Originally written January 16, 2012 on Obsessed With Sports:
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A couple weeks ago I wrote about how the Chargers are the best place to work. At least in the NFL. Now, as it turns out, the worst place to work in football is another team in that very same division. It’s an honor granted to the Scott Pioli led Chiefs of the AFC West. Holy heaven what a mess the Chiefs have created. That is, according to the Kansas City Star.
Haley suspected that many rooms at the team facility were bugged so that team administrators could monitor employees’ conversations. Stopping finally in a conference room, Haley said he believed his personal cellphone, a line he used before being hired by the Chiefs in 2009, had been tampered with.
Bugging rooms? Tapped phones? The Chiefs are like a terrible early-90s spy comedy. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Todd Haley is a complete lunatic. For this reason, I’d take accusations from him with a grain of salt. However, there are other substantive accusations in Kent Babb’s Kansas City Star piece. Much of the dirty falls squarely on the shoulders of Scott Pioli. Pioli took over in 2009, and apparently immediately went about changing the culture within the Chiefs facilities.
Some of the first changes involved shutting off access and protecting information. Non-football employees, including those who had worked for the Chiefs for decades, were told that they weren’t allowed on certain floors, or in certain areas of the team facility. Business-side staffers with an office window facing the practice fields were made to keep their shades drawn during practices. The team president was no exception. A security guard made the rounds during practices, sometimes interrupting phone calls and meetings to lower shades.
That’s the way to unify the business and football segments of the organization! Chiefs president Mark Donovan was asked about these internal rules. He said that this is done for every employee in order to make certain that no business-side employee is perceived as being trusted more than another. “This is making sure that everybody feels the same,” he said. Everyone must feel the same for sure — distrusted and unwanted.
After a while, a saying was adopted by top administrators for behavior that didn’t fit the new standards: “That’s so 2-and-14,” they would say, referring to the Chiefs’ win-loss record in 2008. This pertained to matters large and small: Stephanie Melton, who worked 11 years on the team’s operations staff, recalled Pioli’s reaction after she and a coworker, after working past midnight on a weekend, had parked a courier van in the unmarked space usually occupied by Pioli’s car. The women had forgotten to move it, and Pioli was livid the next morning. Melton said she was made to feel for several days that she’d be fired.
I wonder what Pioli drives. My guess is a Saab. A vast majority of people who drive Saab’s are a-holes. It’s a fact.
In January 2010, the worry was amplified and legitimized by a series of staff cuts. When Pioli took over, there were 19 employees in director or vice president positions. Many of them had been with the Chiefs for decades. Three years later, only three…
Number are always a good way to drive home a point. Those are striking ones. Pioli wanted to instill change. Based on that type of turnover, he certainly did so in regards to personnel. ********** Of course there is an underlying anti-Patriots sentiment in Babb’s article. That’s to be expected. Pioli was hired by KC based on what he did (or was perceived to have done) in New England. There is often an anti-media attitude in New England — perceived or not. And there has been a certain reliance on information privacy for the Patriots. A key example that touches both areas would be the often baffling injury report provided by New England. That type of information withholding by the Patriots is targeting outside presences. While Pioli’s rules ultimately meant to guard against information getting out, those policies targeted internal employees rather than focusing on external parties. It the Patriots are maniacal dickheads, they are at least unified maniacal dickheads. A strong ownership and business side of the house is often found in the perennially successful NFL franchises. Thus far, Pioli has absolutely gutted the Chiefs, for better or worse. He really comes off as a nutcase in the piece. Pioli learned from the other football executives in New England. But for all the talk about New England and for everything the Patriots are — we’ve never heard anything quite like this. Maybe Pioli needs more checks and balances to constrain his actions. That’s what he had in Foxboro in the form of an extremely strong ownership group and coaching staff. The full story is well-worth a read. It’s a long piece and there’s a good deal more that I didn’t touch upon here. There’s just too much to digest in one post, really. One additional favorite; a story of a security guard almost confiscating a man’s cellphone for taking a picture from outside the Chiefs practice facilities. If that’s the type of BS the Chiefs are worried about, it’s no wonder they can’t even compete in the worst division in football. [via KansasCity.com]
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