Clearing Up Misconceptions On Kyle Orton And The Chiefs

While some of you might wonder why this is even a story at this point, a post on Twitter this morning (I refuse to write the word "tweet". Wait a minute...) brought the subject back to mind and it was frustrating to think that Scott Pioli might be taking unnecessary hits for the lack of a different quarterback option with the Chiefs -- at least when it comes to Kyle Orton. Pioli might be blamed for a number of things, but I was baffled today when I read this:

Followers immediately began to agree, saying the Chiefs would be better off with Orton as their starter over Matt Cassel and that Kansas City's front office really screwed up this move.

For those wondering where this is coming from, let's offer up a very quick review followed by generally held perceptions about the mindset of quarterbacks in the NFL:

The Orton Review:
1. Kyle Orton was claimed by the Chiefs after being waived mid-season by the Denver Broncos.
2. The Chiefs suffered inexplicably through four -- count 'em, four -- consecutive starts by Tyler Palko.
3. Orton finally entered a game as the Chiefs starter with three games left in the season. The Chiefs won two of those, including games against the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos.
4. Orton becomes a free agent after the season and signs to be a back-up quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys.

*Side Note: One important thing needs to be noted that every NFL fan likely believes: A quarterback wants a chance to start more than anything else. Therefore, if a quarterback chooses to sign in a situation where he obviously will not start, the quarterback likely did not have an option to start for any team in the league.

From all of this, Chiefs fans (and NFL viewers in general) quickly put together a story they believed to be true. The script likely goes something like this:

Kyle Orton came in to win two of three games for the Chiefs and gave the offense signs of life. As a free agent, he was offered no place to start -- even in the city that he succeeded in. He left for the best back-up money he could find with Dallas to sit behind Tony Romo.

Add all of this together and you get the sort of quote above on Twitter that continues to purport this notion. Orton made the most of his chance and the powers-that-be in Kansas City still did not care. Scott Pioli is blinded by his man-crush on Matt Cassel. The New England way is stubborn and refuses to admit that Cassel is not going to work long-term here in KC. Whatever the viewpoint, these opinions are held by many inside and outside of Kansas City.

But this is not the truth. At least, not when it comes to Kyle Orton.

Instead, Kyle Orton decided to head for the well-paid hills of Dallas where he could live in comfort as the $5 million/year back-up of Tony Romo. He chose this over being the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs or any other team for that matter. And if he was not offered an option to start as a quarterback, then he lied through his teeth at he introduced himself to Cowboys fans.

"It just fit for what I was looking for," Orton said. "I had an idea of what I wanted to do kind of going into free agency and you don't get too many chances to hook up with an organization like the Cowboys. From everybody that I had talked to throughout the whole process they just had rave reviews of the organization. Talking to a guy like Jon Kitna, he just had great things to say about working with Tony, and I'm just excited for it."

Now that quote itself is not so bad. After all, players make the best of any situation they're in and talk it up. An undrafted guy invited to an NFL camp will say something like, "I'm just blessed to come out and compete." But then check out the following gem from Orton:

"I've been in a couple situations where I compete with this guy, compete with that guy and long term it never works out for anybody. I just wanted to be in a situation where I knew my role and could work to fulfill that role in the best way. I just felt with the Cowboys that was the best chance for me."

Here's the translation for Chiefs fans wondering why the team failed to keep a hold on Orton after he clearly fared well with the team:

"I didn't want to have to compete. That idea that everyone just wants a chance to start is not true -- at least not for me. I got offered very good money without having to deal with the headaches and questions of a quarterback controversy and I took it."

As to whether or not Scott Pioli should have added a different quarterback than Brady Quinn to the mix can be debated for another time. But at the very least, no one should believe the idea that the Chiefs allowed the Dallas Cowboys to take their quarterback option from them. Kyle Orton wanted to make money while not feeling any pressure. That's exactly what Jerry Jones allowed him to do.

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