This is what happens when you wrap your identity around a professional sports team run by managers who fail to lead and players whose actions – good and bad – end up reflecting the values of the city they represent. They can embarrass you. As much as you love the Chiefs, its hard to justify what happened Monday night. Sure, they played better than they have all year and actually had a chance – a great chance – to win a game against the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers. But then they danced.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can see it here: http://fox4kc.com/2012/11/13/just-dance-chiefs-lose-but-prove-they-can-bust-a-move/
They danced several times, but after the defensive touchdown that ended up being called back, they were penalized for group celebration, giving Pittsburgh a first down instead of forcing them to punt. I know a lot of people are saying, what’s the big deal? They’re a bunch of young guys, celebrating a great play, and even though it ended up not being what they thought it was, just let them dance! It’s the NFL! It’s a show! Lighten up!
The problem isn’t so much the dancing as much as what it represents.
Celebrating a great play is a reward. High five a teammate. Jump up and bump chests. Heck, spike the ball if you want to. But a coordinated group dance with the entire defense? It shows a lack of respect for the game – and their coaches.
This dancing situation demonstrates the lack of leadership within the Chief’s organization. You think they would’ve done this with Todd Haley as head coach? Dick Vermeil? Gunther? Marty? Heck no! They had control of their team. The players knew what was expected of them, and they knew that organizing a line dance after a score would earn them a reprimand. Extra wind sprints after practice. A spot on the bench. The players dancing together shows me the coaches are not holding them accountable for their actions on the field. Missed a tackle? Oh well, try harder next time. Dropped a pass? Oh well, let’s take some extra passes in practice. Players can sense when they are not being led, and led to their own devices, they do what they want to do. Why not?
My experiences playing four years at Northwestern give me an inner knowledge of what is acceptable and not acceptable on a football team. Sure, it’s not the NFL, but the facets of teamwork are all the same. My first two years, we were losing – a lot. Players did their own thing. They didn’t care. One receiver was suspended for fighting a Michigan State player IN THE STANDS after the game. One lineman was suspended for fighting an Iowa player in the middle of the game. Two players were convicted of gambling – betting against us to lose! They had been recruited by the prior coaches, who let them get away with it. The new coaches tried to get through to them and made sure they were punished harshly for their selfish actions. The younger players got it. We understood team came before individual showboating and we began to win. We won the Big Ten twice in a row and I’ll tell you, not once did we organize a team dance after a score. Not once did a player spike the ball or showboat. We had other things to focus on – like tackling, catching and scoring.
Then I hear Romeo Crennel say, “I do have a young team and I keep mentioning that all the time. Young guys do make young mistakes. We’re going to educate those guys about their actions, . . . and then we’re going to eliminate it.”
So it’s the players fault. They’re young and dumb. Come on! These guys are not dumb. They have played on football teams their whole lives and they follow their coaches lead. They KNOW they shouldn’t have done it and yet they did. It was a sign of a revolution, a revolt against the coaching staff. Frustration at their 1-8 record. They know they’re a better team then they are, they know they have the talent to win the AFC West, but I believe they feel their talent is being squandered by coaches who are not making the right calls or putting them in the position to win the game.
A professional who expects professional conduct from their employees whenever they represent the company will rarely step out of line. And if they do, it’s usually one person, not everyone. It is a symptom of a much larger problem. The Chiefs needs a leader to step in and raise the expectations of these players, of this team. Until then, they will continue to struggle to come together – and struggle to win.