Chiefs could use a reality check


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Jan 22, 2006
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Chiefs could use a reality check
The Kansas City Star
RIVER FALLS, Wis. | Carl Peterson deserves credit for acquiring Michael Bennett and Kyle Turley to replace Priest Holmes and Willie Roaf.

Bennett and Turley — former first-round draft picks and still relatively young — performed at high levels before being slowed by injuries. They have the potential to contribute in a big way for the Chiefs this season.

Good job, King Carl.

On the other hand, Peterson’s unwillingness to move on publicly from fantasies concerning Holmes and Roaf returning to the Chiefs is a mistake that could hurt the psyche of the team.

Professional football is a game best played by the willing. And winning football games is so difficult, so physically demanding, that strong leaders realize you never give the willing an excuse for failure.

Peterson and coach Herm Edwards need to quit talking about Roaf and Holmes. Peterson and Edwards can privately wish that Roaf and Holmes will change their minds and return to football, but it’s unhealthy to continually express those desires publicly.

(And, yes, I’m quite aware that a doctor has not cleared Holmes for physical contact. I’ve also spent enough time in football to know that players play with lingering, dangerous injuries all the time, despite the concerns of doctors.)

It would be great if Roaf and Holmes returned to football. But there’s no reason to beg. Begging sends a message to the willing players that they’re not good enough to get the job done. Players start thinking: “Well, we can’t do this or that because Willie is not here.”

On Wednesday, Peterson announced the trade that brought Bennett to the Chiefs. A reporter immediately asked whether Bennett’s acquisition meant that the Chiefs have given up hope on Holmes.

“No,” Peterson said. “This is not an indication that Priest is not coming back.”

Please. Of course it’s an indication that Holmes isn’t coming back.

Peterson was later asked about Roaf, and Peterson indicated that the Chiefs wouldn’t put Roaf on the reserve-retired list for quite some time. Peterson insinuated the door would be open for Roaf’s return until week 10.

Peterson said Roaf’s retirement was a “large reversal” on Roaf’s stated intentions at the end of last season.

I don’t have a problem with the Chiefs being open to Roaf’s return. I have a problem with Peterson and Edwards looking weak and as if they’re scared to death of going into the season without Roaf.

Here’s what Peterson should say: “Specific to Roaf and Holmes, we’d love to have them back, but there’s only one constant in football, and that is change. We’re going to win football games with 53 willing players. We feel very good about the willing players we have in camp. We have a playoff-caliber team, and I expect the team to perform up to that level.”

There’s no reason to act panicked. There’s no reason for players to keep calling Willie and telling him how easy Camp Herm is.

Breaking news: The Chiefs never won a playoff game with Roaf and Holmes.

That’s not a knock on Roaf or Holmes. It’s acknowledgment that the Pittsburgh Steelers figured out how to win the Super Bowl a season ago without Roaf or Holmes. It can be done. The Chiefs can do it.

But they first have to develop the belief that they can do it. It’s up to Carl and Herm to develop that belief. They won’t do it if they keep acting as if the sky is falling because Willie Roaf isn’t in Wisconsin.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I sent Willie an e-mail Tuesday begging him to return my phone call and reconsider.

Hey, look, I spent the better part of two years guaranteeing Ty Law would take this team to the Super Bowl. Willie is trying to blow up my opportunity to look smart.

Plus, Carl, Herm and the players should leave the begging and the groveling to professionals, people who know what they’re doing.
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