Well KC Chiefs fans, the wait is almost over. The 2011 NFL Draft is only two days away. Last week my post was all about looking at the Chiefs’ first round pick through “Pioli Colored Glasses”. Now nobody can predict with 100% certainty what GM Scott Pioli is going to do, mainly because he shares very little. I’ve been obsessed with Pioli since he took the job as Chiefs GM. In that time he has given some really bland press conferences where he talks in vague generalities. Not much information ever comes out of those. Far and away the most interesting information on Scott Pioli came in Joe Posnanski’s piece for SI titled “A Dream In The Making“. If you haven’t ever read it, stop reading my “wanna be sports writer” drivel and click on the link to Posnanski’s well written and insightful piece. It’s worth the time. Even if you have already read it, reading it over before the draft Thursday night would be a good dose of perspective.
It’s easy for us as fans to get caught up in players we “know” would be a good fit, players whose scouting reports or youtube highlights look good, or players some draft “expert” like Todd McShay or Mel Kiper think would be a good fit. I’m as guilty as anybody. I crave mock drafts like a true Arrowhead Addict, even if the “mocker” clearly doesn’t know the Chiefs that well or have any real insider information. I scroll anxiously down to pick #21 waiting to either question the writer’s sanity or praise their brilliant insight (only because they picked a player I approve of).
But here’s the rub Chiefs fans, I believe and trust in Scott Pioli and his plan for building this team. So at the end of the day even if Pioli picks a bunch of players that I didn’t want or didn’t have on my “wish list”, I’ll trust that there is a reason for it. That’s why some have labeled me a Kool Aid guzzling homer in the past.
After the break I’ll share a few quotes from Posnanski’s article that will shed some light on Pioli’s plan for building a winner. It’s a plan I both believe in and am proud to support.
“Reliability. Dependability. Accountability. Discipline.”
Those are the core principles that Pioli says a team should be built upon.
“All of his professional life, Pioli has longed to recapture something, something from his childhood, something difficult for him to explain. It is something he tries to explain now. He begins to talk about how, in building a team, you want—no, more than want, you need—to find people who will do the right thing most of the time.”
Later in the article Posnanski goes into more detail about Pioli’s past and how it ties into what he is trying to do now.
“There are two experiences that stand out from Pioli’s childhood in Washingtonville, two events that created this intense desire to build close-knit, rely-on-each-other, us-against-the-world football teams. One was in 1981: That was the year he played on a Washingtonville High team that went 10–0 and won the conference championship. Pioli loves that team. There were only 31 players on it. They weren’t especially talented—not one would go on to play Division I—and they had no real history of success to draw on. Washingtonville had never been very good at football.
But those kids had grown up together, and they looked out for one another, and the only thing that mattered to any of them was winning. They gave up 53 points all season. “There were three other teams at least that were clearly, visibly, unquestionably more talented,” says Pioli. “We outtoughed them. We outthought them. We outconditioned them.”
And this is when Pioli started to think about what a team of intensely devoted and disciplined players could do. Well, actually, he started thinking about it a few years earlier. But the 1981 team crystallized the thought in his mind. Togetherness, real togetherness, could beat all the talent in the world.”
That is what you really need to know about Pioli and the kind of players he is looking for. That’s why, even if Phil Taylor’s feet check out, Pioli may pass on him if he thinks his character or conditioning are a problem. It’s why players like Derrek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, and Brooks Reed are probably the best bets to land in KC with the 21st pick.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “Yeah, yeah, Graversen but this is the NFL and the bottom line is you have to have elite talent to win games!”
Posnanski addresses that issue in the article while interviewing Pioli’s good friend and Atlanta Falcons GM, Thomas Dimitroff.
“I think Scott and I both believe it’s much easier—much easier—to build a team when you’re throwing character issues out the window,” says Dimitroff, who rose from volunteer scout with the Browns to New England’s director of college scouting before becoming the Falcons’ G.M. in January 2008. “There are some very, very talented players coming into this league through the draft, through free agency, and the easy thing to do is to bring in the most talented players whether they fit or don’t fit. You can win that way, no question about it.”
“But,” Pioli says, “the key is sustainability. Do you want to build a team that will win once and then implode? I don’t think that’s the job. The job is to make the difficult decisions so you can build the kind of team that can be in position to win every single year.”
And finally, Posnanski ends his piece with one last insightful (and poetic) look behind Pioli’s usually very well guarded walls.
“I’ve been part of winners,” Pioli says, “and I’ve been part of losers. I’ve seen every side of this thing.” He sits behind the big desk, and tears are in his eyes, and he points at the wall with the rest of the Winesburg, Ohio quote.
He closed his eyes and leaned back in the car seat. He stayed that way for a long time and when he aroused himself and looked out of the car window the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood.
“You know, there are a lot of ways to win,” Pioli said. “But there’s only one way for me to win and be proud of winning.” And then Scott Pioli apologized for getting emotional, and he stood up and took the long walk around his desk and toward the coaches’ offices, and went back to work.”
So if you don’t take anything else away from this post, it’s this: Scott Pioli has a plan and a vision for this team. He’s not going to deviate from that plan because of need, Mel Kiper’s big board, or a flashy combine performance. So give whomever he picks this weekend a chance before you make your final judgment.
Oh and also, Joe Posnanski is the MAN and just because I quoted some of the key parts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go read the article for yourself.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!