It’s Official: Cassel Will Wear No. 7

New Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassesl will be wearing No. 7 this season for the Chiefs.

During his time with the Patriots he wore No. 16, but that number is retired in red and gold since it belonged to Hall of Famer Len Dawson.

So Cassel went with No. 7.

The last Chiefs player to wear the numer was kicker Justin Medlock in 2007.  Other quarterbacks who have worn the number were John Huarte (1969-71), Mike Nott (1976), Ron Jaworski (1989), Ted White (1999), Joe Germaine (2001) and Casey Printers (2006).  Only Huarte, Nott and Jaworski got on the field.

Readers Speak Again: It’s Curry or Trade Down

A month later, the temperature of Chiefs fans remains pretty much the same when it comes to the third choice of the first round in the 2009 NFL Draft.

The favored route for Chiefs fans at the end of March matches that of our first vote back in February.

No. 1 choice among Chiefs fans was drafting Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

The second choice among the fans was trading down and out of the No. 3 pick, in hopes of picking up more draft choices.

The newest name that popped up in March was Florida State defensive end Everette Brown. He wasn’t mentioned in February, but got three votes this month.

Ten votes in February went to quarterbacks Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez. Remember that poll was taken before the trade that brought Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots. Even with that trade, one fan still wanted to select Mark Sanchez at No. 3.

Here’s how the numbers broke down in the votes in both February and March:







LB Aaron Curry



Trade Down



Eugene Monroe



Everette Brown



Michael Crabtree



Donald Brown



Mark Sanchez



Matt Stafford



B.J. Raji



Jeremy Macklin



Brian Orapko



Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/31

This is the 90th day of the year and a tip of the hat to No. 90s in Chiefs history, led by DE Neil Smith.

Born on this day in 1928 was one of the greatest hockey players in history, Gordie Howe. Born in 1935 was trumpeter Herb Alpert and in 1945 brought the birth of Gabe “Mr. Kotter” Kaplan.

It was on this day in 1968 that President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. That decision ended up bringing us Richard Nixon. In 1985, the first Wrestlemania was held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

And on this day in 1931, a legend died in a Kansas wheat field. Knute Rockne was on an airplane that had taken off from Kansas City. The legendary head coach at Notre Dame had stopped off to see his sons Bill and Knute Jr. who were in boarding school at Pembroke-Country Day School. The Fokker F.10 Trimotor aircraft took off as a regularly scheduled flight from what was a new airline, Transcontinental & Western Air, known as TWA. It was TWA flight 599.

The plane was in the air for less than an hour when it crashed near Bazaar, Kansas, about 10 miles south of Cottonwood Falls. All six passengers and two crew members were killed. At first, investigators thought the crash was weather related, but later it was learned that the crash came because of problems with the aircraft itself.

At the site of the crash stands a monument (right) to those who died.

Rockne’s coaching record at Notre Dame was 105-12-5, with five undefeated seasons in his 13 years leading the Irish. He had resigned after the ’30 season and was flying to Los Angeles to serve as an advisor for the filming of the movie The Spirit of Notre Dame.

On March 31, 1931, Knute Rockne was just 43 years old. …Read More!

Tuesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

It wasn’t perfect attendance for the first day of the Pioli/Haley Era at Arrowhead.

Right now, they have 65 players under contract. The head coach said Monday afternoon some 60 players were there for the team meeting and the strength and conditioning sessions.

That’s not 100 percent when all the heads were counted. But 92 percent ain’t bad.

Of course all anybody wanted to know was the eight percent who were not in the building. It was not a surprise that Todd Haley wasn’t going to provide a roll call. Who could blame him? Not many coaches would talk negatives when asked to summarize the first team meeting of their tenure.

“To have my coaches and the team together in one room was exciting stuff for me,” Haley said Monday afternoon. “It was exciting to get in front of the team, talk to them and kind of lay it out there what my expectations were and what was going to be asked of them over the next 12 weeks of the off-season.”

Larry Johnson was spotted in the building, but it’s not known if he took part in any activities.  There was no word on Brian Waters and Tony Gonzalez.

The attention was on strength and conditioning on the first day, other than Haley speaking to the group for the first time. That’s how it will stay for the first several weeks; Haley says the physical end is most important right now.

“The coaches and the players are chomping at the bit,” Haley said. “It is a tough deal because it is a new staff, new system, some new terminology and other things. Guys get a little anxious but we have a camp coming up here the weekend before the draft and that week we will probably spend a little classroom time so they can get a feel for what will be going on to help them through the camp.”

I think it’s safe to say that if there were 60 players in the house and there were five players who did not show up … well, if they had not cleared their absence ahead of time, those five names will be burned in the brains of Haley and Scott Pioli. Heck, even if the players provided prior notice, it’s something this pair will remember. …Read More!

Excited Haley Welcomes Back Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

On his first day in front of his team as head coach, Todd Haley welcomed approximately 60 players back for the start  of the team’s off-season conditioning program.

And right off the bat, he said he would not provide information on who was there and who was not there.  But obviously, with 60 players that’s not quite the Chiefs whole roster, which stands at 65 as of Monday afternoon.

 ”I thought we had a great turnout,” said Haley.  “After two months of non-football business, and moving and getting settled, it was nice to get the players back in the building and see what the team looked  like.”

Haley spoke with the players and coaching staff as a group on Monday and outlined his expectations for them over this 12-week program.

Right now, the emphasis is on the physical end of football.  The mental end will come in the following weeks.

“The coaches and the players are chomping at the bit,” Haley said of getting to the classroom.  “That’s one of the fights you get into.  This is the time to get your body ready.  It’s a tough deal. It’s a new staff and new system and new terminology and guys get a little anxious.

“We’ve got a camp coming up here the weekend before the draft, that week we’ll probably spend a little class room time.”

Chiefs Learn Pre-Season Foes

The NFL has announced pre-season opponents for the 2009 season.

The Chiefs will open their pre-season schedule at home against Houston on the weekend of August 14-15-16.

They will play on the road at Minnesota on the weekend of August 21-22-23.

Seattle will visit Arrowhead Stadium on the weekend of August 28-29-30.

And the Chiefs will finish up the pre-season with their Governor’s Cup game against St. Louis on September 3 or 4.

Exact dates and times have not been determined and there’s always the possibility that some of the games could move to a Monday or Thursday night for TV or stadium purposes.  Right now, there are 11 national TV games scheduled in the pre-season and the Chiefs are not part of any of those broadcasts.

If the past is any indication, the NFL regular season schedule should be released sometime in the next two weeks.  The Chiefs already know they will host games against San Diego, Denver, Oakland, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants and Buffalo, while traveling to games in San Diego, Denver, Oakland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Washington and Jacksonville.

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/30

So this is the 89th day of the year, and we must honor one of the greatest Chiefs players who wore the No. 89, wide receiver Otis Taylor. Other 89s include Henry Marshall, Keith Cash, Andre Rison and Jason Dunn.

Born on March 30, 1945 was one of the greatest guitarists in history, Eric Clapton. In 1986, actor James Cagney passed away at the age of 86.

And on March 30, 1867, Alaska was purchased by the United States from Russia, thanks to the work of Secretary of State William Seward. The purchase was 586,412 square miles at a cost of $7.2 million, or about two cents an acre. Even in today’s money, it would be a good deal. Based on 2009 dollars, the same purchase would cost $108 million.

Before we get started, you must visit this link. The folks at Guitar Hero have outdone themselves this time. If you thought Alex Rodriquez, Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps and some guy wearing a helmet were great in that TV ad, you’ve got to see this one. Just watch the looks on Roy Williams face! I’m not sure how much Guitar Hero paid for this one, but it had to be a lot to get these four guys together.

Here’s the link to

From the Baltimore Sun:
March 29, 1984, remains the most infamous day in Baltimore sports history. Ask longtime residents about it and they’ll practically spit the words “Irsay” and “Mayflower.”

As the moving trucks rolled out in the snow that morning, they carried away the blue-and-white Colts gear that had meant so much to Baltimoreans in the John Unitas era. Surely, that legacy had no place in Indianapolis. Worse still, the departure left city residents to confront their fears that Baltimore was a third-rate town.

With 25 years of perspective, however, it’s possible to argue that March 29, 1984, was actually a good day for Baltimore sports. It allowed the city to cut ties with a desperately flawed franchise and a deeply unpopular owner. It spurred elected officials to get serious about plans that would keep the Orioles in Baltimore and attract a new NFL team. Those plans bore fruit in Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, beloved facilities that are now as intrinsic to downtown as the Inner Harbor. The Ravens arrived in 1996 and won a Super Bowl six years before the Colts brought Indianapolis its first Lombardi Trophy.

So, perhaps, crazy as it might sound, Bob Irsay did everyone a favor when he suddenly ordered his franchise packed into green, yellow and red trucks.


…Read More!

Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

As the Chiefs begin their off-season conditioning program on Monday, there will be two different views of the same issue.

Scott Pioli and Todd Haley will be watching to see who shows up. The Kansas City and national media will be looking to see whose shadow does not cross the door of the team’s facilities.

The fact is those outside the locker room and second floor at Chiefs headquarters are unlikely to find out just who showed up and who did not for the start of the “voluntary” program.

The media has already been warned they can only be in the media workroom. They cannot sit in the parking lot and count heads as they walk into the building. The locker room will be off-limits and given the way Pioli has structured things during his time in control of the franchise, the team won’t be providing attendance figures.

Eventually, we will all find out. Will the unhappy three amigos find their way to the locker room? Will Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters be there for the first meeting and the first sessions in the weight room?

At best, I peg the chances as 33 percent that the trio will be there together. More than likely one of the three will be around. Anything more than one of the three and it’s a pretty good indication the team’s three stars have gotten the message that things are very different around the team with the new regime.

Over the last few years, these three guys seldom if ever, showed up for the first day of the off-season program. But things are very different now. Just about everything involving the players is going to be different around the Chiefs this year and Monday is when they start finding that out. …Read More!

What Should Chiefs Do At No. 3/Volume #2

It was just over a month ago we asked you what you wanted the Chiefs to do with the third pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. This was in late February, before the start of free agency and before the trade that brought Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for the club’s second-round choice.

At that time the vote was centered on two choices: Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry and trading down.  Curry had 27 votes, trading down had 26 and a very distant third was QB Matt Stafford with 6.5 votes.

OK, it’s more than a month later and we are a month away from the draft, so it’s a good time to take your temperature again.

In 25 words or less, let us know what the Chiefs should do at No. 3.  If you’ve changed your mind since last time, let us know that as well.  Keep it to the name of a player, a trade down or a trade up and reasons why.

Please, no long disertations and chatter here.  Save that for the results when you guys can go at each other on your decisions.

Polls are open now through noon on Monday morning.  Unlike Chicago however, where they say vote early and vote often, how about one vote each.

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/29

While Traveling America’s Highways & Byways

It’s the 88th day of the year and we honk our horn for all the men who have work No. 88 for the Chiefs, including of course, the current resident of that number, Tony Gonzalez. Or, at least he’s wearing it as of today. Other 88s include Chris Burford, Walter White, J.J. Birden and Carlos Carson.

On this day in 1896, in the backyard of his home in Atlanta, Dr. John Pemberton brewed up the first batch of what would eventually become known as Coca-Cola. Born on March 29, 1917 was Man o’ War, one of the greatest race horses in American history. Next time you happen to be in Lexington, Kentucky, take a drive on Man o’ War Boulevard.

And on March 29, 1806, Congress authorized construction on the Great National Pike, known as the Cumberland Road. It became the first federal highway.

Let me tell you after spending the past week putting in a lot of miles on federal highways, the Cumberland Road 203 years ago was in better shape that most of the interstates in Michigan.

From the St. Petersburg Times:
The small boat rocked wildly in 6-foot waves. More than 30 miles from shore, the four men knew it was time to go back, time to pull up anchor. But it wouldn’t budge. By turns, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and former University of South Florida football players Will Bleakley and Nick Schuyler all heaved mightily to no avail. They decided to retie the anchor line from the bow of the 21-foot boat to the stern, then gun the engine to jerk the anchor out of the gulf’s bottom.

It only made matters worse. The thrust pushed the anchor deeper, tightening the anchor line and pulling down the stern of the boat, exposing it to sloshing seas. In one swift moment, the boat became swamped, overturned and dumped the four men into 62-degree seas.

…Read More!

Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways

Now the Chiefs and Larry Johnson wait to see what the Commissioner has to say.

And what an arbitrator has to say about his contract in a grievance proceeding filed by the NFL Players Association.

And yes, it’s another Chiefs soap opera that has little to do with football.

Let’s start with the judicial end. On Friday, Johnson pleaded guilty to a pair of disturbing the peace charges in a plea arrangement with Kansas City prosecutors from two separate incidents involving women at K.C. nightclubs. The first happened last February at the Grand Emporium; the second incident came in October at Club Blonde.

Johnson was sentenced to two years probation by Kansas City Municipal Court Judge Joseph Locascio, but if he follows all the court’s orders and gets through two years without further problems, the guilty pleas will be removed from his record.

What everyone waits to see is whether Johnson’s ability to play in the NFL will be removed for a game or two. Johnson was suspended by the league last November for one game after he was charged with the October incident.

At that time, Commissioner Roger Goodell was very clear in what he told both Johnson and the Chiefs. The suspension was one game, but there could be additional sanctions based on the outcome of legal proceedings.

The legal outcome is not good for Johnson in the eyes of the league. By pleading guilty to the lesser charges without going through any type of trial or presentation of evidence, that’s a pretty good indicator that Johnson and his legal eagles were not especially confident about winning in court as they knew the evidence was not in their favor. In fact, when asked by Judge Locascio whether he would be found guilty of the charges in a trial, Johnson replied in the affirmative.

Based on how Goodell has handled things during his reign as Commissioner, there seems little doubt that Johnson will receiver further league discipline. What Goodell looks for in these incidents is a pattern of behavior and there’s no question there’s a pattern with L.J. These two incidents bring to four the number of times law enforcement was called because of problems involving Johnson and women. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/27

While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways

It’s Day No. 86 on the year and we must raise our glass in toast to one of the greatest athletes to wear the number, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Buck Buchanan.

It was on this day in 1963 that movie director Quentin Tarantino was born. And it was on this day in 2002 that the entertainment world suffered a triple-header of untimely passing as actor Dudley Moore went at the age of 66, comedian Milton Berle died at the age of 93 and movie director Billy Wilder left us at the age of 95.

And it was on this day in 1998 that the Food & Drug Administration approved public use of sildenafil citrate, otherwise known as the little blue pill. Viagra.

Things haven’t been the same since.

From columnist Mark Kriegel: At the base of a grand staircase, the exhibit was installed to commemorate the American Football League, conceived half a century ago by a gang of renegade rich men who called themselves “The Foolish Club.” But the photograph that catches my eye features Al Davis, newly appointed as the commissioner, sandwiched between Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and Jack Kemp, then a handsome young quarterback. Davis wears a skinny tie, a toothy grin and just enough pompadour to announce his contempt for the standards and practices of company men. He’s in his early thirties, just beginning to feel the possibilities of his power.

And now, as the owners adjourn from their morning meetings here at the St. Regis resort, the man himself comes into view.

Almost half a century later, the pompadour has been decimated, a matted wisp in its place. Davis’ eyes are red-rimmed and damp. His hands are purplish and papery with age. But never — ever — has Al Davis looked more defiant, even heroic, than he does right now, pushing a walker across the marble floor

MORE …Read More!

Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways

The NFL meetings this week in California wrapped up with little fanfare. As they met in the middle of southern California opulence, we thankfully did not hear much from the league and ownership about tough financial times.

That doesn’t mean there was not a bit of hypocrisy in the air.

During the meetings, the owners voted in a handful of rules provisions that were supposedly based on player safety. Thanks to the Bernard Pollard rule they’ve now made the quarterback all but untouchable and they’ve legislated out some of the game’s most physical plays.

Again, all of these tweaks of the rules were done in the name of player safety.

