There isn’t a lot going on right now and that will probably be the case until the Chiefs leave for training camp at the end of July. This summer the USA today is taking a look back at the AFL — in honor of it’s 50th anniversary season — and they are already producing must reads. This morning we find out about the “babbysitting” NFL teams did with prospects and the lengths AFL teams went to in order to steal them. The “granddaddy” of babbysitting casses involved both Dallas and Kansas City.
The night before Thanksgiving in 1965, the Cowboys’ babysitters, Buddy Young and a stockbroker named Wallace Reed, went to the Prairie View A&M campus and picked up coveted receiver Otis Taylor and a marginal lineman, Seth Cartwright. The players were “invited” to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Dallas and, as Cowboys personnel chief Gil Brandt recalls, were stashed at the Holiday Inn off North Central Expressway in suburban Richardson.
The Chiefs worried when calls to Taylor’s dorm room went unanswered. Finally, Chiefs general manager Don Klosterman called Taylor’s mother and told her that he suspected her son had been kidnapped. Chiefs operative Lloyd Wells — who was close to Taylor’s family and had known the receiver since junior high — tracked down the players’ whereabouts. The Cowboys’ babysitters, though, wouldn’t let Wells through the hotel lobby.
Brandt remembers that Reed, stationed outside the room, fell asleep.
“Too many cocktails.”
That allowed Wells to whisper to Taylor from the parking lot. In addition to reminding his target of their kinship in pursuing women and the chance that he might lose his job if he didn’t land Taylor, Wells passed along a promise from Klosterman: A red Thunderbird, which Taylor desired, was waiting in the parking lot at the Chiefs’ headquarters.
Taylor — and Cartwright — climbed out the window. They flew to Kansas City, but not before Wells took them to Fort Worth for a flight after becoming suspicious of two men waiting at the terminal at Love Field in Dallas. The red T-Bird was indeed waiting. Taylor drove it back to Texas after signing his contract with the Chiefs.
Wow. I am the first to admit that I need to read up more on the history of both the NFL and AFL and this series by USA Today is a great wasy to start for me. It’s crazy the lengths AFL teams went to in order to steal players from the big boys of the NFL. Can you even imagine if Taylor was never a Chief? You never want to give one player too much credit for a team’s success, but I would bet the Chiefs don’t beat the Vikings without him.
Yes, things are slow, but is the media in Kansas City creating stories? If you are to believe Nathan Kent from Home of the Chiefs, that’s exactly what has been going on over the past month.
Jason Whitlock is hungry for information, and he’s accustomed to being fed frequently. So is the rest of the KC sports media. For years they’ve been conditioned to anticipate a week’s worth of material any time the head coach or GM opened his mouth. Not so anymore. The pack is accustomed to steak and lobster, but Haley and GM Scott Pioli are feeding them cold porridge instead. It’s no wonder, then, that when Brian Waters gave Whitlock a morsel by confiding in him his frustration with his first interaction with his new coach, Whitlock smelled the heavenly aroma of lump charcoal, mesquite, and drawn butter.
Thus, a controversy was born. Whitlock, with no direct quotation and no outside corroboration, impugned the reputation of the team’s only returning 2008 Pro Bowler and longest tenured vet. He posted the story on the Star’s website shortly before midnight. By 1AM it was already hotly debated on forums and message boards. By the following afternoon Bob Gretz had already denounced Waters as having failed Haley’s and Pioli’s expectations. The press ate it up. Fans did too. Steak and lobster indeed.
In the interim, every action or inaction Waters made was scrutinized. He never spoke a word of rebuttal, which tacitly implied (and probably rightly so) that every word Whitlock wrote was true. Brian Waters was a crybaby and a quitter. This was confirmed by his decision to skip OTAs. The fact that he seldom attends them didn’t play into the assessment. There was no similar vitriol levied at Mike Vrabel, who also abstained from the voluntary workouts. This anti-Waters sentiment was exclusionary of all outside rationale, and, as is customary with any vilification of a scorned athlete, the impugnment of his character was paired with the impugnment of his ability.
I bought into the Waters stuff as much as the next guy, if not more, but have to disagree that there’s nothing there. I thought it was a story then and I still think it is now. If anyone thinks the Brian Waters situation is over and done has a surprise coming, probably during the first week of training camp. Maybe it will be after Todd Haley assigns Waters to a rookie dorm room or when he is still running with the same unit as Brodie Croyle but it’s coming so get ready.
Things have been bad in Kansas City in recent years, but does that make the city one of the most hard-luck places in the country? According to the Washington Examiner it does.
Thank goodness these people have access to terrific barbecue. It’s not just the past sports year that has been awful. The Chiefs are a combined 6-26 the past two seasons and the Royals fourth-place finish last summer was its best since 2003. They’re contending for last once again, as will the Chiefs again this fall.
Joining Kansas City on the list is Oakland, Washington and Seattle. Maybe it’s because I’m a Chiefs fan and not a Roylas fan, but I don’t think things have been quite that bad. For as bad as the Chiefs have been over the past two seasons, they were in the playoffs the year before that. You’re telling me that the folks in Cincinatti haven’t been more hard luck than in Kansas City? The Bengals made the playoffs four years ago and lost their quarterback to a blown out knee before everyone had taken their seat! That is more hard luck than anything the Chiefs have been through. Not to mention the Reds being just as poor as the Royals in recent years.