KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02: Minnesota Vikings fans display their frustration before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 2, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Remember a couple of weeks ago when the Chiefs wore T-Shirts that said, "We Don't Hear The Hate"? They did this during the week before the Minnesota game. Why do you suppose they chose that phrase? It indicates to me that there was a lot of perceived (by the team) Hate Speech out there flying around because they were struggling. Todd Haley took the negative energy of that Hate Speech and found a way to use it to motivate his team. Basically, their collective (and silent by the way) message to the world outside of that team was that they were ignoring it. They were not going to let it in, because they did not believe it.
Actually, it was a play on one of Bill Parcells 11 Quarterback Commandments. In reality, it is number one on the hit list.
1. Ignore other opinions – Press or TV, agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers on – ignore them on matters of football, they don’t know what’s happening here. --Bill Parcells
Notice the word FAN in that phrase? Whether or not you like Bill Parcells, this statement is profound. Parcells knew that inherent in the team building process are times when the team would struggle. Struggle to field a decent product, struggle to call the right play, struggle to make good game day decisions on the coaching staff, struggle, struggle, struggle!! Why did they struggle? Millions of reasons. The point here is that when they do struggle, they upset their fan bases. Fans get really pissed because they go to all the time and trouble (not to mention spending their hard earned moolah) of supporting a team, only to have that team lose and make those fans look stupid for supporting them in the first place. The critical mass of this truth held so much sway in Parcells mind that he knew it it had to be addressed in a way that would eliminate as much impact on his teams as possible. Thus, it became his number one Commandment. Just don't listen to the hate.
Hate is a deceptive word. It is often used as a synonym for 'don't like'. How many times have you heard someone say, "I hate my ______", and not really mean it? Hate is defined as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury. How many times have you heard someone say they 'hate' their mother-in-law? How often does it simply mean dislike dealing with their mother-in-law instead of truly hating her (don't go there guys :).
What I am getting at is that the word hate and the term hater is thrown around pretty freely here on AP. Just like the word defender or apologist. Belief and Realism. Optimism and Pessimism. All these terms get thrown out there frequently, but quite often the signal sent is much different from that received. We all have slightly different perceptions of what the meaning is when these and other terms are used. Some are good and some are bad. The difference between one fans perception of these terms and another fans perception of the same terms is the margin where misunderstanding lives and conflict is born. My intent is to clear up some of those misunderstandings, if possible, so that we can (hopefully) focus more on the Chiefs and less on each other.
How many of you reading this would say that you hate the Chiefs? I would be surprised if anybody answered that in the affirmative. Yet, as I pointed out above, Haley and the team went to the trouble to print t-shirts that stated that they didn't hear the hate. I guess that their perception of the things being said about the team early in the season equated with hate. I would bet that fans' galore take exception to being called (indirectly anyway) a hater by their own team. As well they should. Taking exception to poor play does not make one a hater any more than supporting players who are playing poorly. It is normal for fans to express their disgruntlement with their team when they are losing, yet that expression was wrongly (in many cases) labeled as hate by the team. The angst was incorrectly perceived as hate.
What caused the misperception? It may have something to do with the extreme nature of some of that angst. Suck for luck is telling a team to purposely lose in order to gain a new player that has never played a down in the NFL. I don't think the team nor some of the fan base agreed with this extreme viewpoint. It kind of put a bull horn in the hands of the fan base discontentment and there was no missing that message. Coming out and saying that a player sucks and not telling why or making some kind of ridiculous claim as a sarcastic joke that doesn't go over well are other ways that discontent becomes equated with hate. As fans we need to do a better job of expressing precisely what it is that we don't like and making sure that others know we are being sarcastic or joking. This -- :) -- is a good way of doing that. There are others and we should all try to take the time to be clearly understood in our messages particularly when they are pointed at another commentor.
This year has been unique. We had a lockout, a shortened off season, a crappy product during preseason (that was actually by design, we have been told) and on the field for the first two regular season games, at least, that puts one in mind of the 2007 Chiefs that won a mere 2 games. Combine that with getting creamed by the Ravens in a playoff game last season and letting the hated (Question: Do we really hate the Raiders or do we just dislike the Raiders? :) ) Raiders beat us the week before that to end last regular season, and you begin to understand the pent up anger that so many of the Chiefs faithful have felt this year. If you listened closely after the Lions loss you could almost hear the collective sigh of "Here we go again".