But then Commissioner Roger Goodell wrapped up the meetings talking about extending the NFL regular season, making it 17 or 18 games, rather than the current 16. The 20-game pre and regular season would continue, it would just no longer be broken up into segments of four and 16.

Now, how does playing more regular season games exist with this theme of player safety?

Legislate the football out of football, but then play more games, thus exposing players to more hits and more potential injuries? Sorry, the league talking out of both sides of its mouth. …Read More!

Bottom of Bird Cage 3/26

While Traveling America’s Highways & Byways

This is the 85th day of the year and we flash our headlights in honor of No. 85 in Chiefs history, led by Bill Hull, Chuck Hurston, Ed Beckman and Jonathon Hayes among others.

It was on this day in 1953 that Jonas Salk announced his polio vaccine, one of the great medical discoveries/inventions in history. March 26 is a day for poets. On this day in 1874, Robert Frost was born and on this day in 1892 Walt Whitman passed away.

Also born on March 26, 1919 was actor Strother Martin, who may have summed up the situation involving the Chiefs and Tony Gonzalez best when he uttered this line from the great movie Cool Hand Luke:

“What we have here is … failure to communicate.”

The same can be said for some of what follows.

From the Dallas Morning News: As he rushed his family to the hospital, 26-year-old NFL running back Ryan Moats rolled through a red light. A Dallas police officer pulled their SUV over outside the emergency room. Moats and his wife explained that her mother was dying inside the hospital.

“You really want to go through this right now?” Moats pleaded. “My mother-in-law is dying. Right now!” The officer, 25-year-old Robert Powell, was unmoved. He spent long minutes writing Moats a ticket and threatened him with arrest. “I can screw you over,” the officer told Moats. “I’d rather not do that.”

The scene last week, captured by a dashboard video camera, prompted apologies and the promise of an investigation from Dallas police officials Wednesday. “There were some things that were said that were disturbing, to say the least,” said Lt. Andy Harvey, a police spokesman.


…Read More!

The Circus Guy With A Broom

While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways

I promised myself when this website was born that I would not spend an inordinate amount of time writing about the media. The media loves to talk and write about the media. Frankly, I think it’s boring for most people; it’s inside information important only to ink-stained wretches, tin-throats and hairdos.

There was no way I wanted to be the guy who works at the circus and follows the elephants around with a broom. Elephants eat every day, and they leave evidence of that behind them every day. Cleaning up messes involving the media is the equivalent of the same thing, every single day.

But crossing over the Illinois/Indiana state line on Wednesday came word that Chicken Little was at it again.

Chicken Little? You remember the character from the children’s fable who constantly goes around screaming the sky is falling, the sky is falling. But the sky doesn’t fall. His screaming just causes hysteria at first, before people just stop paying attention.

Well the Kansas City sports radio world has its own Chicken Little. His credibility has been worn away from years of screaming the sky is falling. He knows that fact and it makes him even more shrill when he says another sky is falling.

Wednesday, Chicken Little reported there was a chance of a strike by workers at the Truman Sports Complex, where renovations are going on at both Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead. That fact is true.

But then Chicken Little had to add this fact: the Chiefs had petitioned the NFL to play all their home games on the road in the 2009 season.

No source was given on this information. That’s not hard to believe because it’s made-up. Chicken Little created the information. If he didn’t, he got suckered by somebody on the union side of these negotiations.

So Chicken Little is either a liar, or a fool. …Read More!

Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

While Traveling America’s Highways and Byways

The Denver Broncos have their soap opera, As The Cutler Turns.

Now, the Chiefs officially have their own passion play. Call this one The Old & Restless.

Old, in this case being veteran tight end in Tony Gonzalez. Joining him in this football ménage a trios are the duo of Pioli/Haley and chairman of the board Clark Hunt.

A short synopsis of the plot – Clark wants Tony, Pioli/Haley need players who want to be with the Chiefs, and Tony G. wants out of the Chiefs and Kansas City.

There have been previous episodes of his drama, going back to October and then again in early February. This week it fired up again. It all started on Tuesday when Hunt was quoted by the Kansas City Star as saying about Gonzalez and his situation:

“We certainly will not seek a trade for Tony. I think he’s excited about the changes we’ve made here. I think he recognizes that with Todd as the head coach, we’re going to have an exciting offense and one that will feature the passing game. No matter our starting quarterback, it will be someone who will look his way quite a bit.”

Tuesday morning, Gonzalez was sitting somewhere – more than likely at his home in SoCal – when he read or got wind of Hunt’s comments. We can only guess on his initial reaction, but I’m betting it went along the lines of something like this:

“Oh sh#&@!” …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/25

Welcome to the 84th day of the year and we raise our morning coffee to toast those who wore No. 84 in red and gold through the years, led by the great Fred Arbanas, along with Willie Davis, Joe Horn and Paul Coffman.

It was on this day in 1634 that the first settlers arrived in what is now the state of Maryland. On March 25, 1969 while on their honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their first Bed-in for Peace in Amsterdam. In room 702 of the Amsterdam Hilton, they spent a week in bed and invited the world’s media to visit them between 9 and 9 each day. During those 12 hours every day, they sat together in bed and talked about peace; nothing else.

And it was on March 25, 1983 that Bob Waterfield passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 62. If Waterfield was in his prime today, he would be on the sports page and gossip page, just like Tom Brady. He grew up in Los Angeles and went to UCLA where he was an All-America quarterback. He got married in his senior year in college to his classmate from Van Nuys High School named Jane Russell. She went on to become a Hollywood starlet, signed to an exclusive deal by Howard Hughes. He went on to star in the NFL with the Cleveland-Los Angeles Rams. He was MVP of the NFL in his rookie season of 1945 and was known throughout his career for his ability and willingness for throwing the long bomb. Not many quarterbacks had the arm or the daring to do it in those days, but Waterfield was one of them.

With that big arm and that big starlet on his arm, every kid growing up in southern California back then wanted to be Bob Waterfield.

Today, they’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a football team.

From the Associated Press: Contrary to remarks by Kansas City owner Clark Hunt, Tony Gonzalez wants to be traded if the right deal can be made, a person close to the Pro Bowl tight end told the Associated Press on Tuesday. Asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, the person said Gonzalez was surprised that Hunt had said the Chiefs were definitely not going to trade their 10-time Pro Bowler.

“If the right deal can be made, Tony very much wants the Chiefs to trade him,” the person said. “Tony is not demanding a trade. Tony cherishes the time he’s spent with the Chiefs and he loves the way he’s always been treated by the fans there. But he knows of some other teams that would be interested in him and if the right deal can be made, he wants it to be made.”

A Chiefs spokesman said Hunt could not be immediately reached. At the owners’ meeting in Dana Point, Calif., on Monday, Hunt said the Chiefs had decided not to deal Gonzalez, whose many NFL records includes the most catches, yards receiving and touchdown receptions by a tight end.

“We certainly will not seek a trade for Tony,” Hunt told the Kansas City Star. “I think he’s excited about the changes we’ve made here. I think he recognizes that with Todd (Haley) as the head coach, we’re going to have an exciting offense and one that will feature the passing game.”


…Read More!

Wednesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

No matter what happens over the rest of his career, Bernard Pollard has earned a place in football history.

In the continuing effort by the league to take the football out of football, the league passed rules measures at its league meeting in California on Tuesday that continue to trend in taking physical play out of the game.

That’s not what the league likes to say. They say it’s all about player safety. But the surest way to get a new rule passed involving player safety is to get one of those crunching hits or tackles that gets replayed all over ESPN for the next week.

Then six months to a year later the league will pass a rule that outlaws that type of play.

Listen, I’m all for protecting players and cutting down on injuries. In this effort, the league continues to make it harder for its players to play the game and its officials to rule on their actions. Plays like the clothesline tackle and clipping have been outlawed and that’s good. But the Bernard Pollard rule, the Hines Ward rule and the Ryan Clark rule are taking out of the game perfectly legal plays because somebody got hurt.

Hey, it’s a violent game. Players get hurt all the time. Legislating against this stuff won’t stop players from getting injured.

Pollard knocked out Tom Brady (above) for the season when he scrambled on his hands and knees to get to the New England quarterback in the season opener. He ended up hitting Brady on the left knee, causing enough damage that the quarterback was done.

Now it’s a shame the Patriots lost their star and the league lost one of its better players. But that’s football. There was nothing wrong with what Pollard did. He was not penalized during the game and he was not fined by the NFL after the league office looked at the play on tape in the days after the game.

Now, if the same play happened in the ’09 season opener he would be flagged and conceivably suspended. …Read More!

Throwback Nonsense

I’m told there are a few Chiefs fans unhappy with the team’s plans to wear throwback helmets this season to honor the 50th season of play in the American Football League.

They are unhappy because the throwback helmet the Chiefs will wear for three games is that of the Dallas Texans. They are in a snit because of this helmet:

There is no other helmet for the Chiefs to wear, because they’ve had the same helmet since they moved to Kansas City from Dallas in 1963.

In fact, the Chiefs uniform has changed very little over the years; that’s just the way Lamar Hunt wanted the situation. Historically, the franchise had many opportunities with “new starts” to change the uniform, but Lamar never thought it was necessary.

So the red helmet with the state of Texas on the side is the only option available.

The fans who should be vigilant about helmets in this 50th season are the folks in Denver. If Chiefs fans have their red and gold panties in a bunch over wearing the Texans helmet, at least thank goodness there’s no chance of digging up a helmet like this one from Broncos past:

If it’s hard to see just how horrible that helmet is, here’s the logo itself:

Now that’s something to get upset about.

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/24

It’s the 83rd day of the year, so we salute those men who so proudly wore the eight and the three during their careers with the Chiefs, led by Morris Stroud, Larry Brunson, Stephone Paige and Danan Hughes.

On this day in 1973 they held the first ever openly professional track meet in Los Angeles, as Kip Keino beat Jim Ryun in the mile. In 1944 on this day, 76 prisoners of war broke out of Stalag Luft III in Poland in a tale that was made into the movie The Great Escape. Sadly 73 of those 76 were recaptured, with 50 executed by the Gestapo on orders from Hitler.

On this day in 1930 was born one of the stars of The Great Escape, Steve McQueen, who arrived in this world in Beach Grove, Indiana. McQueen spent a lot of his early years growing up in Slater, Missouri on a family farm.  Slater is just east of Marshall and northwest of Booneville. 

Maybe the most memorable sequence in a McQueen movie was his car chase through the hilly streets of San Francisco in the film Bullitt. Today, we start with a story about another hill in San Francisco.

From the San Jose Mercury News:
Players who hear Mike Singletary’s fiery speeches swear that the man can make the earth move. In this case, he did. Singletary ordered that a hill be made adjacent to the 49ers’ practice fields. What had been a gentle slope is now padded with 2,500 tons of dirt. It takes a run of about 45 feet to get to the top — as the 49ers players will soon discover first-hand.

What does Singletary call his creation?

“Pain,” he said Saturday before the second and final day of the 49ers’ mini-camp. Mt. Pain isn’t quite ready for climbers yet, but the plan is to use it for conditioning drills. Singletary used to run hills himself during his playing days, as did Hall-of-Fame teammate Walter Payton. The 49ers’ Jerry Rice was famous for his sprint work in the hills of San Carlos.

…Read More!

Tuesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

The boys had a busy day at the NFL’s spring meeting in Dana Point, California on Monday.

The league announced the big opening weekend games and Thanksgiving television affairs. As one might have expected, the Chiefs were left out of that.

Also announced were the compensatory draft picks that teams receive based on free agency activity from last season. The Chiefs were not left out of that, although what they received was hardly an Easter basket. It was more like one of those plastic eggs with a jelly bean inside. One egg, one jelly bean.

Sometimes that pays off. The Chiefs have had seven previous compensatory picks; the most recent was a third-round choice that they used to select punter Dustin Colquitt (left).

In the 2009 NFL Draft, the Chiefs picked up what will be the final choice. It’s the seventh round, pick No. 256, the 47th selection in that round.

The last two picks went to the Chiefs and Detroit with the intent of rounding out the compensatory choices to a total of 32.  The Chiefs and Rams were tied in the draft order and they alternate positions throughout the draft, with the Chiefs selecting third in the odd numbered rounds and second in even numbered rounds.  The league considered the last two compensatory picks as the equivalent of an eighth-round, so the Chiefs got the choice over the Rams.

It’s nearly impossible for an outsider to figure out all the twists and turns of the formula used by the league office to decide on these extra choices. And when I mean outsiders, I’m talking about club executives as well. There’s no clear formula that even the NFL teams can count on to predict what will happen with the picks. Believe me, I’ve seen documents and letters from the league office trying to explain what happens in this process, but it’s hard to make head or tails about some of their decisions. Plus, there’s a basic element of their formula that’s just plain wrong and should have been corrected years ago.

Let’s see if I can explain this system without killing several terabytes. …Read More!

Chiefs Get Extra Draft Pick

The NFL announced that it was awarding 32 compensatory draft picks for next month’s draft.

The Chiefs will receive a seventh-round choice, the final pick of the 2009 Draft.

These picks cannot be traded, so teams will have to exercise those picks.  Here’s how they break down by round with the overall pick in the entire draft order.  Remember compensatory picks come at the end of rounds three through seven:

  • Third-round – New England (97th pick), Cincinnati (98), Chicago (99), New York Giants (100).
  • Fourth-round – San Diego (133), San Diego (134), Tennessee (135), Indianapolis (136).
  • Fifth-round – Pittsburgh (169), New England (170), San Francisco (171), Dallas (172), Tennessee (173).
  • Sixth-round – Tennessee (206), New England (207), Dallas (208), Cincinnati (209).
  • Seventh-round – Tennessee (242), Washington (243), San Francisco (244), Seattle (245), Chicago (246), Seattle (247 and 248), Cincinnati (249), Jacksonville (250), Chicago (251), Cincinnati (252), Jacksonville (253), Arizona (254) Detroit (255) and the Chiefs (256).

More details on the compenstory picks in Tuesday’s Morning Cup O’Chiefs.

NFL Prime-Time TV Games Leaking Out

Generally in the first days of the NFL’s annual spring meeting, some of the prime-time games for television are either announced or leaked by the league.  That was happening Monday in Dana Point, California.

And Chiefs fans, there’s no mention of your favorite team.

The NFL season opener will be on Thursday,  September 10 at Heinz Field as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Tennessee Titans.  That game will be broadcast by NBC.

The first Sunday Night Football telecast also on NBC will feature Chicago at Green Bay on September 13.

The opening weekend Monday Night Football doubleheader on September 14, features the American Football League celebrating it’s 50th season of play with Buffalo visting New England and then San Diego at Oakland.  Those games will be on ESPN.

The  Thanksgiving Day tripleheader features Green Bay at Detroit on FOX, Oakland at Dallas on CBS and the New York Giants at Denver on the NFL Network.

Interesting that is seven showcase games, and there are 12 teams involved and only four made the playoffs last year: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, San Diego and the N.Y. Giants.  Two prime games for the Raiders, a 5-11 team last year?

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/23

It’s the 82nd day of the year, so we acknowledge those men who wore No. 82 so proudly for the Chiefs, including Ed Lothamer, Anthony Hancock, Gary Butler, Tim Barnett, Derrick Alexander, Dante Hall and currently, Dwayne Bowe.

Born on March 23, 1929 was Roger Bannister, the first man to run the mile in less than four minutes. That happened in May 1954 in Oxford, England. His time was 3:59.4

And it was on this day in 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia that Patrick Henry made a speech that would live forever. Speaking to the Virginia Convention, in an audience that included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Henry’s speech ended with this:

“The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me
liberty or give me death!”

Here are some far less serious words from the world of sports.

From the New York Times:
The worst economy since the Great Depression is settling over the fields, courts, tracks, luxury suites and boardrooms of professional sports. The N.F.L. cut 169 jobs, and its commissioner reduced his salary by about 20 percent. The N.B.A. shed a tenth of its staff, and ESPN will not fill 200 vacant jobs. The United States Olympic Committee laid off 54 workers to cut millions from its budget, and Nascar teams have laid off hundreds of employees.

