Charlie Riedel - AP
For weeks we’ve been wringing our hands over the status of Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters. It’s been our prime-time offseason drama for awhile, mostly because the Chiefs didn’t sign any big-name free agents. But is it possible it’s really not that big of a deal?
Last week Michael Ash pondered the future of Gonzalez, Johnson and Waters (GJW), earmarking Monday as the day when we might glean some answers on their future. Unfortunately Monday came and went, and Todd Haley said practically nothing where any of those three players are concerned.
What we learned is that, at least to Haley, all the ruckus over the drama created by GJW might be much ado about nothing. Monday, Haley was asked a question about one member of GJW, and his response didn’t even include that player’s name. In fact, Haley didn’t even address the situation. He treated it as a non-issue.
Even more remarkable was that Haley did not mention a single player by name throughout the entire press conference. The word “he” did not pass his lips. The word “we” did, however - 29 times.
Could the message be any clearer?
Haley referred only to his players as a group, and commended them as a group, the group of over 60 that showed up to work out at Arrowhead Stadium Monday. It was the first building block for the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs, and it was far more important than any individual drama created by GJW.
By diminishing the importance of GJW, Haley sent a message to the other, less dramatic members of his new team – football is first. Issues with the law, trade requests and general moaning and groaning come second (or perhaps even lower down the totem pole), and likely won’t be talked about publicly. It’s not good for business.
Is it coincidence that mere weeks after public statements from GJW on the radio, via the internet and through the newspaper, Monday was silent? Maybe they've all come to realize how business is conducted at Arrowhead under the new regime. To his credit, "J" was at Arrowhead, presumably taking part in team building with the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs. Actions speak louder than words, especially in March, when those actions aren’t public.
And while “J’s” agent leaked word Tuesday of his client’s new found enthusiasm for wearing an Arrowhead on the side of his helmet, it would have been rather meaningless had it come without an appearance in the weight room on Monday. Under Haley, it appears actions not only speak louder than words, they come first. Like football.
Maybe you’re a little upset with Haley for not giving GJW their due at the most important press conference since he was hired. Maybe you were sitting on the edge of your seat, anticipating a presidential-like address concerning the grave situation created by GJW and how the Chiefs would delicately handle it. But to Haley, GJW may not be all that important in the grand scheme of team-building.
We’re used to treating GJW like Kansas City’s Gods. There’s been no franchise quarterback to fawn over, no big-play wide receiver drawing attention on ESPN. The pass rusher with the excess of personality was shipped off in short order. We had to find substitutes.
In the land of the blind, those who finish one-and-done in the playoffs can become Kings.
But Haley just got here. He doesn’t see Kings, just a 33-year old tight end, a 32-year old guard, and a soon-to-be-30-year old running back. Haley knows championship teams aren’t built around aging positions of secondary importance. He’s fresh off a Super Bowl appearance in which he coached Leonard Pope at tight end, Reggie Wells at left guard, and Edgerrin James at running back.
Newsflash: The Cardinals did not reach the Super Bowl because of Pope, Wells and James. Given that fact, it’s best to deflate any drama GJW creates in Kansas City, even if fans and media are dying to find out what’s going on. It’s just not important enough, especially when, according to our source, two members of GJW weren't even present at Arrowhead Monday.
So maybe the start of offseason workouts didn’t bring all the answers we wanted. But the answer Haley gave us was loud and clear. Over 60 players were pumping iron at Arrowhead Stadium, and no one was more important than anyone else.