Concerns Concerning Character Concerns


The right 53.  If there was ever a phrase that embodied GM-speak, this is it.  If we bring someone in, he was part of the right 53.  If we don’t, he wasn’t.  Either way, we are 100% correct in everything we choose to do or not do.  “Right 53” essentially translates to “we are always right.”

Do other teams have GM-speak catch-phrases like this?  I’m sure some probably do.  I doubt most of them are parroted with such gusto, but the point I’m making is that Scott Pioli is not alone in his use of these tactics.  They’re par for the course in professional sports.  Hell, “right 53” isn’t even his only phrase.  He talks about “the right fit” every time he gives an interview.  And I think we’ve all heard “substance over sizzle” a time or two by now.  Both of these are similar to “right 53” in that what they’re supposed to mean is actually just a blanket justification for anything the Chiefs care to do.  Kelly Gregg over Aubrayo Franklin?  Substance over sizzle.  Passed on a draft pick?  He wasn’t part of the right 53.  Missed out on a free agent?  Bad fit.  League basement payroll?  Right back to substance over sizzle.  Presto, infallibility.  We have always been at war with East Asia. 

For Pioli’s first two years here I snickered whenever I heard “right 53”, but I actually did think it meant something.  Or at least, that he thought it meant something.  Character, work ethic, intelligence, Vrabel, etc.  People he and Haley could control.  Thats what I thought he was really after, and thats what I thought the phrase was supposed to mean.  I was wrong.

more after le jump:

Right 53 doesn’t mean anything anymore, if it ever did.   Because no definition of “right 53” includes Jonathan Baldwin, Justin Houston, Jared Gaither and Jerrell Powe.  These guys are the exact opposite of what that phrase was supposed to mean.  Upside lottery tickets.  Hey, I love ’em.  But up until this season we all thought Pioli didn’t.  Its like some guy spent two years telling us he didn’t like ice cream and then when he finally had us over to his house his freezer was full of Cherry Garcia and Americone Dream. 

Last week’s Baldwin/Jones locker-room showdown is a prime example of the risk you run bringing in guys like this.  Flashy diva receivers aren’t exactly the safest bet, in a number of ways, but I have to admit I’m surprised Baldwin is having problems this early.  As much as I’d love to point the finger at Jones here (you know I want to), Jamaal Charles‘ retweet pretty much squashed that possibility.  It appears he really does have a lot of respect for Jones, and reports indicate Jones may even have been sticking up for him in this exchange.  God damn it.

Here’s where I admit something you never, ever thought I’d admit.  If Jones was actually sticking up for Charles in this altercation, I think thats pretty cool.  Jamaal has always seemed like an easy-going guy, and I could see him not really knowing what to do if some rookie disrespected him.  If he and Jones actually have that kind of dynamic, well…..I can respect that.

Still, I don’t know if locker-room leadership should ever lead to a fist-fight.  I know stuff happens in locker-rooms, but shouldn’t being a leader mean knowing how to diffuse that type of nonsense?  If a beatdown was really called for, what type of guy must Jonathan Baldwin be?

The Chiefs are in a weird spot here, because they either have to admit their anointed locker-room savior did something wrong, or admit there may be a problem with their first round pick.  Instead they’ve once again chosen to say nothing, which to me only makes matters worse.  The story leaked, deal with it.  Pretending it doesn’t exist will only fuel the “speculation” that for some reason gives our front office fits.  The weirdest part is they apparently told Teicher they’d address the situation, only to have Haley patently refuse to do so in classic Todd Haley fashion.  Nice psych-out.

The Star could’ve been their friend here, but for some reason the Chiefs don’t seem to want that.  They’d rather pretend nothing happened and lose control of the story.  This is how a team that insists they have excellent character deals with evidence to the contrary.  Cross the arms, stamp the foot. 

It’ll be interesting to see how Haley deals with Baldwin when he does come back.  We know our coach fancies himself a disciplinarian, but he hasn’t had to deal with any legitimate problem-children since LJ was shown the door.  For his first two years here Pioli brought in nothing but Boy Scouts.  It was like coaching with training wheels.  And lets not forget, while Larry was here Haley chose to repeatedly feature him over the most electric player on our team.  He’s great at moving talented players up and down the depth chart and claiming it doesn’t mean anything.  We’ll see if that masterful tactic works on Baldwin.  Say hello to Jerheme Urban, starting receiver!

There’s also Pioli to consider here.  How does he feel about his first-round pick being in the doghouse before the season even starts?  For most GMs, self-preservation is task numero uno.  If Baldwin rides the pine, and Tin Man is out there gettin’ his tin on…..

This is really a pretty fascinating situation.  Character concerns on this team?  Seriously?  I know we all raised our eyebrows at those draft picks, but I don’t think any of us saw such an early storm coming.  After that inexplicable Justin Houston holdout, too.  It appears our coaching staff may have its work cut out for it with some of these guys.  But the potential payoff is so tantalizing! 

I am not concerned with these character concerns.  I think locker-rooms are probably pretty similar across the league, and I believe tangibles trump intangibles.  I just find it very interesting that the Chiefs are dealing with this one year after drafting 7 team captains.  The worm has certainly turned. 

Scott Pioli once said he isn’t a risk-taker.  I for one am glad that is no longer the case.  Risk is exciting.  I like excitement.  On television, that is.  My personal life is all soft rock, nerdy DVDs and history books.  The right