The original Kool Aid Drinker's Manifesto was not written to brain wash the AP masses into thinking that everything in Chiefs Nation was "sunshine and rainbows". It was to express my belief that even when things are REALLY bad you can still find some positive things to hold on to for hope. It's not about ignoring the problems, it's about excepting them but choosing not to let them make you miserable. My stance has always been that when you are as big of fan of a team, like most of us our with the Chiefs, you're going to drive yourself crazy if you only focus on the bad. So I want to leave you with a look back at some of the things that gave me hope one year ago and why that hope is only magnified now.
First, let's look at a few of the Pioli quotes I used a year ago. An interview with Sirius NFL Radio in August of 2009 gave us this quote:
"You prepare for the job and part of what you do in the preparation for a general manager job is you look at the roster, the coaching staff, and all of the football aspects. Deep down inside you know there are things that affect the football operation but you can’t see or touch until you’re immersed in the situation. No matter how prepared you are for any job in life, I’mconvinced you can be as prepared as you want to be and there are things that are unknown that you have to deal with that impact the job. And that’s the case here. It’s not just rebuilding the roster. It’s changing the culture of a lot of things of the football operation itself and things that affect the football operation."
It's that "changing the culture" idea that gave me hope. He wasn't just looking at coaching, the roster, the draft, etc. He came in with the scope and vision to want to change the entire organization. The website is new, the stadium is new, the list goes on and on. I believe Pioli is as responsible for the change we have seen in the last year as any coach or player on our team and all those who stuck with the "In Pioli We Trust" mantra seem to be justified.
Now two more Pioli quotes on what kind of players he wanted on our team.
This is from an interview with 610 Radio:
"One of the biggest things we’ve gotta find from an evaluation standpoint, can these players do what they’ve been taught to do? And we want to find out who’s willing to do what they’re being told to do and also just execute and be smart football players………….If someone doesn’t know what they’re doing they won’t be given an opportunity and they can’t complain about not getting an opportunity."
And this from an interview with WFAN out of New York via kcchiefsblog:
"Everyone talks about Parcells guys. Who were the Parcells guys? The Parcells guys were the ones that fit who he was and could fit into his style of coaching. Same thing with Belichick. Part of Bill’s brilliance is having guys that can be motivated by the way that he led. To me it’s an important part of the team building and winning. Anyone can go out and find good players. You have to go out and find good players that can respond to the leadership. I might be the general manager here, but as soon as I hired the head coach my job is to serve the head coach and bring him the players he can be successful with. That’sthe job, finding the right guys with the right fit."
I think that's a big part of why we are seeing better results. This year's team is made up of mostly "Haley guys". It may not be 100%, but last year I'm not convinced everyone was ready to trust Haley. Now it looks like guys have bought in and are "willing to do what they're being told to do and also just execute and be smart football players". I think that as time goes by Pioli will only continue to fill the roster with not just talent, but talent that fits the "Chiefs Way".
Finally, I want to look back at one Haley quote from my original post. This is from a press conference on August 11th of 2009:
"I am always pushing and prying, trying to instigate a little bit and get some emotion out of guys and get some passion out of guys. That is the way I have done it. There are a lot of different ways but that is what I have done more than anything, just try and press them every day and not give them a whole lot of time to breath. Usually in the end you have a decent group that plays, works hard and is mentally tough."
We may not be at the top of the league in talent yet, but if Todd Haley came in with the goal of having "a decent group that plays, works hard and is mentally tough" I'd say he's done a pretty good job so far. I say that this team's hard work and mental toughness has more to do with our winning record then the talent level of our roster. If we can keep those qualities intact as we add more talent to the roster there will be Lombardi Trophies in our future some day, I honestly believe that.
I want to say thanks to AP one more time and especially to Joel and Chris for making this place what it is. Also a special thanks to all of you that both supported my posts and challenged my thinking (I'm looking at you Ups!). If there is anyone reading this that hasn't tried writing their own post yet and is bummed that I won't be crusading for optimism here at AP anymore, I challenge you to take up the fight yourself. After all, a little over a year ago, I had never done it before and now I'm excepting a position as a writer. I owe that to AP.
I'll leave you with one last quote. This one is my own. The Love was my first post to make the rec list. Here's a quote:
I was impressed with this place from the get go. As I've become more of a regular I've come to realize something. This place isn't normal. Chiefs fans aren't normal. Now if you've been around this place very long I'm not telling you anything you don't know. We've lost 28 out of the last 30 games and this place is still packed with passionate fans that support their team. We have our differences. Some our optimists, some quite the opposite. But even those that are labeled "negative" are still here everyday because they love this team so much.As the season has gone by I have visited more and more SB sites from other teams. Now don't get me wrong, there are some good sites and good fans for a lot of teams, but I gotta say, this place is special. Maybe I'm just a total homer, but I just see a different level of passion and dedication here at AP.
Some of you may not have agreed with much that I wrote in my Kool Aid posts, but even you have to admit that I got that right. Now you haven't completely gotten rid of me, I'll still be around from time to time and you are certainly welcome to come heckle me at AA (come on I had to get one plug in). Thanks again AP,
PORKCHOP OUT (Go ahead and poke fun Shuffle and Craig, I'll miss you guys too)