The rough patch we have gone through has caused every fan to look for a place to assign the blame because every fan knows that there has to be a reason. That is what caused the birth of the Suck4Luck group, the fire Haley and Pioli chant and the 'let's see how good Stanzi is' comments that we have all seen over and over and over again since before the season really began. It has been my opinion (which is no better or worse than anyone else's here) that it really has been the circumstances surrounding this season (including the loss of Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles) that have caused most of this teams problems, rather than all of our worst fears coming true. As far as it goes, Todd Haley has mentioned that the players were trying to do too much and not trusting in their teammates to do their job. After losing those names off the roster, can you blame them?
When I read comments about how Matt Cassel sucks, or Todd Haley needs to tone it down (unless we are talking about his [ahem] somewhat effeminate choice in hooded sweat attire), or Bill Muir can't call plays etc., it seems short sighted to me given the circumstances of the change in mechanics that this team has had to endure this season. Actually, each season since Haley's arrival has seen some pretty heavy change in coaching, personnel, schemes etc. How different are two seasons who saw the gain and loss of three primary players in the overall scheme of how it wanted to play footabll? It certainly cannot be considered a completed work of art at this point. Some will say that this is an excuse. To me, it is just the reality of the daily grind that this team has had to go through this season.
Haley said himself that he thought that the teams that had the most veteran players and coaches would have the easiest time adapting to this season because of the shortened off season. He puts the Chiefs somewhere in the middle of the pack concerning this theory and he is probably about right. Can you imagine how hard it has been for teams with incoming head coaches to try and get on the same page? Hello Denver Broncos. It's Tebow time!!
Since I felt as though some comments were short sighted, I admit that I have sometimes gone out of my way to point it out when those comments didn't hold up. If I have offended anyone in the process, please accept my apology for that now. I do not want to seem as though I hate anyone. At the same time, please do not expect me to not defend the players and coaches on my favorite team when my faith (and others) in them is rewarded. Many posters here have had very nice things to say about Matt's recent game against the Colts and it was very nice to see. I thank everyone who has made those comments for giving Matt his props. Don't worry, if he stumbles and falls next week, I know ya'll will be giving him hell again -- depending on what he does he may well deserve it.
It seems to me that the last three weeks we have seen improvement from our team. We have also seen an alarming trend on the defense. What appeared to be really running well for two weeks took a step back against the Colts. Barry Richardson looked a bit lost on a few plays and allowed some pressures on Cassel that should not have happened. Others have also seemed to backslide a bit on that defensive performance, yet they still held Curtis Painter and the Colts scoreless in the second half. How can you be overly critical of that? It was a team win and they should be (and has been) congratulated for it.
I can still feel the uncertainty in the air however, in going up against the Raiders. All we can do is wait and watch.
Since no one here admitted to being a hater, maybe the Chiefs should realize that what they heard wasn't hate. It was a case of collective despair that was caused by circumstance beyond their control. As with any attitude though, it can change and I am beginning to feel it around the edges. The Colts game may have been pivotal in that change. A few fans are cautiously looking forward again. That wasn't the case at any time this season except for the opening kick off. Now, this team has really had some time to work out the kinks and figure out how they should play on Sundays. The bye week may have actually hit at the perfect time this season. The coaching staff has a couple extra days to discuss how to best proceed with the personnel that we have. It's a good thing because they almost waited too long to make a difference. Good things can still happen, but the window for mistakes is closing fast.
It appears that turning Matt Cassel loose in the passing game is a necessary evil (are you listening Coach Haley?) for this offense to be able to outscore it's opponents. The combination of Dexter McCluster, LeRon McClain, Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle (as good as they are) is no substitute for a healthy Jamaal Charles. On the other hand, Dwayne Bowe is playing lights out, Steve Breaston has proven how badly he wants to show his wares and Keary Colbert is showing that he can be that third down, sure handed possession receiver that you were looking for. Oh, and Jon Baldwin? It's just about time that the supposed diva (if that is indeed his mindset) gets his opportunity to show if he can make it in the bigs.
Haley and the Chiefs were true to their word. They didn't hear the (perceived) hate, and they have battled back to show the fans how invested they are in playing winning football in Kansas City. While I will never stop defending 'my' guys, for my part I will take a lesson from Haley and the boys. I will try not to hear the hate, because, well, it really isn't hate after all.