…Read More!

Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

I don’t know about you, but I sure wish I was sitting on the veranda at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort in Dana Point, California. I’d be gulping down the fresh orange juice and enjoying a bagel while soaking in the morning sunshine and staring at the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, I’m in the basement with a cup of Tang and a piece of toast, and the only rays I’m soaking in are coming off the computer screen.

Oh, to be one of the power elite at the NFL’s annual spring meeting that began yesterday in SoCal.

There is no lack of items on the agenda to create conversation for the owners and power guys. There is the current economic situation to discuss. There’s preparation and a look down the road to the negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. There are questions about expanding the regular-season schedule to 18 games, and other items like roster limits and regulations and playing rules around the game.

One item should be considered by the owners, but it probably will only be talked about over toddies at the nightly cocktail party or over a cup of coffee and Danish on the terrace in the California sunshine.

That would be a complete change in the NFL’s off-season calendar. …Read More!

The League After Three Weeks of Free Agency

Listen up Chiefs fans!

If you are a follower of the red and gold and think the Chiefs have sat on the sidelines too much in the last three weeks as the NFL’s 2009 personnel season began, think again.

After three full weeks of the unrestricted free agent market, the Chiefs have actually been one of the most active teams in the league.

No, really. They have signed six UFAs and that doesn’t include re-signing safety Jon McGraw. There are only four teams in the league that have signed more UFAs from other teams.

Throw in the trade that brought QB Matt Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel to the team from New England and again the Chiefs have more new players than all but a few teams in the NFL.

The numbers are an indication that more and more NFL teams have finally come to understand what the free agency is good for and how it can help their teams. That comes from judicious shopping in free agency rather than willy-nilly spending.

After the usual flurry of signings in the first three or four days, the pace of activity has dropped considerably. Now, three weeks later the UFA shelves are pretty bare. As of 11 p.m. Friday evening, there were only two UFA signings announced in the previous 24 hours, the least active day of the last 22 in the league.

Three factors have kept the lid on free agency around the league. …Read More!

Weekend Cup O’Chiefs 3/21-22

This weekend the NFL will arrive in southern California for the league’s annual March meetings.

There will be a lot of talk about money and the league will discuss the tough economic times and how they’ve had to tighten their budgets and lay off employees. They will point towards potential labor trouble coming up with the NFL Players Association.

This will be done at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort (left) in Dana Point, high on cliffs that hang above the Pacific Ocean. This is what you think about when you thoughts turn to sunny SoCal. It’s all part of Laguna Beach, Newport Beach strip of million dollar homes and remarkable resorts.

Like the St. Regis. There’s a golf course, a spa, a giant pool with cabanas around the perimeter, luxury rooms, luxury food and the type of service that doesn’t come at the Red Roof Inn.

Now there’s a chance the league got itself a good rate at this resort, but the lowest advertised price on line for a room this coming week there is $375. Some of the rooms go for between $725 and $825 dollars. That’s not for the week mind you, that’s per night. Most folks in the league will be there for at least four nights.

Teams will have ownership, GM, coach and high ranking club officials in attendance. Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli and Todd Haley will all be there for the Chiefs. Others in the organization may join them. In the past, the Chiefs traveling party was generally four to five people.

Understand this is no knock against the NFL for wanting to hold a meeting in this type of luxury. For many of the officials, it’s a chance for payback to their wives for all the long hours during the season. Hey, it’s the owners money and if they want luxury along with the sun, sand and ocean, that’s fine. That is their right, and it is their business.

Just don’t expect us to believe that the league is suffering through tough economic times. It will not fly. It will not float. It just isn’t believable. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/20

It’s the 79th day of the year and we pause from March Madness (my bracket looks pretty good right now) to honor the men who wore 79 for the Chiefs, led by guard Dave Szott, original Texan Charlie Diamond and the late John Matuszak.

On this day in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married and nothing was ever the same again. March 20, 1928 brought the arrival of Fred Rogers, the man who was never afraid to pull a sweater out of the closet.

And sadly it was on this day in 1994 that humorist, author, stand-up comic, newspaper columnist Lewis Grizzard passed away from complications suffered in what was his fourth heart operation. Grizzard wrote from the perspective of a Southern born and breed man, who must have enjoyed the 1960s just a little bit too much. He was married four times, was a huge fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and even the title of his books were funny. My two favorites were: “My Daddy Was A Pistol And I’m A Son Of A Gun” and “Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night”.

Here are some of the best lines from Lewis Grizzard to get you through the day:

  • “If you eat something, but no one else sees you eat it, it has no calories.”
  • “If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look thinner.”
  • “Cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking the cookie causes calorie leakage.”
  • “Never order barbeque in a place that also serves quiche.”
  • “Why do service stations lock the bathroom door but leave the cash register unlocked?”
  • “If soccer was an American soft drink, it would be Diet Pepsi.”
  • “You know why they call it golf, don’t you? Because all the good four-letter words were already taken.”
  • “I get letters from people who say, ‘What have you got against women?’ What could I possibly have against women? I’ve married three of them.”
  • “I don’t think I’ll get married again. Every five years or so, I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.”

Here are some stories to enjoy while the boss isn’t looking. …Read More!

Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

It doesn’t happen very often, but there are moments when Bill Belichick let’s down the curtain and talks about his Patriots football team.

One of those times came on Thursday afternoon, when he spoke to Boston radio station WEEI on a variety of topics, including the trade of Matt Cassel to the Chiefs and whether he gave his former personnel man and BFF Scott Pioli a brother-in-law discount in the deal.

First, on whether the Denver Broncos offered him a first and third round picks for Cassel in a straight up deal, as some people have reported, Belichick said:

“They never made that offer to me.”

Belichick was asked whether getting a second-round pick from Cassel was his expectation when the off-season began.

“We put the franchise tag on Matt because we felt he had value to our football team and we wanted to protect that value,” Belichick said. “If that was with us, fine, and if it wasn’t, then that was an option too. We were prepared to have Matt on our team this year, and we would have welcomed that.

“By rule, you can’t trade a player who’s not under contract, and when we tendered Matt in early February, that didn’t give us the right to do anything. Now, in discussions with Matt and his representatives, he ended up signing a contract (at the end of the NFL Combine.) It was actually hand delivered by his representative. Once we had a signed contract in place, we could technically talk about trading him.

“So (trading Matt before he was under contract) wasn’t an option. We talked to some teams about Matt’s availability, and teams had contacted us. But again, because he wasn’t signed, we really couldn’t talk about that (a trade.) Once he was signed, we followed back up on some of that interest, and by the end of the week, we ended up getting the deal done with Kansas City. …Read More!

Belichick Speaks of Cassel Trade

On Thursday while he was on the road scouting college prospects, Patriots coach Bill Belichick took time to talk about the trade that sent QB Matt Cassel to the Chiefs.

One aspect Belichick addressed was whether he helped out his former workmate and friend Scott Pioli with a discount so the Chiefs could get Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel for a second-round  pick.

“Look, I have all the respect in the world for Scott Pioli,” Belichick said.  “He’s a great friend and he’s a terrific executive and personnel manager, but I work for the Patriots.  I have no loyalty to anybody or any team other than the New England Patriots. Everything I do is for our team to win and be successful and that’s what my commitment is.”

You can see  more of Belichick’s comments on the Cassel deal in the Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs.

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/19

It’s the 78th day of the year and in Chiefs history, the No. 78 belongs to Hall of Fame LB Bobby Bell. In fact, only one other player has ever worn that number for the Chiefs. Who was that player? Check out the answer below.

It was on this day in 1931 that gambling was legalized in the state of Nevada. Now, 78 years later we have Las Vegas and all its splendor, or excess, whatever view you may have.

And there were two other amazing sports accomplishments that came down on March 19. In 1954, Willie Mosconi set a world record by running 526 consecutive balls without a miss during an exhibition at the East High Billiard Club in Springfield, Ohio. That record still stands.

It was on this day in 1966 that Texas Western became the first college basketball team to win a national championship using five black players, as the Miners beat the University of Kentucky at College Park, Maryland.

Another trivia question: name the starter on that Texas Western team who was selected by the Chiefs in the draft? …Read More!

Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

When the NFL owners hold their annual March meetings next week in southern California, they will not have before them a proposal from the league’s Competition Committee on changes in overtime rules.

Let’s hope the owners simply go ahead and make the changes themselves.

“We think it still achieves its major goal, which is it breaks ties,” said Rich McKay, the co-chairman of the competition committee which just finished up meetings in Florida to consider possible changes to rules and regulations. “There’s just not enough support at this time to change it.”

The pro game does not need many changes; it’s a pretty well regulated game these days. But one area that needs change is overtime. After playing four quarters without deciding a winner, the current rules allow the situation where only one team could get a chance to win the game.

It would be a very simple alteration. If a team scores on the first possession of the extra period, the opposing team should be given a chance to score. If they tie the score, then the teams revert to the old rules of the next score wins the game. If the second team counters an opening possession field goal with a touchdown, then the second team wins. If the second team doesn’t score, the game is over. …Read More!

Bottom Of The Bird Cage 3/18

So here we are, dealing with a green hangover on the 77th day of the year. So here’s some aspirin and a pat on the back for those who wore No. 77 with the Chiefs, led by the late Jim Tyrer, Charlie Getty, Rich Baldinger and Willie Roaf.

Born on this day in 1909 was winemaker Ernest Gallo. He and his brother Julio helped lay the foundation for the American wine business in California. On this day in 1984, Charlie Lau died in Key Biscayne after a long bout with cancer. Lau was one of the most influential hitting coaches in baseball history and during his eight years with the Kansas City Royals (1971-78) he had a major effect on everyone from George Brett, to Willie Wilson, to Hal McRae and Amos Otis.

On this day in 1893, former Canadian Governor General Lord Stanley pledges to donate a silver challenge cup to be awarded to the best hockey team in Canada. Today, that trophy is known as the Stanley Cup.

One of the great traditions of the Stanley Cup is that each member of the winning team gets the Cup for one day. This has found the Cup in many strange places, including the bottom of several swimming pools. Once, it was left in a cab. Now, the NHL has someone travel with the cup at all times. That didn’t stop one player from having his child baptized in the cup.

From the New York Times: For Ben Woodside, who hit the shot that sent North Dakota State to its first N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament, a quick trip to Hornbacher’s Foods for milk and eggs turned into a 45-minute meet and greet. When Bison forward Brett Winkelman stopped in at the local Applebee’s over the weekend, he said half the diners recognized and congratulated him

And on Sunday night, about 2,000 people in green and gold Bison gear — more than the average crowd at a typical basketball game four years ago — spread across the bleachers at Bison Sports Arena to watch the N.C.A.A. tournament selection show on scoreboard video screens. The news that the Bison were heading down Interstate 94 to Minneapolis for a first-round game against Kansas, the defending national champion, brought the crowd to its feet in full-throated joy.

“Seems like wherever you go, people are getting behind us,” Winkelman said. “It feels like a dream and I don’t want to wake up yet.”

…Read More!

Wednesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

As Todd Haley was talking about the trio of unrestricted free agents the Chiefs announced on Tuesday, he referred again to a familiar refrain that we’ve heard since the first day Scott Pioli walked into the building back in mid-January.

“We are just going to say this over and over again, we are looking for guys who are all in, who want to be here,” Haley said. “Not talk about it, but actually want to be Kansas City Chiefs. The guys on our roster, free agents: we are looking for guys that want to be here.”

Now that the Chiefs have signed a handful of UFAs we are finally able to spot some common themes that cover Bobby Engram (right), Monty Beisel, Terrance Copper, Travis Daniels. C.J. Jones and Jon McGraw.

The key is this: they are all role players.

Haley mentioned that when he talked about the addition of Engram. The 36-year old will be playing in his 14th NFL season if he makes the Chiefs ’09 roster. Pioli and Haley were not interested in him because he remains fast or quick. They were interested in him because Haley sees a specific role for him in the offense.

“Bobby is a guy who knows how to be a pro, knows how to prepare, he’s been part of a winning team in Seattle over the last handful of years and he’s a smart player, who knows how to play specifically the slot position,” Haley said.

“That third down receiver takes a special makeup, because that particular player, the first ball he sees come his way may be in the third quarter. It may be in the second quarter, or it might not be until the fourth quarter. But it’s always going to be a critical ball to throw and a critical ball to catch. You don’t get quite as many opportunities.” …Read More!

The Legend

As I watched Len Dawson announce his non-retirement retirement Monday evening, I was reminded of another sporting legend.

In case you missed the news, Len said that come early April, he would be cutting back his hours at KMBC-TV, Channel 9 and would no longer handle the sports reports on the 6 and 10 o’clock newscasts.

“No, no I’m not retiring,” the 73-year old Dawson told viewers. “I’m too young to do that. But when you’ve been in this game (TV) for 43 years, for the first time in my adult life I’m going to down-size the work load that I have.”

Len’s announcement took me back several years ago when the U.S. Open golf tournament was at Oakmont Country Club in suburban Pittsburgh. Just a few minutes over hill and dale from the Oakmont course is Latrobe, home of Arnold Palmer. On the Tuesday of this Open week, Palmer was holding a clinic for junior golfers at the Latrobe Country Club course where he grew up. He now owns the course and lives there part of the year.

About a hundred junior golfers were there, accompanied by an equal number of fathers and grandfathers who were more excited than the kids. Palmer ran through the basics of golf and then asked if there were any questions. A lot of adults raised their hands, but Arnie asked first for questions from the kids.

Reluctantly, one youngster finally raised his hand and asked, “Mr. Palmer, where’s that tractor you ride in the commercial?”

Palmer roared with laughter and he sent someone to bring the tractor up from a barn. Yes, it was the same tractor he rode in those Pennzoil commercials and he posed for pictures and let the kids climb on the machine.

Those kids didn’t know Palmer as one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport. They knew him as the guy on television driving that old tractor.

There are a lot of youngsters – who I identify as anyone 30 or less – who know Len Dawson only as the guy who reads the sports on television and the guy who does radio on Chiefs games. …Read More!

Chiefs Sign Engram, Beisel & Copper

After being quiet for the first two weeks of free agency, the Chiefs are getting busy in the market for unrestricted free agents.

The team announced the addition of three new UFAs on Tuesday afternoon, pushing to five the new players they have signed out of the free agent pool.  The newest additions are:

WR Bobby Engram, a 13-year NFL veteran who is 36 years old and played last season for the Seattle Seahawks, where he has been since 2001.  Engram came into the league as a second-round choice of the Chicago Bears in the 1996 NFL Draft out of Penn State.  Over his career, he’s caught 645 passes for 7,690 yards and 35 TD passes.  He’s 5-10, 192 pounds.  Last season for the Seahawks, he was the team’s second leading receiver, catching 47 passes for 489 yards, but no touchdowns. The best season of his career came in 2007, when in 16 games he caught 95 passes for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns.

LB Monty Beisel, an eight-year NFL veteran who came into the league as a Chiefs fourth-round choice in 2001 NFL Draft. Beisel will be 31 in August and played last season with Arizona, including the four tackles he contributed on defense in the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh.  He played his first four seasons with the Chiefs, then left in free agency to sign with the New England Patriots where he played for a season (2005) and then landed with the Cardinals with 2006.  Over his career, Beisel has 111 tackles on special teams.  He played in all 19 games for Arizona last season, finishing the regular season with 10 tackles on defense and 19 tackles on offense, to rank No. 2 on the team.

WR Terrance Copper, a five-year veteran who turned 27 last week and played during the 2008 season with the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens.  The North Carolina native played at East Carolina and came into the NFL in 2004 as a college free agent with the Dallas Cowboys.  He’s 6-0, 207 pounds and has caught 46 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns.  Over his career, Copper has 41 tackles in the kicking game, along with 26 kickoff returns for a 19.3-yard average.   Last year, he played five games in New Orleans and two in Baltimore and had one special teams tackle.

