Slightly elevated hear beat, a rush of excitement, the inability to read the words fast enough - all things I experience when I see the most recent news flash on the Chiefs and their supposed interest in Peyton Manning. Let's face it - one of the greatest QB's to ever play the game is looking to finish out his career somewhere and the Chiefs can use a QB - sounds familiar? Hell, it was Joe Montana to the Chiefs that made me a Chiefs fan. I was 12 years old and living in Los Angeles. 19 years later, I could really use a good playoff run. Which bring me back to where I started - I REALLY want Manning to come to KC. But I've got this sinking feeling and it comes back to the guy whose name rhymes with Chioli.
What do we know? We know Pioli like Cassel. He paid a pretty penny for him and has given him more than enough slack over the years. Yes, Pioli knows he doesn't have much leeway after the Todd Haley firing, but all signs point to Pioli really believing Cassel can step up and be our guy. So why all the interest in Manning? At first I thought Pioli was pulling the old CYA. Go all in on Manning, and if it doesn't work out then you really can't be blamed. It was Peyton Manning for pete's sake. But Pioli has never operated in the limelight and through the media. Why now?
My take: The NFL has become one of the most efficient organizations in understanding and using to its advantage the age of new media. I'd argue that few other organizations, corporate, government, etc, are as AHEAD of the media curve as the NFL is. Whether you like his approach or not, you have to recognize that Pioli is one of those that understands this. He has used the media in the past to our advantage. Whether its the weekly injury report or trade rumors, the Chiefs don't seem to find themselves in embarrassing situations (absent the Haley firing fiasco).
So what's the goal here? I see it as three-fold. First, Pioli and Hunt are placating the fans. They have publicly done their due diligence on Manning. We can't say they didn't try. The second and third were covered by the PFT post: if Manning end up in the AFC West (see Denver), you better believe Denver will pay dearly for the right to call Manning their QB. And finally, Cassel is on notice - there has been constant talk about bringing in competition - so Cassel better get his act in gear.
I hope I'm wrong. I personally hope Manning signs with KC. I'll be one of the first to buy a #18 jersey. But I just can't help from thinking that this will be used as a case study in PR and Strategy in MBA schools across the nation.