Inside The New Head Coach’s Head: Romeo’s First Soliloquy


“I want [my players] to be strong, I want them to be tough, I want them to be physical, I want them to be aggressive, I want them to be tenacious….did I forget anything? Smart? Yes, that should’ve been at the forefront.”

—Romeo Crennel, upon accepting the job as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs
January 9, 2012

Yep, the Kansas City Chiefs and Romeo Crennel made it official. This interim is over, and yesterday they got together to let the world know: They are in love. For now, at least. Even when you’ve started out as friends, any serious relationship takes work—What’s the give and take? How do we want to raise our family? Who will be our starting quarterback?—and this partnership might take more work than most.

The Chiefs, of course, are at a crucial juncture. Some think one small tweak* could lead them to the Super Bowl. But the possibilities are downright Shakespearean. Will we see tragedy, as we did for too many recent years, or comedy—you know, the good Shakespearean kind that always has a happy ending but for some reason isn’t really funny at all? Or just another comedy of errors?

*Peyton Manning?

Crennel has said all the right things publicly—he is here to win a championship and thinks it can happen and soon—but what is he really thinking?

At times when I feel like I don’t have nearly as much as others to add to this ongoing Chiefs conversation in terms of facts, figures, and analysis (these times include the off-season, the pre-season, the post-season, and, occasionally, the regular season), I opt to have some fun and squeeze my ramblings into rhyme or rap or greeting cards or even Mad Libs.

So here we go: In tribute to Romeo Crennel’s namesake* and with apologies to Bill Shakespeare (or whoever really wrote Romeo & Juliet and those other plays that bear his name) and to all of you, I offer our fair Romeo’s first inner monologue as Chiefs head coach—yes, in iambic pentameter (except, you know, when it’s not)…

*Seriously, Crennel is named after Shakespeare’s Romeo. He even has a sister named Juliet.

Coach XII, Season 52

Enter ROMEO.

The D, but not just the D—that is my new situation.
Being head coach is such stuff as dreams are made on
But ’tis really nobler to suffer the sting at Arrowhead
After free agency with no help from Clark Hunt’s outrageous fortune?
I mean, dang! What light through yonder window of opportunity!
What am I to do? Sit here and ask, wherefore art thou, Romeo?
And by thou, I mean me. Here I am.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and
Some coaches go twenty-four-and-forty with the Cleveland Browns
And get another chance. I can do this.
I mean, look at that Green Bay Packers game!
That was like a mid-December night’s dream!
But waking, lo, may pressure drive me mad?
Clearly I recount that time in Cleveland
Hines Ward was plainly out before the marker
But the refs were all, “First down!”
And I was like,
“Out! Damned spot! Out, I say! What a piece of work is that, man?”
No, I want not to get worked up just so
You know, like…a certain coach who but recent left
Alas, poor Haley; I knew him too well
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
He doth protest too much, methinks
Every epithet caught on TV each week—
All the sideline’s a stage, not merely for the players
Speaking of which, I should prob’ly slim down
The camera adds ten pounds, ’specially in HD
(Alack—I finally learned to barbecue,
Having nearly perfecteth my own rib seas’ning
—ay, there’s the rub!)
But foresooth, keep that fat mascot away
Beware, Wolf—
Warpaint is back in town now
(“A horse! A horse! Chiefs Kingdom needs a horse!”)
So may there be a Red Sea of troubles, but
My players are smart; I’ll speak plain and true:
“Friends, back-up safeties, even Ricky Stanzi, lend me your ears
I come not to praise Thomas Jones, nor to bury him…
That’s for opposing D-Lines to do—am I right?
Sorry, Thom—I was told I should openeth with a joke (that’s you)
I’ll keepeth this shorteth and to the pointeth
(I’m told brevity is the soul of wit),
Here’s how I see our fate, in my mind’s eye:
Sure, we’re home again during the playoffs
Another winter of our discontent
But I promise you—next fall, it’ll be
‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!’
(Uh, well—training camp and the preseason)
We band of brothers a true team must be
‘Tis not thine name on the back that matters
But the name on the jersey’s front that counteth

[Awkward pauseth]

’Cause, you know, if this were baseball or hoops
It would say “Chiefs” there, is my point and all
Hell, what’s in a name? That which we call a Jones
By any other name would run as slow, you know what I’m sayin’?
(Sorry again, Thom.)
To my Defense, whom I have loved these years (Et tu, DJ?),
Some will feel the most unkindest cut of all
For when a back-up thou art meant to be,
Starting is such sweet sorrow.
But enough! Offense, far more, will we need
Sweep, draw, counter, slant, post—the play’s the thing!
When Jamaal doth return, the damn ball he’ll get
No more will we be the beast with the two backs!
And O-Line, I have faith in you—protect us
But above all: to thine own assignment be true.

He begins to exit.

“Although…if any of you have a lead
On a decent NFL quarterback,
That’d be great; otherwise, Thom Jones—you’re up.
Because, frankly—
I’m too old for this sh*t.”