All three players have connections to Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. Engram was with the Chicago Bears when Haley joined the team in 2001 as the wide receiver coach. Engram was released by Chicago before the start of the regular season. Beisel has played the last three years in Arizona, where Haley was the offensive coordinator the last two seasons. Copper broke into the NFL as a college free agent in 2004 with Dallas, where Haley was the wide receiver coach.

AFC UPDATE: Steelers Quiet; Broncos Loud

When you break down the player activity in the first three weeks of the NFL calendar, AFC teams have made more moves than NFC teams.

That’s especially true in the AFC West, where that division leads all divisions in bringing in unrestricted free agents from other teams. Denver leads the NFL with 14 UFA signings over the last 21 days. That activity has been forgotten in light of the problems with QB Jay Cutler.

The No. 2 division for UFA activity in the entire league is surprisingly the AFC East, a division that did not have a team with a losing record last year. Leading the charge there has been the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick is adjusting to life without his long-time personnel man Scott Pioli and he’s doing it by bringing in a lot of players.

Ranked in order of their finish last season, here’s what the AFC teams have been up to over the last three weeks.


AFC Teams

PITTSBURGH (AFC North champion/AFC Champion/NFL Champion, 12-4)

The Steelers have their way of doing things and that means little or no activity in signing players from other teams. As of March 20, Pittsburgh was one of four teams that has not signed a UFA. In fact, you can use the fingers of one hand to count the free agents that have come in for a visit. The most noteworthy was CB-Returner Chris Carr, who ended up signing in Baltimore. The Steelers interest in him probably had the Ravens overpaying for Carr.

They have lost one starter: CB Bryant McFadden, a former second-round pick. They made no attempt to re-sign him. They also lost backup safety Anthony Smith (Green Bay) and backup WR Nate Washington (Tennessee). Washington provided their offense with a speed element, but he has shown very inconsistent hands over his career.

Pittsburgh has been able to hold together its offensive line, such as it is. If there was one area where they were expected to be active among UFAs it would have been the blockers. They slapped a franchise player tag on LT Max Starks and they re-signed starting LG Chris Kemoeatu and backup tackle Trai Essex. They also got RT Willie Colon to sign his RFA tender offer, so he will be back.

This is how the black and gold roll and it’s hard to argue with their success.

BALTIMORE (Second place in NFC North, wildcard team advanced to AFC final, 11-5)

The Ravens are a team in transition right now. The Baltimore front-office has done a very good job over the years keeping the team in contender status, but that was always built on the defense. Now, the focus must shift to finding more weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco.

They lost center-guard Jason Brown (St. Louis), but replaced him with a better, if older player in Matt Birk (Minnesota). They added tight end L.J. Smith (Philadelphia), which should help the offense since it seems starting TE Todd Heap is always injured in some fashion.

On defense, they’ve got adjustments to make. Losing Bart Scott at one of the inside linebacker spot hurts not only now, but in the future. Ray Lewis is going to have to step up his play. The secondary has really been shuffled as CBs Chris McAlister (released), Samari Rolle (released) and Corey Ivy (Cleveland) are gone, as is safety Jim Leonhard (NY Jets).

Between now and the start of the season, they need to find some cornerbacks.

SAN DIEGO (First place team in AFC West, 8-8)

The Chargers have not reacted to their struggles last year by changing their approach. They have signed a single UFA in LB Kevin Burnett (Dallas). They lost one starter in DE Igor Olshansky, who the Chargers did not press to re-sign.

The biggest move they made was keeping LaDainian Tomlinson for at least another year. He’s at the end of his great career, but even 80 percent of L.T. is better than most of the backs in the league.

Healthy is what the Chargers need to do in the months before the season.

TENNESSEE (First-place team in the AFC South, 13-3)

The Titans have a big hole in the middle of their defense now, with DT Albert Haynesworth getting the giant UFA deal with Washington. They did sign Jovan Haye (Tampa Bay) to pick up some of the slack from losing Haynesworth. Last year, Haye started 15 games for the Bucs, providing 40 tackles and no sacks. Haynesworth had 75 total tackles and 8.5 sacks, along with four forced fumbles.

Otherwise, Tennessee has reacted in free agency. They lost WR Brandon Jones (San Francisco), they signed Nate Washington (Pittsburgh). They lost return man Chris Carr (Baltimore), they signed Carolina returner Mark Jones. At wide receiver, Washington is an upgrade as he caught more passes, for more yards and touchdowns last year than Jones. The return swap turns out pretty much even based on ’08 numbers.

MIAMI (First-place team in the AFC East, 11-5)

Offensive line was obviously a priority for the Dolphins, as they went out and added guard Joe Berger (Dallas) and center Jake Grove (Oakland). They lost a pair of secondary starters in Andre Goodman and Renaldo Hill (Denver). They added safety Gibrill Wilson (Oakland), to take Hill’s spot. Depth on the corner is now a concern.

INDIANAPOLIS (Second-place team in the AFC South, 12-4)

When needed in the past, the Colts have dipped into free agency. But that hasn’t happened this year, with the exception of re-signing center Jeff Saturday. Keeping the veteran snapper should be very good for the Indy offense.

Right now, they’ve lost only DT Darrel Reid (Denver), who contributed largely on special teams. …Read More!

NFC UPDATE: Cardinals Don’t Sit Still

The Arizona Cardinals enjoyed their most successful post-season run in 60 years in the 2008 NFL playoffs.

But they have not sat still because of their trip to the Super Bowl. It’s been a very active three weeks for the Cardinals, including finding new offensive and defensive coordinators. Both men are now with the Chiefs, in head coach Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Arizona has signed six UFAs, topped by cornerback Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh). The Cardinals key signing was keeping quarterback Kurt Warner and defensive end Bertrand Berry. With the exception of DE Antonio Smith (Houston), they have not lost any starters.

The NFC West has been the most active division in the NFC, signing 17 UFAs among the four teams.

Detroit with its new coaching staff has been very active, while Minnesota, Green Bay and Carolina have done the watching.

Ranked in order of their finish last season, here’s what the NFC teams have done over the last three weeks.


NFC Teams

ARIZONA (First-place in NFC West, NFC Champion, 9-7)

The Cardinals tied for the sixth best record in the conference and they cannot ignore that fact and their weak division when looking towards the future. They have to get better if they want to be an annual contender for the championship game.

Keeping Kurt Warner will help the offense continue to be productive, as long as they figure out some manner of making WR Anquan Boldin happy. RB Edgerrin James wants out and it makes sense to release him to help the Arizona salary cap.

They added RB Jason Wright (Cleveland) who will be able to handle the production lost when J.J. Arrington left (Denver). But they really don’t have another back to work with Tim Hightower right now. Figure they’ll be seeking a back fairly early in the NFL Draft.

Defensively, they signed Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh) to replace Eric Green (Miami).

PHILADELPHIA (Second-place in NFC East, advanced to NFC title game, 9-6-1)

Throughout their long stretch among the conference’s contender group, the Eagles have seldom relied on UFAs.

They’ve cherry-picked a few over the years, just as they’ve done this year with OT Stacy Andrews (Cincinnati) and safeties Rashad Baker (Oakland) and Sean Jones (Cleveland). Andrews replaces Tra Thomas (Jacksonville) and Baker/Jones replaced Brian Dawkins (Denver) and Sean Considine (Jacksonville). Baker and Jones are both five-year veterans and will be 27 this year. Dawkins is 35, with 13 years in the league, while Considine will be 28 and in his fifth year in ’09.

Offensively, the Eagles still need weapons, especially now that they’ve lost RB Correll Buckhalter (Denver), WR Greg Lewis (New England) and TE L.J. Smith (Baltimore).

CAROLINA (First-place in NFC South, 12-4)

The Panthers need to get better, but right now they have no room to maneuver. They spent hugely on re-signing LT Jordan Gross and by designating DE Julius Peppers their franchise player, they have that tender offer tied up under the salary cap. Peppers wants out, but the Panthers can’t trade him until he signs the tender offer and even if he does ink the one-year deal, it doesn’t mean Carolina has to pay him.

That’s why Carolina hasn’t signed a single player. They’ve lost some offensive line depth, with C Geoff Hangartner (Buffalo) and T Frank Omiyale (Chicago) leaving.

NEW YORK GIANTS (First-place in NFC East, 12-4)

A year removed from their Super Bowl season, the Giants decided to spend some money and they concentrated on their defense. By adding DT Rocky Bernard (Seattle), DE Chris Canty (Dallas) and OLB Michael Boley (Atlanta), New York’s front seven has talent and depth.

They kept RB Brandon Jacobs as the franchise player and a new deal; but backup Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay) left and the team needs to find somebody else to help Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

MINNESOTA (First-place in NFC North, 10-6)

The Vikings have really pulled in the money-line for the UFA market; they’ve signed just one player of note, CB Karl Paymah (Denver). The only other major addition was quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job.

Losing Matt Birk at center will be a problem; not so with Darren Sharper at safety. The veteran has lost his speed and play-making ability.

ATLANTA (First-place in NFC South, 11-5)

The Falcons defense has suffered some personnel losses in the UFA market, losing linebackers Michael Boley (NY Giants) and Keith Brooking (Dallas), CB Domonique Foxworth (Baltimore) and DT Grady Jackson (Detroit). Other than signing LB Mike Peterson (Jacksonville), Atlanta has not added much. …Read More!

Changes in the AFC East


Players Lost – CB Jabari Greer (New Orleans), LB Angelo Crowell (Tampa Bay).

Players Added – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Cincinnati), CB Drayton Florence (Jacksonville), C Geoff Hangartner (Carolina), WR Terrell Owens (Dallas), LB Pat Thomas (Kansas  City).

Free Agents Re-signed – T Kirk Chambers, RB Corey McIntyre

Players Released – G Derrick Dockery (Washington), TE Robert Royal (Cleveland).


Players Lost – CB Andre Goodman (Denver), S Renaldo Hill (Denver), C Al Johnson (New England).

Players Added – G Joe Berger (Dallas), CB Eric Green (Arizona), C Jake Grove (Oakland), S Gibril Wilson (Oakland), DT Tony McDaniel (trade w/Jacksonville).

Free Agents Re-signed – S Yeremiah Bell.

Players Released – DE Vonnie Holliday.


Players Lost – QB Matt Cassel (trade w/Kansas City), FB Heath Evans (New Orleans), WR Jabar Gaffney (Denver), LB Larry Izzo (NY Jets), WR C.J. Jones (Kansas City), RB LaMont Jordan (Denver), LS Lonnie Paxton (Denver), LB Mike Vrabel (trade w/Kansas City).

Players Added – TE Chris Baker (NY Jets), LB Tully Banta-Cain (San Francisco), CB Leigh Bodden (Detroit), WR Joey Galloway (Tampa Bay), TE Nathan Hodel (Arizona), C Al Johnson (Miami), WR Greg Lewis (trade w/Philadelphia), CB Shawn Springs (Washington), RB Fred Taylor (Jacksonville).

Free Agents Re-signed – LB Eric Alexander, OL Wesley Britt, P Chris Hanson, G Russ Hochstein, S James Sanders, S Ray Ventrone, S Tank Williams, DL Mike Wright.

Franchise Player – QB Matt Cassel (traded).

Players Released – WR Kelley Washington.

Coaching Changes – new offensive coordinator not named.


Players Lost – LB Eric Barton (Cleveland), WR Lavernaues Coles (Cincinnati), DT C.J. Mosley (Cleveland), K Mike Nugent (Tampa Bay), DB Hank Poteat (Cleveland), LB Cody Spencer (Detroit)

Players Added – DE Marques Douglas (Baltimore), DL Howard Green (Seattle), LB Larry Izzo (New England), S Jim Leonhard (Baltimore), LB Bart Scott (Baltimore), CB Lito Sheppard (trade w/Philadelphia).

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Ahmad Carroll, K Jay Feely, FB Tony Richardson, DB Abram Elam (matched RFA offer sheet from Cleveland.)

Players Released – TE Chris Baker (New England), LB David Bowens (Cleveland), DE Sean Conover, LB Brad Kassell, G Brandon Moore (re-signed).

Coaching Changes – new head coach in Rex Ryan and new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (Baltimore).

Changes in the AFC North


Players Lost – G Jason Brown (St. Louis), CB Corey Ivy (Cleveland), S Jim Leonhard (NY Jets), ILB Bart Scott (NY Jets).

Players Added – C Matt Birk (Minnesota), CB Chris Carr (Tennessee), CB Domonique Foxworth (Atlanta), TE L.J. Smith (Philadelphia).

Free Agents Re-signed – LB Ray Lewis, WR Marcus Maxwell.

Franchise Player – LB Terrell Suggs.

Players Released – LB Marques Douglas (NY Jets), CB Chris McAlister, CB Samari Rolle. 

Coaching Changes – New defensive coordinator Greg Mattison (Ravens in ’08).


Players Lost – T Stacy Andrews (Philadelphia), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seattle), LB Corey Mays (Kansas City).

Players Added – WR Laveranues Coles (NY Jets), QB J.T. O’Sullivan (San Francisco).

Free Agents Re-signed – R Cedric Benson, LB Darryl Blackstock, S Chris Crocker, RB DeDe Dorsey, CB Jamar Fletcher. 

Franchise Player – K Shayne Graham.

Players Released – G James Blair, CB Marcus Brown, DL Victor DeGrate, S Dexter Jackson.


Players Lost – CB Travis Daniels (Kansas City), LB Andra Davis (Denver), Te Darnell Dinkins (New Orleans), S Sean Jones (Philadelphia),TE Kellen Winslow (trade w/Tampa Bay), RB Jason Wright (Arizona), G Scott Young (Denver).

Players Added – LB Eric Barton (NY Jets), LB David Bowens (NY Jets), RB Noah Herron (NY Jets), CB Corey Ivy (Baltimore), DT C.J. Mosley (NY Jets), DB Hank Poteat (NY Jets), TE Robert Royal (Buffalo), OT John St. Clair (Chicago), OT Floyd Womack (Seattle).

Free Agents Re-signed – S Mike Adams.

Players Released – QB Ken Dorsey, WR Joe Jurevicius, OT Kevin Shaffer.

Coaching Changes – new head coach Eric Mangini, new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (NY Jets) and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (Oakland).


Players Lost – CB Bryant McFadden (Arizona), S Anthony Smith (Green Bay), WR Nate Washington (Tennessee).

Players Added – none.

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Fernando Bryant, OT Trai Essex,LB Andre Frazier, LB Arnold Harrison, G Chris Kemoeatu, TE Sean McHugh.

Franchise Player – T Max Starks.

Released – G Kendall Simmons.

Changes in the AFC South


Players Lost – S C.C. Brown (N.Y. Giants), QB Sage Rosenfels (trade w/Minnesota).

Players Added – QB Dan Orlovsky (Detroit), DE Antonio Smith (Arizona).

Free Agents Re-signed – WR David Anderson, TE Joel Dreesen, S Nick Ferguson, C Chris White, S Eugene Wilson.

Franchise Player – CB Dunta Robinson.

Players Released – S Will Demps, RB Ahman Green, LB Morlon Greenwood, WR Matt Jones, OT Ephraim Salaam, DE Anthony Weaver.

Coaching changes – new defensive coordinator Frank Bush (Texans in ’08).


Players Lost – DT Darrel Reid (Denver).

Players Added – None.

Free Agents Re-signed – LB Lance Ball, LB Buster Davis, CB Kelvin Hayden, C Jeff Saturday.

Released – WR Marvin Harrison

Coaching changes – new head coach in Jim Caldwell (Colts ’08) and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer (Tampa Bay).


Players Lost – OT Khalif Barnes (Oakland), DT Tony McDaniel (trade w/Miami), LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta), S Gerald Sensabaugh (Dallas), DE Paul Spicer (New Orleans) 

Players Added – S Sean Considine (Philadelphia), OT Tra Thomas (Philadelphia).

