Making Yourself Expendable


If there’s any one thing I could change about Kansas City Star sports writer Jason Whitlock’s opinion essays, I’d just add the words “Stop me if I’ve already covered this” at the start. It would be the only step necessary to slowly getting Whitlock’s work off the Star, a long overdue firing if there ever was one.

I’ve made no bones about my belief that Whitlock’s schtick is simply to point out the simplest material that riles up the lowest common denominator in all of us and is as lacking in context and as rife with indignant pretentiousness as any figure in the media.

This leads to all of his work having the same stinkin’ theme: race or baselessly speculating about personal conflict. That’s it. That’s what he does. He’s a one-note horn that’s flat every time. (His temporary alliance with Rush Limbaugh a few years ago should have surprised no one.)

Which is why it’s even more surprising that Whitlock’s latest waste of inches in the paper is even more useless than his work normally is. He expends no fewer than 719 words in 20 paragraphs on a tirade about how secretive the Chiefs front office is. (Truly an editor’s delight, Mr. Whitlock is.)

To truly examine his bankrupcy of thought, continue reading.

To summarize, although you can read the piece for yourself, is that Whitlock remembers being informed at the Chiefs’ OTAs that even trivial on-field discussions were off-the-record. This upset him, and he can’t seem to understand why the Chiefs insist on being so secretive under Pioli. Even to the extent of saying, and I quote:

"What is he hiding?"

Yes, Chiefs fans. Whitlock is officially channeling the Bobbsey Twins.

So now that Jason Whitlock, a sleuth’s sleuth, is on the case, it’s only a matter of time before Pioli’s skeletons come to light. And here’s now the detective mystery unfolds, quoting directly from his piece in the Star:

"Paranoia rules Kansas City’s professional football franchise. You’ve read my previous complaints about the air of CIA-like secrecy that general manager Scott Pioli brought with him from New England."

"The rules at Arrowhead remind me of visiting a federal penitentiary. Reporters are locked in a small room and have to bang on a door and ask permission to be given access to the bathroom. Saturday, rather than open up the locker room to the media, the rookies were brought to a podium one by one and allowed to interact with reporters for six to seven minutes while supervised by the media-relations staff. You could tell the players had been prepped to say as little as possible.The rookies are no different from the veterans."

"And if we take a look at the Dez Bryant-Jeff Ireland controversy engulfing the Dolphins organization, we might find it offers a bit of context as to what is transpiring here.Ireland is the general manager of the Dolphins. He is Bill Parcells’ top lieutenant. Parcells, of course, is Pioli’s father-in-law and Todd Haley’s coaching mentor. Ireland was in the news last week because it was revealed that in a predraft interview he insulted Dez Bryant by asking the rookie receiver if his mother was a prostitute"

"This is why some NFL executives and coaches despise the media."

"I don’t care how much money these young players make, they’re still mostly immature kids."

If you read through this piece as it is layed out above, it actually seems pretty reasonable. Under Pioli, the Chiefs are incredibly secretive with anything involving their players. They are shielded from the media, isolated when they’re not, and coached when they speak. This is probably a direct or indirect result of the stressors of dealing with what can be a vicious media beast. And at the end of the day, we are just talking about kids. All in all, a pretty solid argument.

Except that’s not the argument Whitlock is making.

I changed none of the text above, I just rearranged Whitlock’s entire article to answer his own stupid question.

Whitlock spends 20 paragraphs complaining aloud and wondering why the Chiefs don’t allow freer media access to its players — when in the same article, he cites at least one major reason as to why exposing the media beast to players can have negative consequences.

But despite being well aware of the Dez Bryant situation, Whitlock never comes to that conclusion. Instead, this is his “guess” as to what Pioli is hiding:

"A lack of genuine leadership skills. Fear, intimidation and secrecy are his top leadership tools."

I’m not making this up. That’s Sherlock Whitlock’s grand conclusion. You could have simply replaced his most recent article with a picture of a snake eating its own tail.

Normally I’d take this opportunity to conclude my post by taking a final verbal dump on Whitlock’s paper-thin persona. But the main thrust of Whitlock’s piece — that he has zero access to the goings-on at One Arrowhead Drive — has inspired me to instead address the Kansas City Star directly.

If there are any honchos for the Star reading this, please take special note:

Now is the time to part ways with Jason Whitlock. He is openly writing about how little access and how little information he is privy to. His piece clearly demonstrates that his creative capacities cannot compete with Scott Pioli’s ability to lock him out.

You as a media outlet would be better served to force his resignation since he provides no insider information (unlike, say, Bob Gretz or even the folks here or at Arrowhead Pride), and replace him with somebody with enough savvy to navigate the organization’s inner political contours.

We all wear out our welcome. Whitlock hit his stride during the Vermeil-to-Herm transition, and has slowly been cycled out of relevancy. We fans disparage it. He openly acknowledges it. The only party left to act are yourselves.