October 28, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli greets fans on the sidelines before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Managing Expectations

The spin is in: our expectations were too high.

You might’ve thought this latest debacle was Scott Pioli’s fault, but you were wrong. This is, once again, our fault. Just like when we were too dense to understand the difference between cap space and cash spending, or when we weren’t smart enough to realize how good Tyson Jackson was. Or when we believed the sensationalist media’s rampant speculation about an unhealthy work environment at 1 Arrowhead Drive. This year, to top it all off, we had the nerve to expect to contend for a playoff spot.

We just can’t seem to get this right, Chiefs fans. It’s like we’ve never heard the word “process” before.

It could take 10 more years to right this ship. Or even 20. We won’t really know what we have in Matt Cassel til 2015, and Dontari Poe, being a defensive tackle, won’t be entering his prime til about 2020. I think by 2025 we’ll pretty much have this division on lockdown though. Then another 10-12 years and we’ll get a sweet taste of that AFC Championship game. We won’t win, of course. Not yet. That’s more of a 2050 project.

You’ve all seen or heard parts of Pioli’s recent “media blitz,” I’m sure. The standard, boring non-answers. No urgency, per usual. He did that thing he does where he says he’s taking responsibility but doesn’t take any responsibility. You know the one, usually something like “hey, we all need to do a better job, and that includes me.” A statement like that always sounds pretty hollow when followed up with a claim that Tyson Jackson is playing well or there weren’t any good QBs to draft. He “takes responsibility” and then explains why he hasn’t done anything wrong. And then his apologists get some talking points to parrot, we lose a bunch more games, rinse, repeat. Nothing new here, we’ve seen all this before.

The one nugget that caught my eye was when he said to Petro, “we talked over the summer about managing expectations.” Indicating that he had been warning people before the preseason even started not to get their hopes up. I certainly didn’t remember him doing that, in fact I remembered the opposite. I remembered him saying that expectations should be high. As it turns out, my memory was correct.

This doesn’t mean Pioli is lying. He very well might have talked with Petro about the need to manage expectations. Let’s assume he did. Is that not the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? That a GM in his FOURTH YEAR with a team would be cautioning against modest playoff hopes?

Only in Kansas City would someone even attempt this. After so many years of hearing nothing but excuses, KC fans have been thoroughly desensitized. Excuses no longer disgust us, like they do most people. It’s like we’ve been driving around with that puke smell in our car for so long, we don’t even notice it anymore.

We actually create excuses for the Chiefs now. Sometimes before they even get here. Fans were scrambling for ways to dismiss Brian Daboll’s past failures before his plane even touched down. The Daboll-Hillis reunion was something Chiefs fans were touting! Even at the time, I laughed at that.

After first hearing Pioli mention expectation-management to Petro, I tweeted some sarcastic remark and moved on with my day. It was a lame thing to say, sure, but Pioli is a lame guy. And since he obviously doesn’t communicate well, I assumed this was just some minor foot-in-mouth. Then I heard him trying to soft-sell the same idea two weeks later in an interview with Len Dawson. That tells me this is more party line than slip of tongue. And that just drives me crazy.

Is this seriously what this bunch of hacks is going with? That we were expecting too much? All joking aside, I’m surprised they’re willing to sink that low. Professional football executives essentially admitting that after four years on the job they still didn’t expect to contend. Why is Pioli not embarrassed by this? Why does he think this tactic can save him?

Dayton Moore is doing the same thing across the parking lot. It’s year six over there, and he’s talking about contending in 2014 (year eight) as if that’s a totally reasonable timetable. He actually says anyone who thinks otherwise “doesn’t do their own research” as if losing for many years is the only known path to winning.

Moore is a clown, but at least he actually is at a disadvantage payroll-wise. Pioli has no such excuse. The salary cap has made it so fortunes can rise and fall in the NFL every year…..as long as you’re not the Chiefs. Instead of our regular turn at contention, we get assurances that after a few more years of being bad, we’ll be good forever! The future, people! Consistent championships! What, are you one of those idiots who cares about the present? So shortsighted.

Then the future gets here, and we’re still bad and still being told to wait for the future. This is the reality of being a Kansas City sports fan. Your teams will be bad, and the men in charge will try to save their jobs by selling this ridiculous fantasy to the most gullible fans. “Patience, o ye Cananites, suffer five years of calamity, plague and pestilence and I shall deliver endless Super Bowls unto thee…….at a later, unnamed date.”

Someone on this very site recently told me he wouldn’t be satisfied to “just make the Super Bowl once, if it meant we had to suck for three years afterwards.” Are you f*#king kidding me?! We last made a Super Bowl in the 1960s. Pioli somehow hoodwinked half the city into thinking he’d take us there regularly if we just gave him enough time and looked the other way on enough losing seasons. It’s embarrassing. Kansas City is Springfield and he’s the monorail salesman.

Teams that talk about patience and processes are teams that lose. We know this better than anyone. Did Dick Vermeil tell us to be patient? Did Marty Schottenheimer and Carl Peterson?

I’ll field that one: no, they did not. They quickly turned bad teams into good ones. Herm Edwards, Allard Baird, Dayton Moore, Scott Pioli, these are the guys who talk about plans and processes, and how long everything is going to take. That’s loser talk, and we should recognize it by now. We’ve been hearing it from losers, and watching them lose, for the better part of a decade.

This assault on expectations will probably be Pioli and Co.’s final spin attempt. Not their best effort. I suppose I should’ve been managing my expectations for the front office spin as well.

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