I didn’t quite know what to think about a few dozen Chiefs players getting together for practice at Bishop Miege this week. Was this serious work or an attempt to send some kind of message to the fans or ownership? And what could really be accomplished with no coaches, pads, real facilities and all the other Arrowhead trimmings?
Turns out a lot. We might just be seeing the closest thing to Len Dawson in the last 40 years.
OK, OK, that’s strong language, I know. Lenny the Cool is incomparable. He literally is the Chiefs. I’m not talking about replacing or eclipsing Lenny, I’m talking about a team leader who also happens to play QB.
How important is that?
The last 10 years have seen, in no specific order, Peyton, Eli, Tom, Drew, Aaron and Ben win the Super Bowl. I don’t need to mention last names or teams, do I? And please point out the one who is a wallflower, lead-by-example only, “My job is to execute the plays” guy.
None of them. They all lead from the front, get in people’s grills when they have to and leave no doubt that they want to win worse than anyone else in the stadium.
Croyle, Thigpen, Huard, Green, Grbac, Gannon, Bono, Montana, Krieg, DeBerg, Kinney, Blackledge, Fuller, Livingston, and Adams; there’s your list of QBs dating back to Lenny. With the exception of Gannon, who fits the mold?
Most of those guys couldn’t lead a pack of dogs if they were wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
And stop right there. Montana doesn’t fit. Was he great? Sure, for a weak armed, immobile, over-the-hill veteran who looked like he was made of peanut brittle. His stat line in 1993, the last time the Chiefs sniffed a Super Bowl was a pedestrian 2,144 yards with 13 TDs and 7 INTs. That’s not lighting it up, that’s just not screwing it up.
Was Joe a leader? Sure, I guess, if you call just being Joe freaking Montana, leadership. Would Joe have called all the players, organized and coached practice on a 90 degree day in June during a strike?
Um, no. Not a chance.
Gannon? Maybe. When Grbac was out, Gannon looked like the closest thing to Lenny we’d ever seen. But when Elvis re-entered the building, the party ended.
And I like Trent Green, I really do. He is a great guy and was an above average QB. There just always seemed to be a distance between him and the fans. He was too nice and professional. He just didn’t have “it”.
This all brings me back to Matt Cassel. While the practices this week may or may not have been helpful in preparing for the season on the field, there is little doubt progress was made in the locker room. Cassel personally called players, reserved hotel rooms, set up practices, ran drills and assumed the mantle.
He is the guy; no ifs, ands or buts.
And we should be thrilled he stepped up. We need it, the Chiefs need it. It’s exciting to see a player take ownership of his team. There is a difference between being a star on a team and being a leader. Priest was a star, Cassel appears to be a leader. We need leaders.
Whatever happens this year with the season, one thing is sure. Matt Cassel will be leading the charge out of the tunnel and his teammates will be following closely, both literally and figuratively.