“As I’ve conveyed over the last three years, everything that happens within these walls is family business.”
— Coach Todd Haley, “responding” to questions about Friday’s alleged
Thomas Jones-Jonathan Baldwin locker-room bout
“I thought I did address it…I addressed it as family business…I’m sorry if you didn’t think that.”
— Haley, when asked about it again three days later
Well, there you have it, Chiefs fans. Just in case you didn’t already realize you weren’t truly part of this “family,”* there are apparently certain things that only “family” gets to talk about—and that doesn’t include you.
*Hey, remember that whole months-long argument over how to divide the “family” finances? And remember how you weren’t allowed to say anything, even though you’ve anted up a chunk of your allowance for who-knows-how-many years?
Yes, the Pioli Administration has always been notorious for its stonewalling, and its newspeak has been well-documented and well-dissected on this site. But am I the only one who feels this “family business” business has taken it up a notch—and, frankly, is just a little creepy?*
*What exactly did happen to Jonathan Baldwin in that locker room? A guy with a reputation for not fitting in injures his thumb and suddenly, uh, nobody don’t know nuttin’ about it? We haven’t seen any pictures, but reports are that it’s a “cracked thumb”—like the kinda boo-boo you might get from, oh, I don’t know, a hammer? You know, sometimes you just gotta straighten a guy out with whatever tool’s available, capiche? Hey, it’s just family business.
And, hmmmm, is it merely coincidence that only hours later, Justin Houston—another guy who, uh, don’t quite fit the Right 53 mold, you know?—is out running all over the field in Baltimore like a madman? Almost, one might say, as if his life depended on it?
The arguments back and forth have gone like this: Even if we fans aren’t part of the immediate family, this particular bit of family business has an impact on us—Baldwin could even miss a couple of games that actually count—which makes it fan business, too.
But many—not just Haley (speaking as instructed by Pioli)—have argued that a team needs to keep certain things private to build cohesion, especially after a long lockout. “We look at ourselves as a family and we try to protect that,” Chiefs WR Jerheme Urban told ESPN.com. (And as long as Urban toes the family line, it seems, his loyalty is being rewarded.)
The problem is that this particular incident is not private—everyone knows about it, they just don’t know about it directly from the Chiefs’ leadership or players. And protecting the “family”—whether that means protecting it from others who thought they were also part of the family or not—isn’t that same as pretending something didn’t happen.
But what’s most frustrating of all to me is the context, which is necessary here—namely, that this is still the damn preseason. And here’s the truth: if “fan business” is the product the team puts on the field for us to consume during the season, than whatever happens in these weeks leading up to it, when they are still getting that product ready for the marketplace, really isn’t our business yet—even if they want to hold their little exhibition games and pretend (and charge us) as if it is. It’s another reason why I am kinda, sorta boycotting until September. Seriously, when it comes to taunting fans, the lockout had nothing on the preseason. The games that count can’t get here soon enough.
But until then, I’m going to spend more time with my family.