Former Chiefs DL Tank Tyler talks Todd Haley and more

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Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley (L) reacts on the sidelines against the Baltimore Ravens during the third quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Reach: Do you suspect that any particular team is, in any way, responsible for you being out of football?

TT: “Yeah, I think it’s directed towards what happened to me with the Chiefs. I think it was all Todd Haley. He was a completely different kind of coach (than 2007-2008 head coach Herman Edwards). Haley came around and if you notice, nobody that Herm drafted, other than the first rounders that he couldn’t do anything to, stuck around. He had a philosophy to come in and get rid of the players that Herm drafted.

There was a meeting with some of the older players that were part of the union, Brian Waters in particular, that he could take ’22 players off the streets and win two games.’ Brian Waters and Tony Gonzalez in practice were saying, ‘This isn’t going to work.’ The way he operated, he was a blaming coach. After preseason games, he would point fingers like, ‘We can’t be fumbling, Jamaal Charles’ or ‘We gotta catch the ball, Dwayne Bowe.’ He was that type of coach.

He rubbed a lot of players wrong and was one of the real reasons why Tony Gonzalez left and Brian Waters and a lot of the older guys weren’t going to play for him — because of the way he was. I remember Bernard Pollard getting into it with Todd Haley on the field. The next couple of days, Bernard Pollard was gone (he was another one of Herm Edwards’ guys).”

Reach: What were your first impressions of Coach Haley?

TT: “The first time I met Todd Haley, he was just coming from Arizona and I told him, ‘I like the way Dockett played. I come from that same era, from Florida State and NC State with Chuck Amato. We played the same type of defense.’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’ll see.’ The first words out of his mouth weren’t supportive of me, but that was cool for me because I love competition. That same day, we had workouts. We had a run test and there were 5-6 players in each group. I’m always prepared so I was ahead of a lot of players in that group. Haley asked the trainer, ‘Is Tank Tyler showing off, or does he really run like that?’ The trainer chuckled and said, ‘He can run.’ Haley took it negatively though and not as a sign of a player’s leadership in showing that he’s in shape.”

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Reach: How did things progress?

TT: “I started the year before ahead of Ron Edwards and Alfonso Boone. The next year we’re in a 3-4 defense. Todd Haley doesn’t know yet that my specialty in college was playing the nose in a shade over the center. I couldn’t be stopped there, but he made Ron Edwards the starter at that position anyway during camp. He also gave Edwards a parking spot, and he only gave specific players parking spots who he thought would make an impact on the team that year.

I always accepted the challenge that I’m going to be the underdog every year going into a situation. My philosophy is, ‘I’ve got to make it overly obvious that I deserve this position.’ Early on in camp, defensive line coach Tim Krumrie showed me a football card of his from the Cincinnati Bengals back in 1986. He led the Bengals with 90-some tackles as a nose tackle (96 officially). When he showed me that, it inspired me right away. I took pride in being coached by him. I also took it as competition that if I’m not doing what he did, I’m not a great player. I went into camp with that mentality.”

Next: Tank battles back in the preseason...