How desperate are you to be a winner?
The range of sports fan philosophies can range anywhere between "It doesn't matter if you go 16-0, if you don't win the Super Bowl you are a failure" to "I don't really care if they win as long as the game is entertaining".
Right now Chiefs fans are seeing a huge transition in how the organization deals with its players and fans.
The previous regime under Carl Peterson, who combined the football operations with marketing and sales, spent a lot of time trying to make the team attractive to the fans, even if that didn't always lead to the ultimate success on the field.
The "Arrowhead Experience" as we know it today was cultivated and promoted during that time. The players were held up as idols to the fans to the point that many went to the games just to watch Derrick Thomas, Tony Gonzalez and Priest Holmes, and if the Chiefs won, well that was a bonus. Players that had been loyal to the organization were rewarded, often to the detriment of the team as a whole, but this too was part of the entertainment value to the fans. Fans don't like to see their favorite players mistreated. It was required by the organization that the players must give back to the community and you could see the evidence of their charity hanging on banners from the walls of the stadium.
No matter how many people expressed their dislike for Petersons way of business and the lack of playoff victories in recent years, Arrowhead was always full of people enjoying their Sundays watching their favorite players, even when the results were mediocre.
The new regime under Scott Pioli, however, is shaping up to be very very different.
Pioli learned the "Patriot Way" under Bill Belichick who, despite being one of the most brilliant coaches in NFL history, is also an undeniably ruthless, iron fisted tyrant who is infamous for his secrecy and combative relationship with the media.
Bellichicks success has made it possible for him to get away with being an anti-social curmudgeon. Fans love to see their team win and will put up with behavior that they otherwise wouldn't. The excitement of seeing the best team in football on Sunday goes a long ways to making up for the drudgery of Monday through Saturday of boring, information-less press conferences and a cloak of secrecy draped over every move the team makes.
Seeing fan favorite players that have been loyal to the Patriots organization like Vrabel and Seymour exiled to teams like the Chiefs and Raiders that are scraping the NFL gutter would outrage most Chiefs fans. Look at the uproar over the Jared Allen trade. Yet there is a consistent theme you hear repeated over and over from hardcore Patriots fans no matter what move is made. "In Bill We Trust."
No matter how heartbroken they are to see their favorite players cut or shuttled off for impersonal future draft picks or to find out their team has been cheating by videotaping the other teams sidelines; they have been conditioned to accept whatever it takes in order to win, no matter what.
That is the type of attitude Pioli is bringing to Kansas City. Draping the front office in a veil of secrecy, one of his early moves was to trade future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez away for a 2nd round pick two drafts down the road. No nonsense is accepted. Anything not directly having to do with fashioning the team into a winner will not be accepted. The charity banners are gone. If you believe the reports, former Chiefs players who had always been treated as family are being treated as threatening strangers.
The Patriot Way is in full effect in Kansas City. The unanswered question of course, is whether the tactic will be successful without its most important ingredient: Bill Belichick.
But for a moment, let us assume that everything Pioli is planned will have success.
Assume that a few years from now the Chiefs are a shoe-in to the playoffs and have been to the Super Bowl multiple times.
Assume that Pioli will run the Chiefs the same way Belichick runs the Patriots. By this time stocked with talent, we will see favorite players who have hit their peak and are beginning to see the downhill of their career cold-bloodedly cut or traded away for future picks that may or may not turn out to be as good. We will be used to seeing players who break ranks and speak out of turn ruthlessly slapped down and we as fans will be locked out of the inner workings of the team. Former players are kept at a distance instead of continuing to be a part of the organization. Once they have outlived their usefulness on Sundays, they are given a thank you and discarded. Anything that does not directly lead to victory on Sunday is a mere side note.
The question is, are we so desperate for victory that we are ready to go that hardcore to win? Are we willing to be held at a distance and accept unpopular moves if it means we are consistently one of the best teams in the league? Are you willing to give up hero worship of players if it is in the best interest of the team?