Our First Controversy Over Michael Holley's New Book, "War Room"

KANSAS CITY MO - JANUARY 09: Head coach Todd Haley of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on during the 2011 AFC wild card playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9 2011 in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

As I've hinted around here recently, author Michael Holley has written a new book called "War Room" that is sort of a sequel to his best-seller "Patriot Reign", which is set for an early November release. The book follows New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli for a year and delves into their relationships and philosophies as the leading men in their respective organizations.

I've read every word of the book and it's an outstanding read. It hasn't been released yet but we already have some controversy coming out over one passage in particular. Holley was at the Chiefs playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens and wrote this about halftime of that game: 

From page 255 of the book:

"Pioli stands near the press-box elevators. His face is red, and he has so many thoughts about the missed opportunities in the first half that he doesn't have a complete sentence for what he just saw. Downstairs in the locker room, things are more verbal. Haley is upset that the Chiefs' Pro Bowl receiver, Dwayne Bowe, wasn't targeted more. He caught seventy-two balls in the regular season, fifteen of them for touchdowns, but he was completely shut out in the first half. Haley thinks some of it was on the Ravens' defense, some of it was Bowe, and some of it was squarely on Weis. But as much as he disagreed with some of the things Weis was calling, Haley knew that there couldn't be any in-game switching. On offense, at least, this was Weis's game to call."

I read every page of the book, including that passage, and I never interpreted any section of the book as GM Scott Pioli getting involved in the playcalling decision, or telling Haley that Weis has to call the plays. 

810 WHB's Kevin Kietzmann read this same section over the air yesterday, and came away with a totally different interpretation than I did.

Kietzmann says: "This is very important because you have to ask yourself: How in the world were the Chiefs in a playoff game last year against the Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium, with a lame duck offensive coordinator, that had usurrped the power of the head coach, and the head coach couldn't change anything at halftime."

Kietzmann suggests that it was Pioli who dictated to Haley that Weis call the plays the rest of the game, which is where the controversy lies. Here's what Kietzmann said:

"Really? Who's rules would that be [that Weis would call the plays]? There's only one person who could have those rules and that is Scott Pioli. That indicates to me -- again, I don't have confirmation, I didn't talk to Scott Pioli and he's not going to tell me -- but if you look at this, this isn't even reading between the lines. If you think about what happened, and we know Weis couldn't be jacked with on that day, that wouldn't be Haley's rule. Weis is a lame duck. He's an employee that's leaving. He's already said he's going to Florida.

"This is Scott Pioli meddling with the head coach, and a coordinator, saying this is how it's going to be. Weis gets the game plan, he calls the plays, that's that. That's that. 'Haley, you can't do anything about it.'

"If you're wondering if Todd Haley is going to make it through the season, I'm going to say emphatically no, based solely on that paragraph in this new book that came out. Scott Pioli talking to this author, and allowing him to write these things, is nothing good for the Kansas City Chiefs. It's impossible to find anything good about this."

And later, Kietzmann says: "The guy (Weis) had already quit, and Pioli went in and said, "Weis has got this one Haley. Don't mess with it."

That's Kietzmann's interpretation, but not the author's. Holley went on 610 Sports with Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler Wednesday morning and clarified that section of the book.

"That chapter has kind of been distorted and misunderstood," Holley said on 610. "Somebody sent me a tweet yesterday, a fan. I can't remember his handle on Twitter, but he has a picture of Todd Haley right there, so I think he's a big Todd Haley fan and Chiefs fan. I think he's a Chiefs and Orioles fan. [Editor's note: Holley is referring to the Twitter user @Chiefsandosfan.]

"[The person on Twitter] says, 'They're reading your book on the radio.' And I said, 'Who's reading the book?' And I guess it's your competition (810 WHB) was reading a galley copy of the book on the radio.

"He says, 'I can't believe Scott Pioli took playcalling power from Todd Haley. I said, 'Wait a minute, that's not in the book. What are you talking about?' A couple other people sent me tweets on that so I went back to where I thought they were talking about and, if you don't mind, I'd like to read that part to you."

Fescoe interjects: "So you're saying it was misrepresented yesterday?" 

Holley responds: "Misrepresented is being kind. I would call it a flat-out fabrication."

Holley then re-read on the air the same section I posted above, the same section Kietzmann read on 810 WHB yesterday, and continues.

"A few things here," Holley said after reading that section over the air. "I was in the press box for the first half of that playoff game. I saw Scott Pioli near the press box on his way to the bathroom and I'm asking him about the first half and his face is red because it's cold outside and because he's upset. He really couldn't articulate his frustration, so I said, 'See ya later, Scott.' I left.

"Later, I had an interview with Todd Haley. He's giving me the information about the locker room. Haley is upset with Weis, he's upset with the score and just the tenor of the game at that point. But Todd Haley, who I like very much by the way and was very helpful during this process, Todd Haley would not take away playcalling from Charlie Weis because that's good leadership. It's not because Scott Pioli is telling Haley that Charlie Weis has to call the plays."

Fescoe asks for a clarification: "So Scott Pioli never told Todd Haley that Charlie Weis had to call the plays and there's nothing he could do about it?"

Holley's response: "Absolutely not."

Maybe it's a matter of interpretation and Kietzmann just interpreted it in a way that Holley didn't intend but I saw it the same way Holley did. I never took from that section the idea that Pioli somehow forced Haley to stick with Weis as the playcaller. 

Early November for the book. Chiefs fans will absolutely love it.

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