Free Agents Re-signed – C Brad Meester, CB Scott Starks, DE James Wyche.

Players Released – CB Drayton Florence (Buffalo), WR Matt Jones, WR Jerry Porter, DE Paul Spicer, RB Fred Taylor (New England)

Coaching changes – new defensive coordinator in Mel Tucker (Cleveland in ’08).


Players Lost – DB Chris Carr (Baltimore), DT Albert Haynesworth (Washington), WR Brandon Jones (San Francisco), DB Eric King (Detroit), OT Daniel Loper (Detroit), QB Chris Simms (Denver).

Players Added – DT Jovan Haye (Tampa Bay), RET Mark Jones (Carolina), WR Nate Washington (Pittsburgh).

Free Agents Re-signed – K Rob Bironas, QB Kerry Collins, DB Vincent Fuller, P Craig Hentrich, WR Justin McCareins.

Franchise Player – TE Bo Scaife.

Players Released – None.

Coaching changes – new defensive coordinator in Chuck Cecil (Titans ’08).

Changes in the AFC West


Players Lost – LB Niko Koutouvides (Tampa Bay), CB Karl Paymah (Minnesota), T Erik Pears (Oakland)

Players Added – RB J.J. Arrington (Arizona), RB Correll Buckhalter (Philadelphia), LB Andra Davis (Cleveland), S Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia), NT Ronald Fields (San Francisco), WR Jabar Gaffney (New England), CB Andre Goodman (Miami), S Renaldo Hill (Miami), RB LaMont Jordan (New England), DT J’Vonne Parker (Carolina), LS Lonnie Paxton (New England), DT Darrell Reid (Indianapolis), QB Chris Simms (Tennessee), G Scott Young (Cleveland).

Free Agents Re-signed – DT Kenny Peterson, TE Jeb Putzier.

Players Released – RB Anthony Alridge, CB Dre Bly, DE John Engelberger, RB Alex Haynes, TE Nate Jackson, LS Mike Leach, S Marquand Manuel, TE Chad Mustard, RB P.J. Pope, DT Dewayne Robertson, WR Clifford Russell, DT Josh Shaw, LB Jamie Winborn

Coaching changes – new head coach in Josh McDaniels (New England ’08), new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (San Francisco ’08) and new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (Carolina ’08).


Players Lost – LB Pat Thomas (Buffalo).

Players Added – LB Monty Beisel (Arizona), QB Matt Cassel (trade w/New England), WR Terrance Copper (Baltimore), WR Bobby Engram (Seattle), CB Travis Daniels (Cleveland), WR C.J. Jones (New England), LB Corey Mays (New England), LB Mike Vrabel (trade w/New England).

Free Agents Re-signed – S Jon McGraw.

Players Released – LS J.P. Darche, LB Donnie Edwards, QB Quinn Gray, QB Damon Huard (San Francisco), CB David Macklin, TE Michael Merritt, CB Patrick Surtain.

Coaching changes – new head coach in Todd Haley (Arizona ’08) and new defensive coordinator in Clancy Pendergast (Arizona ’08).


Players Lost – S Rashad Baker (Philadelphia), C Jake Grove (Miami).

Players Added – OT Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville), OT Erik Pears (Denver).

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Nnamdi Asomugha, G Cooper Carlisle, LB Isaiah Ekejiubah, DT William Joseph, P Shane Lechler, CB Justin Miller, TE Tony Stewart.

Players Released – WR Ronald Curry, DE Kalimba Edwards, FB Justin Griffith, T Kwame Harris, S Gibril Wilson (Miami).

Coaching changes – new offensive coordinator Ted Tollner (San Francisco ’08) and new defensive coordinator John Marshall (Seattle).


Players Lost – DE Igor Olshansky (Dallas).

Players Added – LB Kevin Burnett (Dallas).

Free Agents Re-signed – G Kynan Forney.

Franchise Player – RB Darren Sproles.

Players Released – Eldra Buckley (Philadelphia).

Changes in NFC East


Players Lost – G Joe Berger (Miami), LB Kevin Burnett (Dallas), DE Chris Canty (NY Giants), DB Anthony Henry (trade w/Detroit).

Players Added – LB Keith Brooking (Atlanta), QB Jon Kitna (trade w/Detroit), DE Igor Olshansky (San Diego), S Gerald Sensabaugh (Jacksonville),

Free Agents Re-signed – None.

Players Released – QB Brad Johnson, CB Adam Jones, WR Terrell Owens (Buffalo), S Roy Williams.


Players Lost – S James Butler (St. Louis), S Craig Dahl (St. Louis), DT Rodney Leisle (Arizona), RB Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay), DE Renaldo Wynn (Washington).

Players Added – DT Rocky Bernard (Seattle), LB Michael Boley (Atlanta), S C.C. Brown (Houston), DE Chris Canty (Dallas).

Free Agents Re-signed – none.

Franchise Player – Brandon Jacobs.

Players Released – RB Reuben Droughns, S Sammy Knight, CB Sam Madison.

Coaching changes – new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan (Giants).


Players Lost – RB Correll Buckhalter (Denver), S Sean Considine (Jacksonville), S Brian Dawkins (Denver), WR Greg Lewis (trade w/New England), CB Lito Sheppard (trade w/NY Jets), TE L.J. Smith (Baltimore), T Tra Thomas (Jacksonville)

Players Added – T Stacy Andrews (Cincinnati), S Rashad Baker (Oakland), RB Eldra Buckley (Philadelphia), S Sean Jones (Cleveland), FB Leonard Weaver (Seattle).

Free Agents Re-signed – LB Tank Daniels, CB Joselio Hanson.

Players Released – none.


Players Lost – DE Demetric Evans (San Francisco).

Players Added – G Derrick Dockery (Buffalo), DT Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee), P Dirk Johnson (Arizona), DE Renaldo Wynn (NY Giants).

Free Agents Re-signed – S Reed Doughty, LB Alfred Fincher, CB DeAngelo Hall, K Shaun Suisham.  

Players Released – RB Shaun Alexander, CB Shawn Springs (New England), LB Matt Sinclair, DE Jason Taylor, LB Marcus Washington


Changes in the NFC North


Players Lost – OT John St. Clair (Cleveland), OT John Tait (retired).

Players Added – S Josh Bullocks (New Orleans), T Frank Omiyale (Carolina).

Free Agents Re-signed – RB Kevin Jones.

Players Released – WR Marty Booker, S Mike Brown, B Gilbert Gardner, G Terrence Metcalf, LB Marcus Riley.


Players Lost – QB Jon Kitna (traded w/Dallas), FB Moran Norris (San Francisco), QB Dan Orlovsky (Houston), TE John Owens (Houston), DT Corey Redding (trade w/Seattle).

Players Added – CB Phillip Buchanon (Tampa Bay), TE Will Heller (Seattle), DB Anthony Henry (trade w/Dallas), DT Grady Jackson (Atlanta), WR Bryant Johnson (San Francisco), DB Eric King (Tennessee), OT Daniel Loper (Tennessee), RB Maurice Morris (Seattle), LB Julian Peterson (trade w/Seattle), LB Cody Spencer (NY Jets).

Free Agents Re-signed – RB Aveion Cason, G Damion Cook, K Jason Hanson, G Stephen Peterman.

Players Released – CB Leigh Bodden (New England), WR Mike Furrey, G Edwin Mulitalo, S Dwight Smith.

Coaching changes – new head coach in Jim Schwartz (Tennessee), new defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham (Kansas City) and Scott Linehan (St. Louis).


Players Lost – DT Colin Cole (Seattle).

Players Added – S Anthony Smith (Pittsburgh).

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Jarrett Bush (matched RFA tender offer from Tennessee), DE Mike Montgomery, LB Jason Hunter.

Players Released – None.

Coaching changes – new defensive coordinator in Dom Capers (New England).


Players Lost – C Matt Birk (Baltimore), S Darren Sharper (New Orleans)

Players Added – WR Glenn Holt, CB Karl Paymah (Denver), QB Sage Rosenfels (trade w/Houston).

Free Agents Re-signed – FB Heath Farwell, DT Jimmy Kennedy, TE Jim Kleinsasser, DE Jayme Mitchell, DB Benny Sapp.

Players Released – LB Vincenzo Ciurciu, QB Gus Frerotte, RB Maurice Hicks.

Changes in the NFC West


Players Lost – RB J.J. Arrington (Denver), LB Monty Beisel (Kansas City), CB Eric Green (Miami), LS Nathan Hodel (New England), P Dirk Johnson (Washington), DE Antonio Smith (Houston).

Players Added – TE Anthony Becht (St. Louis), DB Keith Lewis (San Francisco), LS Mike Leach (Denver), DT Rodney Leisle (New York Giants), CB Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh), RB Jason Wright (Cleveland).

Free Agents Re-signed – DE Bertrand Berry, OL Elton Brown, P Ben Graham, LB Clark Haggans, QB Brian St. Pierre, QB Kurt Warner.

Franchise Player – LB Karlos Dansby.

Coaching – new offensive coordinator Mike Miller and defensive coordinator Bill Davis, both were on Arizona staff last season.


Players Lost – TE Anthony Becht (Arizona), S Craig Dahl (NY Giants), C Nick Leckey (New Orleans), C Brett Romberg (Atlanta).

Players Added – G Jason Brown (Baltimore), S James Butler (NY Giants), FB Michael Karney (New Orleans).

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Ron Bartell, DE Eric Moore, OL Mark Setterstrom.

Franchise Player – S Oshiomogho Atogwe.

Players Released – WR Drew Bennett, S Corey Chavoius, QB Trent Green, WR Torry Holt, OT Orlando Pace.

Key Coaching Changes – new head coach Steve Spagnuolo (NY Giants), offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur (Philadelphia) and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole (Carolina).


Players Lost – DT Ronald Fields (Denver), WR Bryant Johnson (Detroit), QB J.T. O’Sullivan (Cincinnati).

Players Added – DE Demetric Evans (Washington), QB Damon Huard (Kansas City), WR Brandon Jones (Tennessee), FB Moran Norris (Detroit).

Free Agents Re-signed – CB Allen Rossum, LB Takeo Spikes.

Players Released – LB Tully Banta-Cain (New England), S Keith Lewis (Arizona).

Key Coaching Changes – new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye (NY Jets).


Players Lost – DT Rocky Bernard (NY Giants), WR Bobby Engram (Kansas City), DT Howard Green (NY Jets), TE Will Heller (Detroit), RB Maurice Morris (Detroit), OT Floyd Womack (Cleveland), LB Julian Peterson (trade w/Detroit), FB Leonard Weaver (Philadelphia).

Players Added – DT Colin Cole (Green Bay), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Cincinnati), TE John Owens (Detroit), DT Corey Redding (trade w/Detroit).

Free Agents Re-signed – LB D.D. Lewis, LB Lance Laury, OT Ray Willis.

Franchise Player – LB Leroy Hill.

Key Coaching Changes – new head coach in Jim Mora, Jr. (Seattle last year), offensive coordinator Greg Knap (Oakland) and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley (Tampa Bay).

Changes in the NFC South


Players Lost – OLB Michael Boley (N.Y. Giants), OLB Keith Brooking (Dallas), CB Domonique Foxworth (Baltimore), DT Grady Jackson (Detroit).

Players Added – LB Mike Peterson (Jacksonville), C Brett Romberg (St. Louis).

Free agents Re-signed – DE Chauncey Davis, LB Tony Gilbert, DT Jason Jefferson, G Ben Wilkerson, LB Coy Wire.

Franchise Player – P Michael Koenen.


Players Lost – C Geoff Hangartner (Buffalo), WR Mark Jones (Tennessee), T Frank Omiyale (Chicago), DT J’Vonne Parker (Denver).

Players Added – None.

Free Agents Re-signed – OT Jordan Gross.

Franchise Player – DE Julius Peppers.

Players Released – T Jeremy Bridges, RB Nick Goings, WR D.J. Hackett, CB Ken Lucas.

Coaching Changes – New defensive coordinator Ron Meeks (Indianapolis).


Players Lost – S Josh Bullocks (Chicago).

Players Added – TE Darnell Dinkins (Cleveland), FB Heath Evans (New England), CB Jabari Greer (Buffalo), C Nick Leckey (St. Louis), S Darren Sharper (Minnesota), DE Paul Spicer (Jacksonville).

Free Agents Re-signed – WR Devery Henderson, WR Courtney Roby, T Jon Stinchcomb, LB Jonathan Vilma.

Players Released – FB Michael Karney (St. Louis), RB Deuce McAllister, CB Mike McKenzie, WR David Patten.

Coaching Changes – New defensive coordinator Greg Williams (Jacksonville) and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. (with Saints in ’08).


Players Lost – CB Phillip Buchanon (Detroit), DT Jovan Haye (Tennessee), RB Noah Herron (Cleveland). 

Players Added – LB Angelo Crowell (Buffalo), LB Niko Koutouvides (Denver), K Mike Nugent (NY Jets), RB Derrick Ward (NY Giants), TE Kellen Winslow (trade w/Cleveland).

Free Agents Re-signed – S Will Allen, WR Michael Clayton, WR Cortez Hankton, S Jermaine Phillips, TE Jerramy Stevens.

Franchise Player – WR Antonio Bryant.

Players Released – LB Derrick Brooks, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Joey Galloway (New England), WR Ike Hilliard, LB Cato June.

Coaching Staff Changes – New head coach in Raheem Morris (Tamp Bay ’08), new offensive coordinator in Jeff Jagodzinski (Boston College) and defensive coordinator Jim Bates .

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/17

It’s the 76th day of the year and the only one where everybody is Irish for a day. A shamrock salute to those who wore No. 76 with distinction in the red and gold: Mo Moorman, John Alt, John Tait and others.

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, died on March 17 in either the year 461 or 493. That there is such a difference in the choices is a pretty good indication of the Irish ability to remember things. Hey, don’t get rash, half of the blood coursing through my veins is green. Let’s have a beer.

On March 17, 1776, the day that British forces under General Sir William Howe evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War, the password of the day at General George Washington’s Continental Army encampment was “Saint Patrick”. The date is observed as Evacuation Day, an official holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA. Massachusetts has the most Irish ancestry of the United States in terms of percentage of total population.

As you go through the day, skip the green beer and remember some of the great Irish toasts and sayings:

  • May you die in bed at ninety-five years, shot by a jealous husband (or wife).
  • Here’s to a long life and a merry one, a quick death and an easy one, a pretty girl and an honest one, a cold beer – and another one!
  • An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth.
  • There are many good reasons for drinking, one has just entered my head. If a man doesn’t drink when he’s living, how in the hell can he drink when he’s dead?

From the Denver Post:
And on the first day at Dove Valley without Jay Cutler, the Broncos began talking about their star quarterback in the past tense. “You knew he was a great competitor,” Broncos receiver Eddie Royal said. “You always saw it in his eyes that he wanted to win. He came to practice prepared every day. You knew what you were getting out of Jay.”

Royal followed up by saying he didn’t mean to imply the Broncos quarterback has already left the building. But Cutler’s permanent departure is becoming more likely after he was not in the building at 8 a.m. Monday when Josh McDaniels led his first team meeting as Broncos head coach.

…Read More!

Tuesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

His name is DeMaurice Smith.  Until Monday, there’s very little chance even the most devoted football fan had any idea about this man.

But right now he looms on the horizon as one of the most important people in pro football.

Using a box from a pair of Reebok shoes to hold the secret ballots, the NFL Players Association elected Smith their new executive director on Sunday night in Maui.

As the replacement for the late Gene Upshaw, this 45-year old Washington attorney walks into a potential volatile situation as the NFL owners and players face a season without a salary cap in 2010 before the current agreement between the parties expires.

Smith did not waste any time, as he spoke by phone with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, put together a transition team and spoke on a conference call with reporters.

