After nine years in New England and three in Kansas City, the NFL Draft is the one arena in which you build the foundation for your football team. And throughout his successful NFL career, that began in Cleveland fetching coffee for the staff, cleaning up the papers left behind on the floor and snatching the last piece of pizza in the Draft Room, Pioli is poised for the stretch run to make the Kansas City Chiefs Super again.
In this two-part, one on one interview, Scott Pioli talks about his earliest recollection of the NFL draft as a New York Giants fan, his path from Cleveland to Kansas City and the things he looks for when selecting young athletes to represent and contribute to the Kansas City Chiefs. He also discusses why he doesn't like the name War Room and if he prefers drafting talent versus need.
Warpaint Illustrated: As an NFL Draft junkie, I loved watching the draft on Television. It was my favorite time of the year. For you as a New York native, what were you earliest recollections of the NFL Draft and what about it did you remember the most?
Scott Pioli: "Watching the draft was like a relatively new phenomenon. Where I grew up as a kid Cable TV didn't exist there were just three networks. I was always a football fan and a football historian. I loved to read about it and I loved to meet some of the people like every other person that falls in love with football I have my heroes. So following the draft it wasn't this thing like it is now. When I was a kid I only followed the New York Giants and the New York Jets because as a Giant fan you love to make fun of what the Jets were doing wrong or always hope they were doing wrong. I watched college football and knew who all the good players were but understanding the entire draft as you see it now and all the information and the immediacy of information you had to buy the books.
I have the old Joel Buchsbaum books. I've got the second one, even the paper copy of his first book that was really just a pile of papers. Joel was a guy I became fascinated by and actually later became friends with."
Shortly after being hired in KC, Pioli and his staff headed to the NFL Combines to further their evaluations.
SP: "First off let me say that the name "war room" makes my skin crawl. It's funny because the book Michael Holly wrote was called " War Room". The only disagreement that Michael and I got into about that book was when he made the reference "war room". I told him that he would never hear me call it that because people die in wars, we are playing football. I find the phrase disrespectful so its funny when I got to the Patriots and when I got to Kansas City both signs in both places said War Room and I had them taken down. It's a Draft Room."
WP: For most people who have never been in a Draft Room, what was it like in the early days when you were just starting out in this business.
SP: "But it wasn't just that day it was the days leading up to the draft---the process. I'm a big process guy. I think that anything you are getting an end result out of, if you don't enjoy or really embrace the process then you are never going to learn for the future. So it was the whole process of the meetings, the amount of work, the amount of hours, the amount of useful hours and also watching the amount of wasted hours, the wasted work, the wasted energy on things, then just taking it all in.
But then the first draft day it was pretty amazing. It was watching how different people responded to different stimuli. There are so many different things involved with the pressure of doing things right and doing it well. Knowing that millions of dollars of resources have been spent preparing for the draft and people sacrificing their lives. The amount of work the scouts put in to this and how it takes away from their families it's an amazing process - then to watch the end result.
At the end of the first draft, I remember looking around and it was just this feeling of exhaustion by everybody. Because you go from this high level of intensity to torn up sheets of paper, coffee cups and chewed cups. One of my memories was walking around at the end, cleaning up, and thinking wow that was 365 days of preparation and intensity and this is what's left? This included left over pizza that I took home."
On Wednesday in Part-Two of our exclusive one-on-one interview with Scott Pioli, he discusses his executive climb in the NFL, what he learned from his time in New England plus his draft philosophy for the Chiefs.
This article appears courtesy of Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine.
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