Two reports denied by the Chiefs brass in two days. Pardon me for saying so, but I love this stuff. As an East Coast fake media elite and eager student of NFL front office politics, news like this is my bread-and-butter. I might not be “qualified to discuss football” or “someone you’d want around your children,” but I am pretty damn good at detecting deceit. This is why you keep a Big Matt on staff. This, and for an endless supply of stupid nicknames (see Barry “Stink” Richardson).
Before we really delve into the recent rumors, I think its important that I, and everyone else, admit that we don’t know for sure whether they’re true or false. Sounds elementary when discussing rumors, but it seems like people forget that sometimes. This isn’t about what we know, it’s about what we think. All we can do is make educated guesses, defend them, and wait for conclusive evidence to drop. In most cases, it doesn’t.
Gretz’s rumor about the sale of the stadium naming rights is something of an aberration in that respect. Either the naming rights will be sold, or they won’t. No grey area here. If the rights are sold, Gretz was right.
The Chiefs, predictably, were indignant when he broke the news. Check out this pissy almost-denial by team president Mark Donovan:
“There’s no basis in fact,” Donovan said. “Not sure where the blogger is getting his information, but there is no announcement planned.”
Chiefs 1, Speculators nothing.
Pioli: I like the cut of Donovan’s jib. Who needs Denny Thum and his 36 years with the team? This guy knows the company line! Did you see how he combined smug with righteously indignant? How he refused to directly answer questions? Did you see the entitlement? All while lying! This guy has it all.
Hunt: Agreed. Fire a low level employee and give his entire salary to Mark Donovan. Call it a “disrespecting the media” bonus.
Donovan’s quasi-denial, combined with the purposely vague “nothing is imminent. No announcement is planned” line from an unnamed official that same day, should be looked at as a firm denial by the Chiefs. If they come out accusing a reporter of lying, they’d better not be lying themselves, right? So the naming rights haven’t been sold?
Look closer. That language is hardly definitive. “No announcement planned” is the type of thing they can say is true no matter what happens. Even if negotiations are all but complete, it could technically be true that no announcement is planned. And “imminent” is a word the Chiefs can define themselves. Even Donovan’s “no basis in fact” line….is that really a denial? The Chiefs front office is doing what they always do: attacking the credibility of the media while providing no information whatsoever. This is their public relations strategy. It helps them win football games, apparently.
more after le jump:
My guess is that by the start of next season, there will be a new name in place. “______ Field at Arrowhead Stadium,” I would think. If that ends up being the case, we can safely assume the Chiefs are pretty deep in negotiations right now. So why bother denying Gretz’s report? Why bother lying just to temporarily discredit a blogger providing free coverage of your team?
Why, indeed. I don’t know the answer to that. Sometimes I think Scott Pioli is very confused about what really made New England a winner. It’s like he imported all the crap and left Tom Brady and Bill Belichick behind. “Let’s see, we got Vrabel, we got Cassel, we got tight security, we got a billionaire in a plush owner’s box, we got a condescending attitude. OK, let’s win some championships!”
We’ll just have to see if these naming rights get sold. I’d be willing to bet a lot of money they do. How will we remember these quotes from the Chiefs if that happens? Will we wonder why they lied to us, or will we use that tiny bit of wiggle-room in “nothing is imminent” to let them off the hook? That’s a decision each of us will have to make for ourselves. Personally, I’m not into making excuses for people trying to keep me in the dark.
The Chiefs have apparently been working on selling the naming rights for five years. How long has Clark Hunt been in charge of the team again? So his father passes away, and he immediately gets to work on changing the name of the stadium he inherited? Nice to know the priorities are in place.
My final word on the stadium naming issue is this: do any of you really think Gretz is just lying? No way. Gretz is many things, but a sensationalist he is not. The guy isn’t looking to grab headlines. His coverage has always been strictly informational. There isn’t a doubt in my mind he was actually tipped off by someone on the inside. I’ve seen it suggested that maybe this was a smokescreen to find out who in Arrowhead was leaking information. I suppose anything is possible, but I really doubt the Chiefs would try that one day after Nick Wright’s rumor leaked. The informant would have to be pretty careless to get caught by such a simple, immediate ruse. And if the Chiefs were indeed trying to plug an inside leak, that would be a pretty good indicator that something actually did get out, right? Would they really be trying to tighten up security if everything Wright said was “100 percent false”?