“This is a tremendous game and the men who play it sacrifice, they know about team, they know about honor, they know about duty,” Smith said. “It’s a pleasure to be around men who know that and live that every day. At the same time, the game is bigger than them.”

If there should be a labor action in 2011 it won’t be because of the players, said Smith. He’s hoping negotiations can avert an owners’ lockout of the players.

“There are people in American who rely on those game-day checks in the same way these men rely on those (game) checks,” said smith. “From the people who park the cars in the stadium, to the people who are working the concessions, to the people who support this game in each and every way; I don’t want a lockout for our men. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/16

It’s the 75th day of the year, with acknowledgement to those who wore No. 75 for the Chiefs over the years, led by the late Jerry Mays, Joe Phillips, Irv Eatman and the forgettable Chester McGlockton.

Forget history, all anybody cares about this morning are their brackets for March Madness and the NCAA tournament. Where are the upsets, who can advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

After years of filling out brackets, sometimes successfully, here’s a few things to remember: Cinderella lives among seeds #10 through #12; don’t pick a No. 16 seed to win, it’s never happened; pick the first 32 winners and then work your bracket from the top down, meaning pick the national champion and go backwards from there; remember, last year is the only time that the four No. 1 seeds all made the Final Four.

Always be prepared to finish behind the receptionist who made her picks based on team mascots.

Here’s some good stuff from over the weekend.

From the Miwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Though it has been a typically quiet free agency period for (Green Bay Packers GM Ted) Thompson, he told the Fan Fest crowd that he tried to make some moves in free agency, which drew a lukewarm response. “There were a few things that we tried that were a little crazy that just didn’t work out,” Thompson said. “We don’t keep score in free agency; a lot of the media seems to try to keep score. I think our main focus is the offseason program and the guys we have on our team.”

Apparently content with the current roster and its potential along with the prospects in the upcoming draft, Thompson also said he didn’t think he had to drastically alter his evaluation process to find the ideal linemen and linebackers to fit his new 3-4 defense. “No. Football players are football players at the end of the day,” Thompson said. “The 3-4 is a basic scheme alignment in our base defense but our good football players will be good football players in this. That’s the whole thing, whether it’s drafting or free agency or trades or retaining your own guys, you just want to get as many good football players as you can and that will take care of itself. I’m a big fan of this scheme. I played in the 3-4 defense and it does allow you more flexibility, and we’re looking forward to it.”

(Head coach Mike) McCarthy said the Packers’ inactivity in the free-agent market – their lone signing was Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith – shouldn’t be mistaken for complacency. “We were 6-10 last year for a reason,” he said.

…Read More!

Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Around the Chiefs, there are no soap operas currently on the play list. Oh, there are some that may come soon, starring the likes of Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez and Brian Waters.

But as NFL teams are allowed to begin their off-season conditioning programs on Monday, the AFC West is again rife with unhappiness. While the A.J. Smith-L.T. feud in San Diego has been put aside for now, the same cannot be said for family feuds in Oakland and Denver.

The new face-off is the one between Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels and Denver quarterback Jay Cutler (right). The old favorite is the one between Al Davis and his former head coach Lane Kiffin. Both will have new chapters on Monday.

Let’s start in Denver. On Monday morning at 8 o’clock Denver time, McDaniels has his first team meeting scheduled with the Broncos. It’s considered mandatory attendance for all returning players. All the Denver scribblers, talkers and mini-cams will be at Broncos headquarters to see if the quarterback shows up.

He won’t be there.  Cutler’s agent Bus Cook asked the team Sunday night to trade his client.  Cutler wants out.

“I would like to talk to Jay before we go on and start to discuss some other type of alternative,” McDaniels said Sunday night to the Denver Post. “In the last couple weeks, we’ve been all about trying to communicate and resolve his unhappiness with what happened – which we understand – and that’s been our direction.”

It doesn’t look good.

“I’m very disappointed,” Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said Sunday night to the Post. “I’m disappointed in the whole picture, not just disappointed that we might lose our star quarterback.”

This all stems from the Broncos engaging in trade talks for Cutler over two weeks ago. In just the last seven days here’s what has happened in the situation: …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/15

It is the Ides of March on this 74th day of the year, as we mention on this Selection Sunday great 74s of the Chiefs past, led by Jerry Cornelison in the 60s, Tom Keating in the 70s, Dino Mangiero in the 80s, Derrick Graham in the 90s and Kyle Turley in the 00s.

On this day in 1985, the first Internet domain name was registered to Yes, it’s still there. It was on March 15, 44 B.C. that Caeser was assassinated by a group of Roman senators. And on March 15, actor Judd Hirsch was born in the Bronx. He would go on to star in many movies, plays and TV series, the best being Taxi. One of the most under-rated sitcoms in TV history, Taxi featured Hirsch as New York taxi driver Alex Reiger, Danny DeVito as cab dispatcher Louie DePalma and assorted others like Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kauffman.

Taxi was on for six years (1978-83) and gave us great characters like Lloyd as Reverend Jim Ignatowski and Kauffman as immigrant mechanic Latka Gravas. In a flashback, Latka explains to his mother why he wanted to emigrate to America:

Latka: In America, a man can become another O.J. Simpson!

Greta Gravas: Who is O.J. Simpson?

Latka: The JUICE!

Remember, this was right around 1980.

On to more recent news

From Washington Post columnist John Feinstein: Finally, tonight, shortly after 6 o’clock, the speculation will end. There will be no more questions about who is in or who is out of the NCAA tournament and the self-declared bracketologists can climb back under their rocks until next winter.

If you believe all the huffing and puffing, this is not going to be a good year for the mid-majors. The reasoning goes something like this: Because so few of the so-called bubble teams from the so-called power conferences have truly distinguished themselves and because there aren’t as many no-brainer mid-majors out there, the basketball committee will have no choice but to take all the mediocre bubble teams from the mediocre major conferences. Sadly, they’re probably right.

…Read More!

Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

So what can we expect to see from the Chiefs defense under the direction of Clancy Pendergast?

That’s a damn good question.

Since it’s taken more than a month for the Chiefs to get around to making him the coordinator, it may be that long before we get an idea of just what the plans are for the defensive scheme. The current trend in the league is moving towards the 3-4, and there are a lot of teams that are using both a 3-4 and 4-3. To pull off that kind of flexibility would seem to require a defensive group that has played together and is comfortable with the coaching staff and schemes. That does not match up with the Chiefs situation, so it will be interesting to see what this new staff tries to do with the attack.

All we really have to go on with Pendergast (left) is to take a look at the five years where he was the coordinator of the Arizona defense, first for Dennis Green and then for Ken Whisenhunt. Reportedly Whisenhunt wanted to make a change on defense when he took over before the 2007 season, but management made clear that one of the conditions of him getting the job was keeping Pendergast. The Super Bowl appearance apparently gave Whisenhunt enough juice to finally pull the trigger on his defensive coordinator.

Last year, the strength of the Cardinals team that went to the Super Bowl was the offense coordinated by Haley, directed by Kurt Warner and performed by the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The offense was fourth in overall yardage, second in passing yardage and last in the league in rushing yardage. The offense scored 45 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Cardinals were not as good. Here’s how they fared in eight key defensive categories. …Read More!

Pendergast Will Be Chiefs Defensive Coordinator

Although there remains a chance that former Cleveland head coach and New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel could help the Chiefs coaching staff in 2009, Todd Haley went ahead and named Clancy Pendergast as the team’s defensive coordinator.

The move was formally announced Friday afternoon. Pendergast worked with Haley last year as they were the coordinators of the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. There had been conversations with Crennel about coming in and running the defense, but he’s recovering from hip surgery. Taking a coordinator’s role may have been more than he could handle right now as he rehabs the hip.

Pendergast has coached in the NFL for 14 seasons, with the last five at Arizona as the defensive coordinator. He was hired by Dennis Green in 2004 and was one of just two coaches retained when Ken Whisenhunt took over the team in 2007.

Before that, Pendergast was the linebackers coach at Cleveland under Butch Davis (2003), seven years with Dallas (1996-02) with four seasons working with the linebackers for Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey and then three years working with the secondary under Dave Campo. He began his pro football coaching career as a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Houston Oilers in 1995 under Jeff Fisher.

Before joining the Oilers, he has four seasons coaching in the college ranks at Mississippi State, Southern Cal and Oklahoma.

Here’s how his Arizona defenses have ranked over the last five seasons: …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/13

It’s the 72nd day of the year, with special recognition for guys wearing No. 72 over the years with the Chiefs, including one of the original Texans, defensive tackle Paul Rochester.

On March 13, 1969 there was an IPO (initial public offering of stock) in a company from the state of Washington called Microsoft. It opened at $21 per share and closed that first day at just under $28 per share. Taking into account the nine stock splits that have happened in the last 40 years, the initial closing price was 9.7 cents. The stocks highest mark came in 1999 when it peaked at $119 per share, or factored with stock splits, $60.93 per share.

Eventually, going public would create four billionaires among Microsoft employees and 12,000 millionaires. Bill Gates, one of the company founders is estimated to have a personal fortune in excess of $40 billion, taking into account the current downturn in the economy. Paul Allen, the other founder is worth $10.5 billion and owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

A couple comments from the Gates’ file that prove while he may have been smart, he was not necessarily gifted with clairvoyance:

  • “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
    – Gates in 1981
  • The Internet? We are not interested in it”
    – Gates in 1993

From the Syracuse Post-Standard: They sat in a somewhat stunned Syracuse locker room, too tired to do much but marvel at the moment. Arinze Onuaku checked his phone, where 35 messages awaited his attention. Andy Rautins at in a corner and iced his knees. Every Syracuse player kept trying to put into words the astonishing event he had just witnessed in Madison Square Garden.

Six overtime periods. Moments of certain victory, speared by moments of certain defeat. A 3-point shot that seemingly won the game for SU, but was overturned on appeal. Jonny Flynn’s 67 minutes of game action; his 34 points and 11 assists. Andy Rautins’ clutch 3-pointer that rescued the Orange from sure defeat in the first overtime. Rick Jackson’s slam that necessitated another OT. Paul Harris’s 29 points and 22 rebounds. All the free throws, 93 in total.

…Read More!

Chiefs Add Another Free Agent

The Chiefs announced on Friday that they had agreed to terms free agent linebacker Corey Mays.

In three NFL seasons, Mays has played in 32 games with one start in three seasons with New England (2006-07) and Cincinnati (2007-08).

He would have been a restricted free agent this season, but the Bengals did not retain their rights to him with a tender offer and he became a free agent with no compensation issues.

At 6-1, 245 pounds, Mays has largely been a special teams player, and he’s done that duty quite well, producing 38 tackles in the kicking game. He will be 26 years old in late November. The Chicago native played at Notre Dame where he appeared n 46 games for the Fighting Irish. He was the team’s starting middle linebacker as a senior and had 12 tackles and a sack in his final college game in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

Mays signed as a college free agent with the Patriots, was released on the final cutdown and was added to the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster for the final eight games and contributed to New England’s efforts in the ’06 post-season.

In ’07 he went to camp with the Patriots and made the opening day roster. But he was released on October 1 and claimed on waivers by the Bengals. He appeared in 11 games with Cincinnati in ’07 and followed that up with 12 games in ’08.

Last year he contributed five tackles and one forced fumble to the Bengals defense and 13 tackles in the kicking game.


Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

The Chiefs best draft choice over the five-year period of 1998-2002  retired on Thursday.

John Tait has submitted his retirement paperwork to the league office and will not return to the Chicago Bears for the 2009 season.

That’s a big loss for the Bears, where Tait has been a reliable, if not sensational blocker for the last five years. Tait has not commented publicly, but he’s told teammates that nagging ankle injuries have made continuing to play too painful. There’s always the chance he could change his mind, but he’s made his decision and walked away from a base salary of $4.8 million for the 2009 season.

Thus ends a 10-year career that began when Tait was the Chiefs first-round selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. Starting in 1998 with Victor Riley and running through 2002 in Ryan Sims, there’s no question Tait was the best first-round choice made by the Chiefs. The other first rounder was Sylvester Morris.

But it wasn’t just the first round. In those five drafts, the Chiefs selected 35 players. Eric Warfield from ’98, Greg Wesley and Dante Hall from ’00 and Scott Fujita in ’02 all played a lot of games for the Chiefs. But none played as well as Tait did during his five years with the team, and then his half-decade in the Windy City.

Tait’s arrival in Kansas City and his departure to Chicago became big stories because of contract negotiations with the Chiefs that were emotional and complicated. …Read More!

Bottom of Bird Cage 3/12

It’s Day No. 71 of the year, and hooray to the men who wore 71 for the Chiefs over the years, including Ed Budde, along with Dave Lindstrom and Tom Barndt.

On March 12, 1955 Charlie Parker died in New York from pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer, which were all exacerbated by his drug and alcohol abuse. The Bird was just 34 years old. Despite the fact he never wanted to see his hometown again, Parker’s body was returned to Kansas City for burial.

And on March 12, 1987, famed Ohio State football coach Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes passed away in Columbus. He was 74. Over his career with the Buckeyes he was 205-61-10, with five national championships. Woody was an irascible old bastard, even when he was still in his 30s. He left behind some of the great coaching lines in sports history:

  • “So many times I’ve found people smarter than I was … But you know what they couldn’t do? They couldn’t outwork me. They couldn’t outwork me!”
  • “Anything easy ain’t worth a damn!”
  • “To hell with exciting. I’d rather be drab as hell and win.”
  • When asked why he went for two despite a 36-point lead against arch-rival Michigan, Hayes quipped, “Because I couldn’t go for three.”
  • “Without winners, there wouldn’t even be any god damned civilization.”
  • “Football represents and embodies everything that’s great about this country, because the United States of America is built on winners, not losers or people who didn’t bother to play.”

Long live Woody. …Read More!

Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

We are now 45 days away from the opening round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

And at this time there is only one thing that is apparent: the starting path of this draft remains a very big mystery.

Detroit has the first pick, St. Louis is next and then the Chiefs. It’s almost impossible to say with any certainty what names will be linked to those picks and those teams on April 25

There are new people in place making the decisions at all three teams. Each club has a new head coach, with changes in offensive and defensive systems. Each of those clubs needs talent all over the roster. There is no history to fall back on with these teams, no previous drafts to provide a clue. It’s not Matt Millen in Detroit or Carl Peterson in Kansas City. The committee that seemed to make every decision in St. Louis has been broken up.

Here is information and speculation on those top three picks: …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/11

This would be the 70th day of the year, so we pause for remembering the 70s who played for the red and gold who include Marcus Spears, Jim Nicholson and our personal favorite, Jim Rourke, an offensive guard from the 1980s.

It was on March 11, 1942 that General Douglas McArthur abandoned the Philippines island of Corregidor because of Japanese attacks, one of the great American defeats of World War II.

On March 11, 1955 Oskar Ferdinand Mayer died. This German-born butcher set up a meat market in Chicago with his brother and before long they were releasing Oscar Mayer meats, which became a multi-million dollar business, but also brought us one of the great American iconic symbols: the Weinermobile.

A month ago the Weinermobile skidded off an icy highway just south of Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The two women drivers used their cell phones to call for help, as they were unable to get the vehicle back on the road.

With the help of a tow truck, the Weinermobile was back on highway. Here are the last few lines of the story of the accident that appeared in the Elmira Star Gazette newspaper:

Kurzejewski hooked up and Emily fired up the highway hot dog, and a few well-timed tugs later, the Wienermobile was back on the highway. For Kurzejewski, veteran of hundreds of tows over the years, Sunday’s experience was a new one.

“I’ve pulled out a lot of vehicles,” he said. “But that’s the first wiener I’ve ever pulled out.”

It was a first for the women, too. They left none the wurst for wear.

“Usually we try to keep from scratching our buns,” Goudie said. “But sometimes, things go wrong.”

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.  Or, the stories that follow. …Read More!

Wednesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

A pair of AFC West soap operas took interesting turns on Tuesday.

Way out west there is relief in S.D. because L.T. is staying.

