Haley Lands in Pittsburgh

Haley Lands in Pittsburgh

When Todd Haley was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in December, he did the coaching career equivalent of taking his ball and going home.

On Tuesday it became official, Haley has a new gig as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. By accepting the job he's completing a full circle back to his home state of Pennsylvania.

You won't see former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley in the unemployment line despite being unceremoniously relieved of his duties in Kansas City just two months, Haley resurfaced back in his home state of Pittsburgh to work in the organization his father Dick helped build.

Dick Haley was instrumental in building the dominant Steelers teams of the 1970's. On the surface this looks to be an easy move on both sides. Dick Haley's ties still run deep in the Steelers organization and from what we've been told Haley gave the Steelers a considerable discount for a coach just one year removed from coach of the year contention.

Loyalties and favors aside, Haley might also have another motivation for excepting a relatively low payday: sticking it to his boss.

Unless the Chiefs win the grievance, which Haley will file if the Chiefs withhold his final salary year, the Chiefs will be liable for this upcoming season's contract. If Haley signs on with another team however, the Chiefs would only be responsible to pay the difference of his two contracts. With Haley taking below market value for his services, the Steelers are getting a steal on the Chiefs dime.

But Haley comes with a fair amount of controversy the most of which is his temper that might have led to many teams pass on bringing him aboard. Haley has a track record of rubbing people the wrong way including both his coaches and players.

Dating back to his time in Dallas as the Cowboys wide receivers coach, Haley had a notorious blowup with Terrell Owens on the sideline. He had similar issues here in Kansas City. Most notably a conversation that turned into a fight which turned into a broken hand of the Chiefs first round draft pick Jon Baldwin. There were also rumblings that pointed to a tongue lashing towards Dwayne Bowe on a Chiefs practice field that may have been the final straw that brought on his firing.

Haley does have just as many success stories in Kansas City as he does temper tantrums. Two that are most notable are the turnarounds of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and line backer Derrick Johnson.

Both players had squandered their talents up until Haley was hired as head coach in 2009. The first order of action for the demanding Haley was to put both players on the bench for large stretches of the season. Two years later both players have cashed in Pro Bowl tickets and appear to be completely transformed.

But Haley walks into a different situation in Pittsburgh. As a perennial Super Bowl contender the Steelers don't need any wipes cracked or asses chewed. The Steelers are a well oiled machine that is led by one of the most respected coaches in the NFL in Mike Tomlin. Haley would do fine to continue the status quo and it will be interesting to see if Haley can return to the backseat without any gripping.

My gut instinct leads me to think that Haley will flourish in his new role, keeping his head low, towing the company line, and doing bending in any way he needs to make Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli look foolish for shoving the playoff coach out the door.

If successful in Pittsburgh, Haley will be in position to be one of the sought after coordinators to take over as a head coach following the 2012 season. If the Chiefs struggle to win games again, many will wonder if Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt pushed the wrong guy out the door.


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will Todd Haley be successful in Pittsburgh?


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