The Kansas City Chiefs have had one of the best turnarounds in NFL history this season after finishing at a dreadful 2-14 a year ago and now currently sitting at 10-3. The Chiefs and their fans owe sincere gratitude to one man in particular: Scott Pioli.
His time in Kansas City
Scott Pioli was fired by the Chiefs after last season, and with little argument from anyone at all connected to the Chiefs or their fan base I might add. Pioli came over from the New England Patriots where he had a great relationship with Coach Bill Belichick, dating back to when Pioli was a student at Central Connecticut. Pioli and Belichick’s relationship grew and pretty much where Belichick ended up, Pioli was not too far behind.
When Pioli arrived in Kansas City, he had been around success and knew exactly what it took for a franchise to become a winner after proving success in New England. After a 4-12 season in 2009, the Chiefs won the division in 2010, only to miss out on the playoffs in both 2011 and 2012.
What goes unknown
I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Pioli once, and although it is hard to learn a lot in such a brief meeting, Pioli showed great respect for those around him and was a very likeable and respectable guy that anyone would want to be around. Pioli has always proved he is willing to do what it takes to succeed in the game of football.
In college he would drive 90 minutes to the New York Giants training camp for each practice. There are many things that have gone unnoticed that Scott Pioli has done for the Chiefs both in the four years as his time being GM of the Chiefs and also within this incredible turnaround 2013 season.
Pioli handled the Javon Belcher situation last December better than most would have. To have a player take his own life in front of him, a player he brought to the team himself, and be able to keep the organization together through such a terrible time takes a person with great character.
On the football side of the ball, the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs, although currently without Scott Pioli, would not be 10-3 today without him. Fact.
On the current Chiefs roster, five defensive starters, four offensive, and kicker Ryan Succop were all drafted by Scott Pioli. Among these players include Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Kendrick Lewis, Justin Houston, and Dontari Poe.
There is a lot of criticism Pioli takes about making the playoffs in 2010 and unable to reach it again in his time with the Chiefs. Let’s look a little deeper at the situation. In 2011, Tony Moeaki suffered a season ending injury in the preseason, Eric Berry tore his ACL in the season opener, Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in game two, and Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe also suffered season-ending injuries during the year as well.
The Chiefs finished 7-9 that season, but without an overtime loss to Oakland in week 16, the Chiefs would have finished 8-8. By beating the Broncos in week 17, which the Chiefs did, they would have won back to back AFC West Titles for the first time in franchise history.
Now let’s say that would have happened. Would it really be so easy to fire a GM who led your team to back to back division titles for the first time in team history? Actually, as unfair as it is, football is a win now kind of game, and if results aren’t there, jobs are in jeopardy, so Pioli still probably would have been unemployed with the Chiefs.
It’s so easy to criticize Pioli and any NFL GM in general, but the job is much harder and more stressful than you could imagine. Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore talks about the “8-year plan” or thereabouts, to turn a franchise around. If an NFL GM even whispered this phrase, he would be fired before he could even finish the sentence. Funny thing is, however, Moore with the Royals just received a contract extension after ONE winning season. Football, it’s a different kind of game.
A sincere thank you
Before you celebrate the absence of Scott Pioli from the 2013 Chiefs, realize that this team is not what it is today without him. Yes, numerous players were acquired including quarterback Alex Smith, but the shell of the team was the same last year as the Chiefs sent six to the Pro Bowl. It’s easy to point fingers and want to blame someone when your team is playing poorly. Too often we blame everyone except the players who actually play the game and decide the outcomes.
I believe Scott Pioli gave an honest effort in putting the best team possible onto the field for the Chiefs. For that, I want to say thank you to him. Without his hard work and dedication to the ever long pursuit of success in the National Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs would not be headed to the playoffs this season.
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