Merlin's Magic: Empty Vessel Syndrome Edition

Now that the Chiefs are in the off-season, Chief fans of all types get to engage in the fun pastime of armchair GM. It makes for great discussions but there is a pitfall I see people falling into. That pitfall is the ‘empty vessel syndrome’.

The empty vessel syndrome is when someone presents themselves in a vague manner. It is often seen in politics where politicians use vague language. In that context, it’s done by design. What it does is invite people who are inclined to support that politician to project their own positions and values onto that politician.

What does this have to do with football or the Chiefs in particular? The syndrome is seen all over life. It’s not confined to politics. We saw some of this last year, with Pioli and Haley coming in. They talked in high level terms. This wasn’t done to deceive the fans. It was done to keep their intentions hidden from the teams they compete with. That’s fine and I understand it. However, it does invite the empty vessel syndrome. So, why bring this up now? It’s because we are seeing the empty vessel syndrome, part two in KC. With the hiring of Weiss and Crennel, fans are once again engaging in the empty vessel syndrome.

Spotting this syndrome is not hard. The basic formula is as follows: (insert name of person in question, Pioli/Haley/Weiss/Crennel) is a smart guy. To fix our (offense, defense, team in general) he will (draft, sign, trade for) X. X just happens to be what the fan himself would do. It’s something we all fall into from time to time. Awareness is the first step to avoiding this syndrome. Before you come to the conclusion that the Chiefs will do X, ask yourself some questions. What reason do I have to think the Chiefs will do X? Is there anything in the track record of the decision maker in question that makes you believe that the Chiefs will do X? The important thing is not to project your preferences onto the Chiefs, but use the clues they give you to reach a conclusion based on their values, not yours.

A couple of other notes, since we are ramping up the draft. While bowls like the Senior Bowl is important, the Chiefs have years of tape on most players they are looking at. Don’t go to crazy with a good or bad performance from a particular player. There are always exceptions, and they tend to revolve around players coming from lesser schools. For those players, questions about level of competition are strong. A poor performance can really hurt their draft position. For example, Vladimir Ducasse the OT out of UMass showed during the Senior Bowl and practices that he is more of a project than a complete player at this point. He may have cooled the jets on his rise up the draft board.

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