No one knows how much money the Kansas City Chiefs will spend when free agency officially opens across the league, but we know what kind of players that cash will be spent on: players like LB Mike Vrabel and DL coach Anthony Pleasant. Courtesy of KCChiefs.com’s Josh Looney, Scott Pioli explained at a fan forum just what makes these two Chiefs special.
“There are different kinds of leaders in this world and Mike, I believe and feel, is one of the most important kind of leaders you can have on a football team,” Pioli said.
Pioli remembers Pleasant, as a player (1990-2003), possessing many of the same leadership qualities as Vrabel.
“Several years ago with the N.Y. Jets we brought Anthony Pleasant in after the 1997 season and Anthony came in and he worked as hard as anyone I had ever been around,” Pioli remembered. “He worked hard and prepared in practice and he always worked hard post-practice. I started watching Anthony as a player with the Jets and I remember we brought him to the New England Patriots.
“He would take players, for instance, we had Anthony and we drafted Richard Seymour who was going to take Anthony’s job,” Pioli continued. “But what did Anthony do? Anthony would spend post-practice with him and drag Richard over to the dummies and sleds and work hand drills. A couple years later we drafted Ty Warren who was also brought in to take his job and Anthony always gave me that smile of his and he knew that we were drafting players and bringing players in to take his job.“
“Leaders like Anthony are pretty special,” Pioli said. “Mike Vrabel is that kind of leader and watching him this year with Andy Studebaker, hopefully Andy is the future at that position. Until that happens and until Andy is ready, he is going to need some help and a guy like Mike Vrabel, we have all seen it. If you work in this game a long time, there are people who try to cut the legs out from under people and they are competing against them instead of it being a natural competition. I don’t mean to digress but it is an important type of leader that you need on a football team.“
One of the most important — and overlooked — part of Todd Haley and Scott Pioli’s “plan” is making sure every player and coach leads or follows with everyone else being shown the door.
The Larry Johnson saga is a great example of this theory in motion. Johnson was never — and was never going to be — leader in the locker room or on the field. It just isn’t part of his DNA. LJ will always be all about LJ. But what the Chiefs tried to do is get him to follow guys like Vrabel that were natural leaders. It didn’t fail immediately, but once things got a little difficult he showed that his in incapable of being a part of a team unless it’s “Team LJ”.
So, yes, Pioli will hope to re-sign Vrabel and Haley will infuse the coaching staff with guys like Pleasant. But not everyone is built to be a leader. It will be just as important for them to judge if the players without leadership abilities can step in line and follow the path of the team leaders.