In Denver, there’s apparently plenty of pouting still going on.


After a lot of messy commentary back-and-forth in the SoCal media, the Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson finally worked out a new deal that will give San Diego some salary cap relief.

So L.T. will remain part of the Chargers for at least one more season.

“This is a good day for the Chargers and for Chargers fans,” team president Dean Spanos said on the Chargers’ website. “It was important to me to get this done so LT could continue his career here in San Diego where he means so much to our team, our fans and our community. The alternative was just unthinkable. He belongs in San Diego.”

Terms of the new deal were not released. But NFL sources say that Tomlinson will get the $6.725 million he was scheduled for in 2009. Some of that money will be structured as a signing bonus, providing some cap relief. He was due more than $17 million in 2010-11, and that money has been re-worked.

“I love San Diego and being a part of this team with my teammates,” Tomlinson said on the Chargers website. “My number one priority was to stay here in San Diego. I truly believe this is the place that gives me the best chance to be successful and win a championship. I want to finish the job we started when I got here eight years ago. My heart has always been in San Diego. I couldn’t imagine putting on another uniform.” …Read More!

Chiefs Sign UFA Travis Daniels

The Chiefs have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent cornerback Travis Daniels.

At 6-1, 195 pounds, Daniels has played four seasons in the NFL, with his first three years in Miami and last season with the Cleveland Browns. In 51 games, with 26 starts, he has 126 tackles, three interceptions and two fumbles recovered. Daniels originally entered the league as a fourth-round choice (104th overall) of the Dolphins in the 2005 NFL Draft.

A native of Hollywood, Florida, Daniels was a two-year starter and four-year letterman at LSU, appearing in 33 games with 26 starts. He started all 14 games as a junior in 2003 when LSU won a national championship. Also on that team were Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and center Rudy Niswanger.

After two seasons in Miami, Daniels was traded last August to the Browns in exchange for a seventh-round draft choice. During the ’08 season in Cleveland, Daniels played in seven games, with one start at right cornerback on November 17 against Buffalo. He was inactive for the last six games of the Browns. Overall, he contributed one tackle on defense and three tackles on special teams.

Daniels will be 27 years old in September.

Taking Chance

If you’ve spent much time on this site you know we don’t venture too far afield from the world of sports, and football in particular. It’s what we know, the business that has been part of my life for over 30 years now, so it’s comfortable and stable ground.

But every once in awhile the real world knocks on the window and can’t be ignored.

This happened the other night when the body craved sleep but the mind wasn’t ready to shut down for the day. That’s when I found the HBO movie Taking Chance.

If you have HBO, make this movie appointment television. Crank up the TiVo or DVR. Just do not miss this short, but powerful movie. If there’s no access to HBO, then be prepared in May when it’s released on DVD. It will be worth the investment.

Taking Chance is based on the first-person narrative of Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl as he accompanied the body of 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, USMC, to his hometown and final resting place of Dubois, Wyoming. Phelps was killed in Anbar Provence in Iraq on Good Friday in April 2004.

Kevin Bacon (right) portrays Strobl. This is a true story.

This is not a political movie. It’s not pro-war or anti-war, although the story of a vital young man losing his life thousands of miles from home will always leave questions in your mind about the incredible price of war.

The story line is simple: a Marine takes a fallen comrade’s body back to his family. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/10

It’s Day No. 69 for the year and we celebrate the men who wore 69 for the red and gold, led by the late Sherrill Headrick, as well as Jared Allen, Jeff Criswell and Greg Meisner.

Born on March 10, 1946 was basketball coach Jim Valvano. During the spring of 1988, I spent a day with Valvano as he went through his duties as both athletic director and head coach at North Carolina State. I met him in the parking lot as he pulled up in a cherry red Mercedes convertible, the top down and he was singing loudly to a song on the radio.

A Jimmy V story that he liked to tell. He was having a hard time with an official during the game, and had already been slapped with one technical. When the calls continued to go against him, he walked up to the official during a timeout and asked “Can I get a technical for what I’m thinking?” The official looked at him and said “No.” “OK,” said Valvano. “Then I think you suck.”

As he was dying from cancer in 1993, Valvano spoke at the ESPY Awards show in one of those television moments that will be replayed forever. The most emotional and educational portion of that speech was this:

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

What’s ahead may make you laugh, I doubt it will make you cry and hopefully it will allow you to think.

From the North County Times: With less than two months left until the draft, the evaluation process is roughly 90 percent complete. Prospects are being whittled down to a select few and the Chargers clearly have their favorites picked out. Names, however, aren’t being volunteered. “I like them all,” said Jimmy Raye, the Chargers’ director of player personnel. “How’s that for specifics?”

…Read More!

Tuesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

This is not another story about Terrell Owens.

His name is plugged in here only to provide juxtaposition to a story involving another man whose career was built on his ability to catch the football.

Owens got a new home and $6.5 million guaranteed from the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

On Sunday, Charlie Joiner got something of greater value. If this was a Mastercard commercial, this would be the place where the announcer voice would say: priceless.

The former receiving great and Chiefs assistant coach received a replica bronze bust from the Pro Football Hall of Fame to replace the one that was destroyed when Joiner’s home burned to the ground in a runaway southern California wildfire in October of 2007.

Joiner got the bust and other memorabilia Sunday night when he was honored as the Junior Seau Foundation’s Legend of the Year. It’s all part of a weekend full of activities that finished up on Monday with a golf tournament in San Diego.

The highlight came Sunday night when Joiner received his replacement bust from Hall of Fame officials at a party held at Seau’s Restaurant.

“They did a good job of hiding that from me,” said Joiner, who spent seven years at Arrowhead Stadium on the Chiefs coaching staffs for Dick Vermeil and Herm Edwards. He was released after the ’07 season and returned to the Chargers, where he spent most of his playing career. For Norv Turner, he handles the wide receivers.

“I was happy to see the bust,” Joiner added. “I love the bust. That’s the symbol of the Hall of Fame.” …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/9

It’s the 68th day of the year and thus we honor the greats to wear No. 68 for the Chiefs, led by future Hall of Famer Will Shields.

On March 9, 1862 the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia fight to a draw in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first engagement between these iron-clad warships. On March 9, 1959, the Barbie doll makes its debut. Little girls, and some little boys, were never the same.

Born on March 9, 1918 was American crime-novel author Mickey Spillane, who created the trashy detective novel with his signature character Mike Hammer. Before he died in 2006, Spillane had written seven of the top 15 all-time, best-selling fiction titles. Celebrating a birthday today and his new contract is Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who was born on March 9, 1961.

And it was on March 9, 1996 that George Burns passed away after turning 100. In that time, he threw many a punch line. Here are some of his best:

  • A good sermon should have a good beginning and a good ending and they should be as close together as possible.
  • It only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I don’t remember if it’s the 13th or 14th.
  • First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and then finally, you forget to pull it down.
  • Happiness is a good martini, a good meal, a good cigar and a good woman… or a bad woman, depending on how much happiness you can stand.

Say good night Gracie. …Read More!

Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

I have a friend of mine whose first exposure to Buffalo was the weekend when the Chiefs played the Bills in the 1993 AFC Championship Game.

We were out walking the streets of downtown Buffalo, where the snow was stacked up on the sidewalks like waist-high white walls. We came around a corner and a cold wind right out of the Artic came blowing down the street. He still shivers at the thought. His nightmares look like the picture on the right, taken during a blizzard 30 years ago.

This is where Terrell Owens has landed in an attempt to salvage his career. Buffalo. With the Bills, for a one-year deal worth reportedly $6.5 million.

As Owens joking said Saturday night, he went from America’s team to North America’s team. Remember the Bills are playing several games a year now in Toronto, largely because it opens up a growing market to them.

Buffalo is not a growing market. Hasn’t been for 30 years. From Hamburg, to Lackawanna, to Cheektowaga, to Amherst, to North Tonawanda to Lockport, the heart of western New York has been shrinking for years. The last time the area gained population was 1950. That year the U.S. Census said Buffalo had a population of 580,132. The estimated 2008 population based on census projections is 276,648. That ranks 69th among American cities. Anchorage, Alaska is 66th with seven thousand more people.

The Bills have trouble selling tickets and have for many years. Nobody can sell tickets on game day like they can in Buffalo. Because it’s been a economically distressed town for so long, people wait until the last minute to buy tickets. That’s one of the reasons the team has gone to Toronto to play games.

And another big reason that T.O. has found a new home. His agent Drew Rosenhaus said there were several teams interested in Owens. But his quick signing with the Bills is a pretty good indication that on Saturday, his only firm offer was with Buffalo. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/8

This weekend ranks as one of the slower times on the sporting calendar.

Pro hockey and basketball are moving without much excitement to the playoffs. College basketball is a week away from conference tournament action and 10 days away from the start of true March madness.

Baseball is trying to get pitchers and hitters into shape with meaningless games.

And there is no football on the field to entertain us.

But there is always football off the field at this time of the year, and thus we have this weekend’s edition of droppings from the bottom of the bird cage.

From the Los Angeles Times:
(T.J.) Houshmandzadeh signed with Seattle this week, picking the Seahawks over the Minnesota Vikings. And check out the lengths the Seahawks went — above and beyond a five-year, $40-million contract — to convince him he was their guy.

First, they dispatched one of the jets belonging to Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft mega-billionaire, to pick up Houshmandzadeh and his wife and kids in Los Angeles and fly them to Seattle. Then, once the family arrived, they hopped on Allen’s seaplane for a tour of the city, including a pass over Qwest Field, where the scoreboard was lighted with a shot of the receiver and his career stats.

Also onboard the seaplane were Seahawks Coach Jim Mora, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and a couple of Seattle defensive backs, who, Mora joked, “didn’t want to have to cover T.J. if he went to the Vikings.” After the hour-long tour, the plane swooped down and landed on Lake Washington, directly in front of the Seahawks’ massive new training facility, where Houshmandzadeh got a full-court-press sales pitch about how he would be featured in next season’s offense.

…Read More!

Bills Sign T.O.

Maybe it’s the fact that owner Ralph Wilson is in his 90s and wants to see a championship team before he passes. Maybe it’s the fact the Bills have a lot of seats to sell in a severely economically depressed area.

For some reason, the Buffalo Bills decided they needed Terrell Owens. The wide receiver signed a one-year contract with the Bills and was introduced in a hastily press conference early Saturday evening in Buffalo.

The deal will bring Owens $6.5 million in guaranteed dollars.

“I’m leaving America’s team [for] North America’s team,” Owens said Saturday night in Buffalo.

“I must move on, and it’s another beginning for me,” Owens said. “If I can be that extra added piece to get them to the playoffs, then that’s what I’m here for. I looked at the defensive side of ball and offensive side of the ball, and these guys have all the pieces.”

In fact, Owens thinks the Bills are a very good fit for him.

“This is an opportunity,” said Owens. “It’s an interesting situation. No matter what uniform I put on, I perform, so it’s not a matter of what tipped the scale. It could be money, it could be this, you never know. I will say that it’s an opportunity.

“I saw how the Bills started last year and they made some eyes open last year, so if I can be that extra added piece to the puzzle to get them to the playoffs and make something happen, then that’s what I’m here for.”

Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

The local media, and most especially the local fish wrap, have gone out of their way to demonize Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser since he took office in 2007.

None of that made the sports shows and section until this week.

Now, the boys in the toy department are unsheathing their swords and taking pokes at Mayor Funk.

On Thursday, Funkhouser submitted his plan for cleaning up the financial problems facing Kansas City. There’s an $85 million shortfall in the next city budget. One of the mayor’s proposals is for the city to stop kicking in $2 million a year for the Truman Sports Complex.

The lease for the Royals and the Chiefs says there will be $7 million paid each year to help with the upkeep of the stadiums. It has been $2 million from the city, $3 million from Jackson County and $2 million from the state of Missouri.

It’s hard to get a straight answer out of all the parties involved, but apparently the contribution from the city is a handshake agreement with the county, one started by Mayor Kay Barnes back in 2006 when Jackson County voters passed a sales tax increase to pay for renovations at both buildings. That’s also when both teams signed long-term leases to stay in the stadiums.

In essence, there’s nothing in writing that the city must contribute this money. With $85 million to cut from the budget, there are some tough decisions that must be made. Rather than cut basic city services like police and fire, Funkhouser (left) wants to among other things stop subsidizing the buildings used by the Royals and Chiefs.

“Kansas City residents have for years paid a disproportionate share of the Jackson County sports complex,” Funkhouser said in his memo to the Kansas City Council on his plans for the budget. “If a choice has to be made about where to spend general-fund tax dollars, then it’s clear that we should spend it on police.” …Read More!

Vrabel Speaks

The speakerphone was fired up again at the Chiefs as LB Mike Vrabel spoke to the Kansas City media on Friday.

Courtesy of the Chiefs, here are the highlights of what he had to say.

What position will you play here in Kansas City?

“I would imagine linebacker since that is where I played and hopefully I can help, if there is a need, in a goal line situation on offense. I have done that in the past. Certainly if I had to pick and (TE) Tony Gonzalez was down there and I was down there, I’d probably cover Tony Gonzalez before me so maybe I could open up some possibilities, I don’t know. He draws plenty of attention; he always has when the Patriots played him.”

Are you more comfortable inside or outside?

“When I first moved inside, for whatever reason in New England, there was a certain transition period but after two years of playing in there I was pretty comfortable. I can play either one of the spots depending on what we need. I don’t know what the coaches plans are, what their thoughts are, what they want to do with the personnel that we have from last year and the guys that will be coming in.” …Read More!

Chiefs Re-Sign McGraw

Well, the Chiefs announced a free agent signing on Friday.

It just happened to be a guy who wore the uniform last year, as they agreed to terms with safety Jon McGraw.

They also announced the signing of linebacker Darrell Robertson.

McGraw joined the Chiefs as a free agent before the 2007 season and in two years with the team has been a standout on special teams. McGraw came into the league as a second-round pick of Herm Edwards and the New York Jets in the 2002 NFL Draft. He will be 30 years old early next month and the 2009 season would be his eight in the league.

Last year, McGraw led the Chiefs with 16 tackles on special teams.  He also had an interception.  A product of Riley County High School in Manhattan, Kansas, McGraw had 12 special teams stops in the ’07 season.

At 6-4, 246 pounds, Robertson was on the New England practice squad last year. He came into the NFL as a college free agent with Dallas in 2008 out of Georgia Tech, where he was recruited and played for Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.  In the ’08 pre-season with the Cowboys, he was credited with four tackles and one for minus yardage.  He  played two games last year in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos and had six tackles.

In 50 games at Tech, he had 108 tackles and 11.5 sacks.

Bottom of Bird Cage 3/6

It’s Day No. 65 of the year and we raise our flag to former 65s in Chiefs history, especially Jon Gilliam, Tom Condon and Remi Prudhomme.

On March 6, 1820, President James Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to join the United States as a slave state, while the rest of the Louisiana Purchase territory was slavery free. On March 6, 1964, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad gave boxer Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali, meaning Beloved of Allah.

Born on March 6, 1923 in Detroit was Ed McMahon, the greatest straight man in late night TV history. Born on March 6, 1947 was Dick Fosbury, American high jumper who invented the Fosbury Flop method of going over the bar backwards. He won the gold medal at the 1068 Summer Olympics.

On March 6, 1836, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis and James Bonham and many others were all killed at the Battle of the Alamo. The Mexican Army breached the Alamo walls on March 6 and killed everyone inside the structure.

Remember the Alamo.

Being a quarterback legend gets you a decent haircut, a corner booth at the most prominent sports bar and a nickname that sticks for four decades. In Kansas City, it makes you one in 1.9 million. “Lenny the Cool” isn’t sure how his beloved Chiefs got here, stuck somewhere between Todd Blackledge and Brodie Croyle. At some point, he says, they gave up drafting quarterbacks high. He’s watched one of the NFL’s most intimidating venues turn half-empty, watched a town turn cynical. During rush hour one night this past December, when news broke that their general manager was resigning, Kansas Citians responded by honking their horns in glee. “Something had to be done,” Len Dawson says. “You’d like to see some hope here.”