Wright’s rumor is fascinating. And if you believe Pioli’s “100 percent false” line, I’ve got some swampland to sell you.
The radio host’s character and integrity were attacked as soon as this rumor dropped. Hardly surprising. That’s what happens when anyone, anywhere, says anything even semi-negative about the Chiefs. They’re an idiot, they’re a liar, they’re just looking for attention. Erik Hicks, Bill Simmons, Walterfootball, Wright, Brian Waters, Jason Whitlock, The Centaur, Bob Gretz, Mel Kiper, Adam Teicher, Double D, Paddy, your boy Big Matt, we’ve all taken abuse for daring to suggest that not everything in Chiefland is peachy keen. It’s like clockwork. Question the company line, get angry, incoherent responses. This is nothing new.
Pioli’s response shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Neither should the fact that it came via Joel Thorman at Arrowhead Pride. In fact, here’s me in an AP fanshot comment section predicting that story would drop on the AP front page within 10 minutes. Eight minutes later, there it was. This was not a difficult prediction to make. Pioli cozied up to AP almost as soon as he got here. It was a smart move. They’ve got a massive readership and are extremely positive in their coverage. If you have to get your Chiefs news from somewhere other than KCChiefs.com, Pioli wants it to be from AP*.
*As opposed to this site, which he would burn to the ground if he could. I had an interview scheduled with Allen Bailey this weekend. The Chiefs squashed it. And this was an interview Bailey’s people requested, not us. Apparently letting a backup defensive lineman talk to a volunteer blogger is just too risky. All such interviews must be approved by the Chiefs PR staff first. There is only one other team in the NFL that has this rule in place. Guess which one?
Pioli has been silent all year, and the minute Wright’s rumor drops his phone lines are suddenly open. The story they’d like us to believe is that Thorman heard the rumor, called Pioli, and it was de-bunked. Pretty simple, right? Just your friendly neighborhood GM, answering his phone like he usually does.
Please. Remember, Pioli’s policy has always been “one team, one voice,” that voice being the coach’s. He hadn’t talked to the media about anything, not a single quote, all season. Nor had he responded to any of the other allegations that there was trouble between he and Haley (of which there have been several). The fact that he immediately sprang into action here tells us much.
Of course, Wright’s report could be based on false information. But that isn’t what people are saying. People are calling him a liar, saying he made it up. I’m not going to claim media personalities are always entirely honest, but does anyone really think Wright is more likely to lie about this than Pioli? His job is to bring us information, whereas Pioli’s (self-appointed) job is to keep it from us. Ask yourself honestly, if this rumor were true, what do you think Pioli would say? Do you think he might say it was “100 percent false?” Let me answer that for you: yes, that is exactly what he’d say.
For the record, I don’t think Haley should be fired yet. Yes, he’s made several obvious mistakes in his time with us. He has glaring weaknesses in talent evaluation, game planning, and playing well with others. But the book on him (in my eyes) is far from closed. Maybe he really does get the best out of people. That’s a quality worth holding onto at all costs in the NFL. With an offensive coordinator south of 100 years old and a GM who didn’t feed him washed up locker-room leaders to fall in love with, he could make a hell of a coach. Of course, some of you assert that he’s already a great coach. Myopia that extreme hinders the discourse, and prevents us from getting at the truth about Haley. And the truth, from my perspective, is that this season is an excellent proving ground for him. If he wills this team to a near .500 record after that catastrophic start, I’d be in favor of keeping him around. A 4-12 finish and another 150 carries for Thom Jones and I’ll have officially seen enough.
But we’re not talking about whether or not Haley should be fired, we’re talking about whether or not he was going to be fired. I’ll admit Wright’s news shocked me. I never thought it had come that close. And yet, it’s hard for me to believe he would straight up make this up. Integrity, or at least the appearance of integrity, is something most journalists care deeply about. If you make a habit of inventing stories, it will eventually catch up to you. Nick Wright is smarter than that.
As I said at the beginning of the article, I don’t know for sure who is telling the truth here. But I think we should all keep in mind that Pioli’s first responsiblity isn’t to us, it’s to his team. He obviously thinks secrecy is very important to the success of that team. And if he was indeed planning on firing Haley, he sure wouldn’t want us knowing that now. If you think Pioli would shrink from a lie here, you’re very, very naive.
What do you think, Addicts, are Wright and Gretz full of baloney, or is there a leak at 1 Arrowhead Drive?
P.S. ran into a friend at the airport last week