Here’s what Clark Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, does not understand about his general manager, Scott Pioli: His massive ego is born of insecurity and most effectively used as a shield for his deceit.
Pioli is a swindler. Pride and vanity will not push Pioli into forfeiting the millions of dollars he apparently suckered Hunt into promising him in the form of a contract extension. Pioli can’t be shamed. Con men think little of themselves and care even less what others think of them.
The unprecedented events that transpired inside Arrowhead Stadium on Monday likely had little impact on Hunt’s intended target — Scott Pioli.
Hunt fired Pioli’s overmatched, handpicked coach Romeo Crennel and then — with a devastating written statement, an online video posted on the Chiefs website and several print and radio interviews — Hunt publicly announced he was stripping Pioli of virtually all his power.
“I will hire the next coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and he will report directly to me,” Hunt told members of the Kansas City media. “It gives us the best chance of hiring the most outstanding coach.”
There it is. In terms of power, Pioli has been reduced to his former size. He’s back in the role he played for Bill Belichick in New England: behind-the-scenes puppet. Pioli will not leave. No other organization will elevate him to the perch he enjoyed for four years in Kansas City. And certainly no other organization will make him one of the highest-paid executives in the NFL.
The jig is up. Pioli bamboozled Hunt and the NFL media, including yours truly, into believing he was the Belichick of executives. He milked his hustle into a magnificent payday.
Hunt would love nothing more than to shame Pioli into begging his father-in-law, Dollar Bill Parcells, to find him another job. That’s the only reasonable explanation for pulling Pioli’s pants down in such a public fashion. Pioli’s status for next season is yet to be determined. Hunt said in an interview with KC Star beat writer Adam Teicher that Pioli’s fate might not be decided until early February.
Pioli is a laughingstock — except on payday. The problem for Hunt is Parcells taught Pioli that “you are what your pay stub says you are.”
Pioli ain’t going over any fiscal cliff. He’s not leaving KC without his money.
Hunt should give it to him and be done. The best chance of hiring the most outstanding coach comes with Pioli in a different zip code. Why would any highly qualified coach want to participate in the Chiefs' dysfunction? Why would any highly qualified coach want Pioli leading and/or participating in draft and free-agent preparations?
Admitting a mistake is clearly the most difficult task in American culture. Too many Americans view admitting a mistake as a sign of weakness. It is not. It’s a sign of strength, a sign of maturity and confidence.
Clark Hunt and Pioli’s groupies in the media need to acknowledge they were wrong about Pioli. I jumped ship four or five months into his Kansas City reign. The contract he gave Matt Cassel was ridiculous given his highly suspicious resume. The way he treated Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters upon introduction was grade-school bully-ish. And Pioli’s insecurity-fueled ego reared its head in a major way during a get-to-know-you dinner with selected members of the print media.
I don’t mind being wrong. I was wrong about Pioli. In the six months before landing the KC job, he charmed me much the same way I suspect he charmed other members of the media he thought could fan the flames of the Scott Pioli myth.
It’s clear he’s a fraud. His draft picks have been mostly disastrous. His four first-round picks — Tyson Jackson, Eric Berry, Jonathan Baldwin and Dontari Poe — are either busts or underachievers. Yep, I know Berry made the Pro Bowl. But if you’ve ever watched Berry play pass defense, you know he has no business in the Pro Bowl. Pioli whiffed on both coaches he chose. Todd Haley was an immature hothead. Romeo Crennel was Romeo Crennel, another Belichick myth. If Pioli has a successful free-agent or trade acquisition, I can’t name him. The Chiefs just completed the worst season in franchise history. They went eight weeks without leading a game. Pioli built the Titanic.
What value does Pioli bring a new coach?
Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden can hire their own flunkies.
It’s my belief that Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is the best NFL coaching candidate on the market. It’s remarkable what he’s done at Notre Dame. I don’t mean this as an insult, but I don’t see Kelly as a “molder of men.” The Declan Sullivan/scissor lift tragedy told me all I need to know about Kelly as a college coach. He’s a mercenary focused on one thing — winning games. Kelly is a guy who loves football. He’s meant to coach in the NFL. He reminds me of Jim Harbaugh. Kelly will tone down his sideline rants in the NFL.
But Scott Pioli can’t help Brian Kelly transition to the NFL. Pioli can’t help any college coach transition to the NFL. Retaining Pioli limits Hunt’s options at head coach.
Let Pioli walk with his money. Smart people get swindled from time to time. A bought lesson rarely goes unlearned. It’s the mistakes that go unpunished that we most often repeat.