Kansas City is a football town. For anyone who’s ever spent any time in the area they will most likely share this same sentiment. The Kansas City Chiefs are the focal point of professional sports for the city and that makes for a pretty intelligent fan base that follows the team with a watchful eye. So when Scott Pioli was hired over from the New England Patriots as the new general manager of the Chiefs just a few years ago it was thought to be the start of a new era in Kansas City. The team hadn’t seen much success in the last several years of Carl Peterson’s tenure and the fans had grown a little tired of the losing.
Jump ahead a few years in the Scott Pioli era and once the Todd Haley experiment proved to not work out like most had hoped, Pioli sat at a crossroads with this team and organization and he knew that his next hire would probably be his most important if he, himself wanted to keep his own job. Pioli decides to turn the team over to a familiar face in Romeo Crennel. The man who had guided the Chiefs to a 2-1 record down the stretch last season as interim head coach, with the only loss being in overtime to the Oakland Raiders, and had it not been for a blocked field goal late in regulation of that game, Crennel could have finished 3-0 with an AFC West championship and a playoff game.
The decision by Scott Pioli to go with Romeo Crennel makes this story of Crennel’s first year more intriguing that just entertaining the question as to how Crennel would do in his first year at the big desk. He has to do well in order for Scott Pioli to feel vindicated in his decision to go with him. Especially with names like Jeff Fisher, former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer and Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, as options to replace Todd Haley. Crennel was considered the safe hire by most around the league. He was familiar with the players and most importantly, he was familiar with Pioli.
Another aspect that makes this an intriguing story is that there was overwhelming support from the Chiefs players once Crennel was named head coach. It was obviously a popular decision in the locker room and it will be very interesting to see how that plays out over training camp and into the start of the season. Is it a good thing that the players are excited that he’s the coach? I believe it can be if he’s liked AND respected as a head coach, and not just a coordinator. It’s a different animal to be "the man" and have to be the one that everyone answers to. The bottom line is that it still comes down to wins and losses and that’s how the team and Crennel will be judged.
Crennel got what he wanted in the chance to be the head coach and the players got what they wanted in Crennel as well. Now the fans get to sit back and watch if two of the most important sports figures in Kansas City right now add positive or negative chapters to their legacy next season as the Chiefs try and bounce back from a 7-9 season.
Make sure to check back every day for the next story in the series. Coming up tomorrow: Missouri's move to the SEC.