By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Scott Pioli pushed his way through a doorway, into the Ralph Wilson Stadium tunnel and then, alone, disappeared into the Chiefs’ locker room.
The Chiefs’ problems are with their coaches and players, but the bigger issue is about the man who brought in those coaches and players. Yes, this game and this season are on Pioli, and there’s no denying that anymore. And there’s no more denying another truth, whether you’re ready to read it or not: The Chiefs will never win big while Pioli is this team’s boss. His priorities are too misguided, his insecurities and denial too immense to allow Kansas City’s favorite team to win the Super Bowl that he was brought here to claim.
Pioli is now in his fourth year of trying to justify the hype that earned him accolades in New England, respect within the NFL, and a multi-million-dollar job as a GM. Expectations were unreachable, maybe, but Pioli has done himself no favors by obsessing over trivial details, spending too much time trying to feed his addiction to his own reputation, and engineering a team using the “discount football” philosophy that has made the Hunt family richer but has gotten the Chiefs only marginally closer to a Super Bowl.
He whines to outsiders that the Chiefs’ salary-cap shortcomings are misunderstood? Well, spend more money, as team chairman Clark Hunt has said Pioli is authorized to do. Pioli excuses himself for his biggest mistakes, such as saying he just didn’t do his homework before hiring former coach Todd Haley? Well, why not? And he says privately that drafting a quarterback in the early rounds isn’t the point; it’s about drafting the right one. Well, Scott, then draft the right one. These things are big parts of Pioli’s job, but instead of acknowledging that, he chooses to tell himself — and, through back channels, you — that things are just fine.
In Scott We Trust? Not anymore.