With all of the changes that have gone on in Kansas City, does that make the Chiefs a sleeper team to watch? John Lopez at SI.com takes a look at the factors.
Why it makes sense:
Scott Pioli certainly knows the formula for success — he helped draw it up alongside names like Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Already, Pioli has turned over the Chiefs’ roster in quick order, making several daring moves along the way. No one is expecting a Super Bowl appearance, but there are lots of good vibes in Kansas City and a sense that the turnaround isn’t too far down the road.
Gone are the country club days of not holding all players to the same standards of professionalism. The perfect example: It took 2008 first-round pick Glenn Dorsey five days to pass the conditioning test that allowed him to begin practice. While his teammates practiced, the $22 million out-of-shape Dorsey had to go through humiliating conditioning drills on the sideline. The message was clear. No matter who you are or how much money you make, if you slack, you sit.
Why it may not fly:
This is a bad team. I mean, really, really bad. Winning just six times in its last 32 games tells the biggest part of the story. But the problems run deeper.
There has been a lot of attitude and complacency on this team, a product of the previous regime. That doesn’t get better overnight. Veteran players are griping, Larry Johnson is hinting at wanting a trade and the talent holes are gaping.
And did we mention that the $63 million franchise quarterback never has started a playoff game or been a regular NFL starter?
Will it happen?
Nope. It’s just asking too much. The Chiefs have cleared some cap space, but they are at least four or five years away.
Sports Illustrated has some of the best writers in the business (and just poached Joe Posnanski from the Star) but sometimes they clearly aren’t paying attention. I’ve been as hard on LJ as anyone, but he has been a perfect citizen since Scott Pioli and Todd Haley took over at Arrowhead, so to make it sound like he has still been hinting at wanting a trade during camp is just poor reporting.
The rest of the points are just about right. By all accounts the franchise is headed in the right direction thanks to Pioli and Haley. Four or five years is a bit much to me, because with a continued weak AFC West, the Chiefs can be legitimate playoff contenders next season and will be a tough out this year.
When Derrick Thomas is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend in Canton, his son Derrion will represent him at the ceremony. Candace Buckner at the Kansas City Star looks at how the naturally quiet Derrion will be stepping outside of his comfort zone when he shares the spotlight with his father this weekend.
Last Friday, when his father’s former Chiefs teammate Neil Smith asked him — actually, told him — to say a few words to hundreds of fans celebrating at the Derrick Thomas Festival at the City Market, Derrion obliged. Because really, there’s no telling Neil Smith — a very large man — no. Instead, Derrion stepped up to the microphone.
Such is life for Derrion, the 19-year-old son of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas who one day hopes to play football at the University of Missouri.
However, on Saturday night, a very special night in Canton, Ohio, Derrion will proudly stand front and center. Thousands of eyes will be watching, and many more will do the same on their television sets. And though Derrion cares little for the spotlight, he’s going to push aside all that shyness when his father is posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s kind of something that I wanted to do because a couple other people asked me if I’d like to do it. I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Often when a deceased player gets elected into the Hall of Fame, family members — primarily a son — will represent the inductee. According to Joe Horrigan, the Hall of Fame vice president of communications, Derrion will not give live remarks on stage. However, Derrion and his grandmother, Edith Morgan, have prerecorded narration that will be shown on the big screen, accompanying highlights of Thomas’ career. Former Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson will give remarks on behalf of the family, and then Derrion will be announced to the stage and with Peterson will unveil his father’s bronze bust.
I’m really excited that Derrion is going to be there this weekend to stand there for his father. At the same time I’m bummed he won’t be giving a live speech. When I talked to Bob Gretz about the ceremony, that was what I was most looking forward to. The narration for the highlight film will be amazing all the same and to be honest I will be glued to the screen all day long. Carl Peterson is not a popular man around these parts right now, but I would bet money his speech for Derrick will be the best of the day. Book it.
With the recent lack of success for professional sports in the Kansas City area, does that mean KU is poised to hog the spotlight this year? Bill Mayer seems to think so.
Talk about being blessed with a genie in a jug and the stopper in your hand: That’s the enviable status of the Kansas University athletic program as 2009-10 approaches.
The Kansas City Royals are en route to a 100-loss baseball season; even mainstays such as Zack Greinke are having trouble working miracles. The restructuring Kansas City Chiefs will have a terrific football season if they win as many as six games. K.C. soccer remains as dull and inefficient as ever, and there are no hockey or basketball franchises to create box office and media stampedes.
So here sit the Kansas Jayhawks, strong contenders for the Big 12 North football title, while the basketball team is favored by many to win two more league championships, then a national crown. If Bonnie Henrickson and the KU basketball women can pick up where they left off after that 16,000-plus fan finale last season, the sports spotlight will feature Crimson and Blue activities more than it has for a long time.
Kansas is in a tremendous position to rule the Midlands and soak up the ongoing coverage.
The Jayhawks should have the sort of winning seasons that the Royals and Chiefs could only dream about right now. No one is going to argue with that. As far as the Royals go, I can’t remember the last time I heard a positive call about the team on sports radio and that likely isn’t going to change until Trey Hillman is fired. But my argument for the Chiefs is that the excitement level for this team is the highest it’s been since 2003 when the team was riding a perfect 9-0 record. 99% of Chiefs fans realize 8 or 9 wins is probably the best case scenario this season, but to think they need to win 10 or 11 games for the area to be excited about this team is absurd.