….the other night about our 2011 Kansas City Chiefs. I was in a large room, just me and Coach Haley (actually I was quite invisible, just a prop).
I was sitting next to this large box full of maybe 80-100 pairs of shoes, I was pairing them up one pair at a time and handing them to the coach. Believe me, this dream really happened.
He took each pair and very thoughtfully placed them on one of either three shelves and after a while it became apparent to me what he was doing. Obviously, one shelf was for the guys that will without much doubt make this team, the second shelf was for the borderline players and the third was for those that probably will not make it.
Here’s where it all became very surreal and emotional.
Coach never looked directly at me in my dream, he just kept reaching down for the next pair but from what I could see of his face, he was as emotional and serious as I’ve ever seen him. In my mind, this was all happening after the story about Pope saving that boy in the swimming pool and then the article on Gretz entitled “Watching A Lockout Practice” about the team practices that Cassel had organized, especially that picture where the offense was lined up against the D and we saw Pope as the right offensive end, then O’Callaghan at RT, ? at RG, Casey at center and so on.
I guess what struck me was that here are these guys that on their own time are there in KC, bonding, most are good friends, hoping, wanting to make this team and we all know that several will not. I know that money is such a huge part of this game but in those pictures, those eyes, are guys that would probably still play this game……. For a lot less, or “just for the love of it.”
And yet, someone (Coach Haley) was going to have to make the tough decision and cut them.
Now back to the dream………… Every once in a while Coach would stop and look at a certain pair of those shoes and toss them into another pile on the floor. Then I’d see him move his head from side to side, just a little, and then again reach into that third shelf and get another pair, just stand there holding those shoes in his hands, staring at them. He had his back to me but it was very obvious that he was in very deep thought, and then he’d also toss that other pair to the floor too. Then it just kind of happened, this tough, loud, sometimes obnoxious but very caring, emotional man, inadvertently reached up and wiped at his eye, he turned just a little and I’d swear, I saw moisture in those eyes. He was having trouble deciding who to cut. Those shoes on the floor represented players that he was close to, players that have contributed but also players that probably just would not make it.
I guess this is how I see our Coach, this team, most of our players, our Owner and our General Manager. This entire organization has been building like a family and we all are getting the chance to see it come together as the “right 53.”
Several times, Coach Haley has been quoted regarding Leonard Pope, something to the effect that “No one cares more about this team, than Leonard” Well, I think that is what is becoming so very true throughout this entire organization and that is what they mean by the “right 53.” And, I have no doubt that no one cares more about this team, about each and every player, than Coach Haley.