Are NFL Teams Playing for Results or Fans?

Let's create an ideal world for a minute - one where ticket prices never go up, parking is never an issue and even the vendors are hot. Then in this world, let's pretend that we could ask such a question of Chiefs owner Clark Hunt along the lines of: In whose best interest should the Chiefs on-field product be geared toward?

I only ask because the recent NFL weekend in question brought a few of these things to light and it's interesting to hear the take from media, team personnel and fans alike. Take the recent Colts debacle, rolling over for the New York Jets after having the lead and a competitive game in front of a sellout crowd probably dropping an average of $100 per person for the experience after parking, concession, tix, memorabilia et al. Who is correct in this instance? I can tell you this - the fans were booing Curtis Painter (poor rookie back-up) needlessly, but that's because the powers-that-be wouldn't give them exactly what they paid such hard-earned money to see.

I'm not talking strategy here, although from a strategy perspective, after listening to Jim Caldwell's press conference, I can buy it. Rest your starters. That makes sense. This isn't even about the chance to go for greatness - the immortal, undefeated season. Instead, it's a simple question posed to everyone and no one in particular: who should be served by the on-field product?

I ask because the answer to that question affects even the Chiefs. If your answer is the team's ability to win the Super Bowl, then fans must be willing to roll with whatever punches they see on field and trust that ownership and the front office are doing what they know to do best and getting the team ready to win it all somewhere down the right - either sooner or later. On the flip side, if the answer is the fans, then you have to open yourself up to thinking that way instead as a front office and team leader.

Let's take this "Todd Haley flipping off the fan" headline that's been circulating around. The team's response to this has everything to do with how you frame and answer the initial question. If all things Chiefs has to do with winning on the field and you believe Haley is your guy, then you ask him to maybe apologize (or deny it) and move on from there. If it's about the fans, the approach should be quite different. Not that flipping someone off should force someone out of their position (I'd never drive again, by the way), but you get my point.

You can also make the same argument when it came to trading fan favorite Tony Gonzalez. Some here argued that they were losing their favorite player - the fan response. Others argued that if Pioli wants to do it, that's what he was hired for - the team response. You see what I mean.

So it's an interesting idea with both local and national football news asking this same question: who should teams be looking out for? Colts coach Jim Caldwell is playing the "resting to win" card and it worked for one Super Bowl this decade for the league's winningest regular season team. Some consider that a failure. I'd love to have one Super Bowl in hand that recently (and such a winning program personally). Either way, it's an interesting debate.

The question is, then: what do you think?

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