Scott Pioli went on a “media blitz” tour this week where he spoke with radio stations, television stations and other writers. This was extremely unusual for him to do, and it comes in the wake of the public fire being turned up on him.
Jason Whitlock had Kent Babb on his podcast today, two former Kansas City columnists who both had dealings with Pioli, and they provided some interesting nuggets.
Whitlock, of course, took to calling Scott Pioli by the name “Scott Egoli” before he left Kansas City officially to join Fox Sports. Some of this stems from an incident when Pioli yelled at reporters, including Whitlock, in an initial dinner session after coming to town at local restaurant Garozzo’s.
Babb attributes the fire he’s now facing not only to the on the field performance of the team, but also Pioli’s style since arriving in Kansas City.
“That’s the wild card here, it’s not just that he’s been a bad general manager, it’s that he’s been a jerk to a lot of people. The people that he’s fired and had security escort out of the building, or laid off, and had security escort them out. That’s embarrassing, what’s the purpose of that?”
“It’s because he’s a jerk and he’s not good at his job.”
Babb, you might recall, wrote the “Arrowhead Anxiety” story detailing the environment at Arrowhead last winter, including Todd Haley’s paranoia that his phones were bugged. He also talked about how his style is just not conducive to success, and compared it to visiting the Giants this week. According to Babb, Pioli obsesses about things like the temperature in the weight room, and radio station.
“He’s just too insecure. He can’t not read stuff. He can’t not listen to the radio. He has PR guys listening to every second of every sports radio broadcast in Kansas City, and that’s part of their job, they have to have the radio on all day, listening for things Pioli wants to hear. What in the world, I mean, what’s the purpose of that?”
Let’s just say that my personal experience suggests that this is not completely crazy by Babb. I’ve never interacted with Pioli, but I did try to contact several people in the Chiefs organization to set up a visit to training camp, like we did here with Denver and Andy Glockner, and like Jason McIntyre did with the Jets. E-mails were unreturned as were messages to phones. It’s possible, I suppose, that several different people independently failed to say anything (even if it was no), though I would think it unlikely. Perhaps my appearance on local radio right before the draft begging them not to take Dontari Poe, or this column may have caused me to get noticed, even though our fearless editor in chief writes numerous screeds about the Jets and he had no problem attending camp.
Regardless of any of this, winning cures everything. In the NFL, losing has the opposite effect. Every week is overreaction week after a loss. The Chiefs haven’t had a lead in regulation yet this year, so you can just compound that ten fold. Some of the backlash, though, goes deeper. Fans have started a twitter account to Save Our Chiefs that already has over 77,000 followers–roughly the capacity of Arrowhead.
Pioli has been in the position *only* four years, so if he had maintained good media relations, he might be getting a bit more of the benefit of the doubt. As it is, he has tied himself repeatedly to Matt Cassel with a trade and large contract. As Babb notes, Cassel’s backups have been Brodie Croyle, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Palko, and Brady Quinn, so when Pioli says he doesn’t dictate the starter, that may be true only in the technical sense that he provides no real alternative.
Only one man has a vote, though, and that’s Clark Hunt. His dad was notoriously loyal and hands off, and he’s paid Pioli a large amount to run the organization. Does he want Pioli making the call on the next quarterback, and another rebuild? That’s the only answer that will decide whether Pioli continues in Kansas City.
[photo via US Presswire]