Todd Haley might be one of the most interesting coaches the Kansas City Chiefs have had since the flamboyant Hank Stram.
Haley can come off as gruff, grumpy, surly, angry, hot-headed, sloppy and childish. Yet at the same time, he can be very likable. In press conferences he is often charming, choosing to throw in some self-deprecating humor. It is also apparent just how much Haley cares about his football team. He comes to the defense of his players, always places the blame on his own shoulders, and he doesn’t make excuses for failure.
It is a big change from Haley’s charismatic predecessor Herm Edwards. Herm was made for soundbites and passionate motivational speeches. Perhaps that is why he is now a successful television personality for ESPN.
Todd Haley will likely never be given a TV deal to be Mr. Personality in front of the cameras.
Todd Haley wasn’t made for TV. Todd Haley is a football coach.
Watching Todd Haley grow as a football coach has been nothing short of fascinating. Almost the moment he arrived in KC, Haley was saddled with a reputation for being arrogant and bull headed. With the images of his sideline tiff with WR Anquan Boldin in Arizona still fresh in the minds of the media, a story emerged from none other than Kansas City’s own sensationalist Jason Whitlock. According to Whitlock, Haley immediately offended Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters by telling him that “53 guys off the street could have won two games.”
Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Haley after that. The Chiefs struggled in their transition season, going 4-12. Haley was an absolute maniac on the sidelines in 2009, often caught on camera screaming and cursing at pretty much anyone who would listen. He got into it with officials. He got into it with “WR” Bobby Wade.
In his second season, however, Haley calmed down. He had an occasional outburst but for the most part he seemed to keep his temper in check. It was a remarkable accomplishment for a man who obviously had little to no control over his emotions the previous season. His team responded in kind by winning ten games and the AFC West Championship. I suppose it is a lot easier to be chill when your team is in first place.
In 2011 Haley has made some mistakes but his maturation process seems to be continuing. Despite a poor preseason plan and an 0-3 start, Haley kept his cool. He didn’t freak out during the team’s losing streak and he stood in front of the cameras taking responsibility for the situation. Even in the face of questions about his relationship with his boss Scott Pioli and his job security, Haley continued to say that he felt secure in his position and that he believed in his team.
In short, he acted like a professional.
The Chiefs turned things around and were able to rattle off four straight wins. His team came out in the media and voiced public support of their head coach. Some went so far as to say that Haley was one of the guys and that having him on the sideline was like having another player on the field with them.
The Chiefs are 4-4 but they are still in first place in the AFC West. The book on their season isn’t closed. This team is still growing, just like their head coach.
Haley’s ability to be self-critical was on display again today when he talked about how he might have mishandled the practices the week before the Dolphins game.
“I believe we will bounce back from this,” Haley told KCChiefs.com. “I as a head coach I have to do a better job making sure the physical aspect of it [is taken care of]. I feel like I’ve learned a lot this week coming off an emotional, long, physical game, really a stretch of them in a row where we’re fighting our backsides off to get out of debt, so to speak.”
The Chiefs aren’t perfect. Neither is their head coach.
Eventually Haley will be judged on how successful his team performs on the field, but if he can continue to get his players to follow his example and learn from their mistakes, they might just have a chance.