the struggles and all that stuff, it’s been done,” he says. “The players had to deal with it, the coaches had to deal with it, the fans, everybody. They’ll reap the benefits. This is going to be a good football team. Everybody knows that. We all feel it.

“Whatever happens, it’s going to be all right.”
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:18 PM   #2
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:22 PM   #3
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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He'll stick to his routine of losing, too.
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:27 PM   #4
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Blah Blah Blah. Get the hell out of town. I can't wait for Herm to be gone so I can enjoy watching football again.
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Old 12-20-2008, 11:28 PM   #5
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Blah Blah Blah. Get the hell out of town. I can't wait for Herm to be gone so I can enjoy watching football again.
This!
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:24 AM   #6
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:25 AM   #7
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:29 AM   #8
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Edwards says he hopes Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt has noticed the little things that Edwards says transpired during a disappointing season he nonetheless calls productive. The record is unfortunate, the coach says, but a group of young players now possesses experience, and a foundation has been put in place.
Unfortunate? You're freakin' 2-23 in the last 25 games. That's downright incompetent.

I can't believe we have to sit here and almost hope for this team to be blown out in their final two games to ensure this guy gets the boot. Every little thing has now become about moral victories with this guy. No wonder this team is mentally soft...
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:14 AM   #9
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:24 AM   #10
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:39 AM   #11
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:26 AM   #12
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I have to say, this part of Herm is really commendable. I'm ready for this guy to leave, but I do look up to Herm's work ethic.
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:29 AM   #13
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I have to say, this part of Herm is really commendable. I'm ready for this guy to leave, but I do look up to Herm's work ethic.
goonthur works 23 hours a day and he still suck too
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:30 AM   #14
Count Zarth Count Zarth is offline
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These clowns work harder, not smarter.

That's not commendable.
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:31 AM   #15
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I have to say, this part of Herm is really commendable. I'm ready for this guy to leave, but I do look up to Herm's work ethic.
There are things to like about the man.

But he sucks at his job.
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