…Read More!

Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

There were not a lot of folks in the NFL who were willing to go on the record about the future of Terrell Owens in the league.

One was New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

“He was second in the league in dropped passes last year with 33,” Payton said during a radio interview in New Orleans, “and a lot of those came at critical moments.”

Payton made it very plain the Saints had no interest in the 35-year old Owens who was released Wednesday night by the Dallas Cowboys.

Media outlets got “not interested” answers from more than half the league on Thursday. The leagues other half, probably did not want to talk about the subject at all. Even the Oakland Raiders, always the spot for wayward and troubled souls in the league, said they were happy with the receivers on their roster.

Give Al Davis a few days to think about it and that happiness might be tested. Still, it’s probably not the kind of guy you want to mix with a young, developing quarterback like JaMarcus Russell.

The last time Owens was a free agent, he had only two teams express any interest in him: Dallas and Denver, and the Broncos did not offer a signing bonus.

This time, Owens and his agent Drew Rosenhaus may have to wait until another team’s receivers get injured before they find an offer. It could be a sad ending to what’s been a pretty remarkable career for a one-time third-round draft choice out of Tennessee -Chattanooga. He has 951 catches for 14,122 yards and 139 touchdown catches over his career. …Read More!

What’s The Chiefs Plan?

Thursday evening will mark the end of the first week of free agency in the National Football League.

There have been very active teams, like the Denver Broncos who have signed a dozen new players. There have been other teams that have signed no new players, like the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

And then there are the Chiefs, who have signed no free agents, although they picked up a couple of key players in quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel in a trade.

No one expected Scott Pioli to dive head first into the free agency waters. That just wouldn’t seem to be the profile from his days in New England. But as far as we know, the Chiefs haven’t even stuck a toe in the river of players that have been floating past them. Now, because of the way the Chiefs operate these days they may have a couple of free agents signed and we don’t know about it yet.

It’s not hard to believe that a team that finished 2-14 last season and 6-26 over the last two years would be interested in adding as many players as possible. There are a lot of different ways to impact a roster. You build from the top down, with draft choices and key free agents. You build from the bottom up, by signing street free agents and developing them. And you build from the middle, adding veteran players to fill holes in the roster and to help with special teams. …Read More!

Bottom of Bird Cage-T.O. Edition 3/5

Welcome to the 64th day of the year, and we bow to the honor of former Chiefs No. 64s, Curt “Mother” Merz and current center Rudy Niswanger.

On March 5, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt declares a bank holiday, closing all U.S. banks and freezing all financial transactions. Ouch. Doesn’t seem so implausible anymore, does it? On March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill used the term Iron Curtain to describe the symbolic boundary that divided Europe after World War II.

On March 5, 1963, country singer Patsy Cline died in a plane crash in Tennessee. She was returning to Nashville after a benefit performance at Soldier and Sailors Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. The small private plane went down in bad weather. She was just 30 years old. And on March 5, 1982, actor-comedian John Belushi died in a hotel room on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California from a drug overdose. He was just 33 years old.

So before we dissect Terrell Owens, let’s pause for a moment to remember John “Bluto” Blutarsky from Animal House, who tried to rally his fraternity brothers: “What the bleep happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…”

From Ft. Worth Star-Telegram columnist Jim Reeves:
No more Jerry double-talk. No more non-denial denials. No more whispers, rumor and innuendo. Terrell Owens’ reign of terror with the Dallas Cowboys is over. That “whooshing” noise emanating from north Dallas wasn’t the Goodyear blimp developing a leak. It was a sigh of relief from Valley Ranch.

A source confirmed an ESPN report late Wednesday night that the Cowboys have released the controversial wide receiver after his third year with the team, a season marred by locker-room discord and a disappointing 9-7 playoff-less finish. Owens sews controversy like a Kansas farmer sews wheat. He can’t help it. He has made three stops in the NFL —with San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas — and departed each one in a cloud of unhappiness and internal back-biting.

…Read More!

Cowboys Release T.O.

The Cowboys long T.O. nightmare is over.

Wednesday evening, the Dallas Cowboys parted ways with wide receiver Terrell Owens, releasing the veteran wide receiver after three seasons with the team.

It was just about a week ago, that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called “total misinformation” the fact that he and his son, team V.P. Stephen Jones were debating the future of Owens with the team.

Early reports out of Dallas say the debating went on until Wednesday evening when the decision was made to release the 35-year old receiver.  The decision could not have been salary cap related, according to figures provided by the Dallas Morning News.  T.O. counted $8.995 million against the team’s cap in ’09 on the roster.  Off the roster because of signing bonus acceleration, he counts $9.67 million according to the News.

During the 2008 season, Owens caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdown catches.  In three seasons with the Cowboys, he caught 235 passes for 3,587 yards and 38 TDs in 47 games with the star on his helmet.

Owens now becomes a free agent and it will be interesting to see just what team might be interested in his services for 2009.

Thursday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

If an NFL team was still searching through the ranks of defensive players for help in free agency, the pool grew even shallower by the end of business on Wednesday.

Ray Lewis … Demetric Evans … Philip Buchanon … Jabari Greer … Takeo Spikes, they were all scooped up in deals announced on Wednesday.

Lewis stayed in Baltimore and Spikes stayed in San Francisco. Evans went from Washington to the 49ers. Buchanon signed with Detroit, after playing last year for Tampa Bay. Greer left Buffalo for the New Orleans Saints.

Plus, defensive end Kenny Peterson stayed with Denver.

Some pretty good offensive talent went off the board as well. Quarterback Kurt Warner decided to stay with the Arizona Cardinals, signing a two-year deal for $23 million with $15 million in the first year between a signing bonus and salary. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as the replacement for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He got a four-year deal for $28 million. Center Matt Birk is leaving Minnesota after playing 11 years for the Vikings to sign a three-year, $12 million deal with Baltimore that included $6 million in guaranteed money.

But defensive talent, especially players under 30 years of age, is not very plentiful in what’s left on the free agency market. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/4

It’s the 63rd day of the year, and we honor one great No. 63 in red and gold, Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier.

On March 4, 1519, explorer Henan Cortes arrived in Mexico in search of the Aztec civilization. No truth the rumor that he spent several days in Cancun before he made his way inland. On March 4, 1925 Calvin Coolidge became the first U.S. President to have his inauguration broadcast on the radio. Bill Grigsby handled the pre-game show.

Born on March 4, 1988 in Voss, Norway was the Notre Dame great Knute Rockne. Born on March 4, 1961 in Youngstown, Ohio was boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Died on March 3, 1990 was college basketball player Hank Gathers, who died on the court as his Loyola Marymount played Portland. Actor John Candy passed away on March 4, 1994.

One of Candy’s best roles in Uncle Buck and one of his best lines was when he was talking to the principal at his niece’s school:

“I don’t think I want to know a six-year-old who isn’t a dreamer, or a sillyheart. And I sure don’t want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one. Because they’re ALL good kids, until dried-out, brain-dead skags like you drag them down and convince them they’re no good. ”

An anthem for all the sillyhearts in the world! …Read More!

Wednesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Free agency finally came to the Chiefs on Tuesday, or at least the rest of the world learned about some of the details.

Veteran wide receiver Bobby Ingram (right) visited with the team on Tuesday. They are expected to visit with linebacker Clark Haggans on Wednesday. The first week of the free agency period is almost over and the Chiefs are busy picking their way through the remaining players and finding some that may be helpful.

The 36-year old Ingram has spent the last eight seasons in Seattle. His best season was in 2007, the year after the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. He played in all 16 games that year, catching 94 passes for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns. Last year, he played in 13 games for Seattle with 47 catches for 489 yards and no touchdowns.

He began his career in 1996 as a second-round choice of the Chicago Bears in the 1996 NFL Draft out of Penn State. In 13 NFL seasons, he’s caught 645 passes for 7,690 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Haggans (below) is 32 years old and a nine-year veteran of the NFL, after being drafted in the fifth-round by Pittsburgh in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Colorado State. He spent eight years with the Steelers, the last four years as a starter in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. In the 2005 season, he had nine sacks and in the Super Bowl season of 2006, Haggans had 76 tackles, six sacks and one interception. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage 3/3

It’s the 62nd day of the year, so we honor some former 62s in Chiefs history, including Adam Ligner, Glenn Parker and Casey Wiegmann. It’s now 54 days until the start of the NFL Draft.

On March 3, 1845, Florida is admitted to the United States as the 27th state of the union and on March 3, 1931, The Star Spangled Banner was officially adopted as the national anthem.

Born on March 3, 1847 was Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone. Born on March 3, 1962 was Heisman Trophy winning running back Herschel Walker. On March 3, 1959, Lou Costello passed away, half of the famous Abbott and Costello comedy duo.

Their “Who’s on First” routine is an American classic, including the ending:

Costello: I throw the ball to who. Whoever it is drops the ball and the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to What. What throws it to I Don’t Know. I Don’t Know throws it back to Tomorrow, Triple play. Another guy gets up and hits a long fly ball to Because. Why? I don’t know! He’s on third and I don’t give a darn!

Abbott: What?

Costello: I said I don’t give a darn!

Abbott: Oh, that’s our shortstop.

Here’s some non-baseball talk. …Read More!

Tuesday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

As welcome-to-town press gatherings go, it wasn’t much.

But that’s just what the new folks making the decisions around the Chiefs want these days.

On Monday, despite the fact he was in town, and possibly in the building, quarterback Matt Cassel held his first opportunity with the Kansas City media talking over a speaker phone. Head coach Todd Haley did show up in person to take questions about Cassel and the team.

But there was no film of at 10 o’clock of Cassel trying on his new jersey, or shaking hands with the coach, or smiling as he answered questions.

That’s the way the Chiefs wanted things. There’s a concern about Cassel being viewed as the savior of the franchise and it’s understandable that Scott Pioli would have that view. But Pioli’s also smart enough to know that he has no control over whether Chiefs Fan views Cassel as the second coming of Len Dawson or not.

In fact, they do view him that way. The Chiefs Nation is bubbling about the trade that brought Cassel to Kansas City. Ever since Dawson retired in 1975, the franchise has been seeking a new quarterback to lead them to the NFL’s Promised Land.

Almost 35 years ago, it was Mike Livingston. Then came Steve Fuller, Bill Kenney, Todd Blackledge, Dave Krieg, Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Trent Green and Brodie Croyle. Along the way, a few other guys jumped into the void with less fanfare, guys like Steve DeBerg, Rich Gannon and Damon Huard.

Livingston, Fuller, Blackledge and Croyle came through the draft. Kenney, Gannon and Huard were free agents. DeBerg, Montana, Bono and Green came through trades.

None was Dawson. …Read More!

Our First Caption Contest

If you’ve visited the site, you know in general how I feel about Larry Johnson. For those who are new, let’s just say that I like the guy. I think he’s misunderstood, I think he’s created most of those misunderstandings and I hope he gets help with the issues that have dogged him since leaving college.

But I cannot resist this.

Below, you will find a picture of L.J. taken this past weekend in Las Vegas. It’s quite an outfit he’s sporting.

I’m not hip.  I’m not hop.  I’m not cool and I’m not sure how to describe this ensemble.

Thus, please make your own contribution to our first ever caption contest. The picture comes from the website

…Read More!

Haley, Cassel Speak

In the continuing changes that have come to Chiefs Land they held one of the more unusual introductions of a big-time new addition to the roster in club history on Monday afternoon.

Apparently intent on not making Matt Cassel’s arrival in Kansas City a media dog and pony show, Todd Haley spoke from the podium in the club’s press room. Then, Cassel spoke on a speaker phone, even though he was in Kansas City, maybe even in the building.

Missing was the photo opportunity with the coach and new quarterback holding up the Chiefs jersey with Cassel’s name across the back. Of course, the new guy is going to have to find a new number since the No. 16 he wore for New England is retired after it was worn during the Hall of Fame career of Len Dawson.

Only two real news items came from the afternoon. Haley has added Ronnie Bradford to his coaching staff as an assistant secondary/assistant special teams coach. Bradford has coached the last six years in Denver for Mike Shanahan. And Cassel indicated that his agent David Dunn continues talks with the Chiefs on a long-term contract, or longer than the one-year $14.65 franchise tender offer he is guaranteed this coming year.

Neither Haley or Cassel has much experience talking with the media, but they handled their brief appearances quite well. Here’s what they had to say of note: …Read More!

Bottom Of The Bird Cage 3/2

It’s March 2, the 61st day of the year and we tip our chapeau to former No. 61s with the Chiefs, Curley Culp, Don Parrish and Tim Grunhard.

On March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks.

Born on March 2, 1904 was Dr. Seuss and arriving on March 2, 1942 was another poet of note, singer Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground. Passing away on March 2, 2004 was Marge Schott, one-time owner of the Cincinnati Reds, who once said she didn’t want to hire scouts for her team because “all they ever do is sit around and watch baseball games.”

And in the words of Dr. Seuss, which really should be the standing quote for this feature: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Let’s go someplace! …Read More!

Monday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

As the reverberations of the Chiefs trade for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel continue to rumble through the NFL, the deal is causing trouble in the mile high city.

On Monday, Cassel is expected in Kansas City. On Monday, the Denver Broncos will again try to get their quarterback Jay Cutler to sit down and talk. They tried to do that on Sunday, but Cutler refused their request for a meeting.

Seems the Chiefs trade for Cassel and all the behind-the-scenes machinations involving the Patriots, Buccaneers and Broncos over the weekend, have left some very hard feelings in Denver with their quarterback. Cutler says Denver tried to trade him. The Broncos leaders say that’s not true.

While Denver has inked eight unrestricted free agents in the first three days of the signing season, the headlines involve an unhappy Cutler.

“I’ve heard the rumors,” Cutler told a Denver TV station. “I know what they’re trying to do. Even though I love Denver and I’d love to remain a Bronco, I know how this business works. If they want me to play somewhere else, so be it.”

Cutler did not try to hide his feelings in any fashion. …Read More!

Cassel Trade Still Causing Talk

Could the Patriots have had a first and third-round picks for Matt Cassel? Could they have had at least the No. 12 choice for the New England quarterback? Did the Broncos really offer to trade Jay Cutler if they could get Cassel?

The NFL was still bubbling with chatter about the deal between the Chiefs and Patriots that sent Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City with a second-round draft choice heading to New England.

And if there are any truths to the stories being told around the league, then Saturday morning had to be a very interesting time for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Let’s see if we can weave all this together. …Read More!

Bottom of the Bird Cage – Matt Cassel Edition 3/1

Welcome to March 1, day No. 60 of the year, as we tip our hat to former Chiefs 60s like Tarkio’s Al Reynolds, George Daney and Donald “Snacks” Willis.

On March 1, 1967 Nebraska became the 37th member of the United States of America. The town of Lancaster was renamed Lincoln and became the state capital. On March 1, 1932, the son of Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped. The toddler was later murdered.

Born on March 1, 1914 was Harry Caray, and the broadcasting world was never the same. On March 1, 1926 Pete Rozelle was born. He would go on to become one of the most influential names in sports history as Commissioner of the NFL.

Today, we have a theme, and that’s the reaction in New England to the trade that sent QB Matt Cassel and LB Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round draft choice. Enjoy.

From Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy: Patriots fans worship at the altar of Bill Belichick. “In Bill We Trust” is embossed on sweatshirts, jackets, posters, and commemoratives from Super Bowls won in New Orleans, Houston, and Jacksonville. Woe is anyone who questions His Hoodiness. It makes you a traitor, a nitwit, or both. This blind allegiance will be tested in upcoming days, weeks, and months, because Belichick has swapped rising-star quarterback Matt Cassel and popular veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 34th pick in this year’s NFL draft.

It’s a deal that’s got everything – history, emotion, high finance, backroom dealing, and the certainty of infinite speculation and second-guessing. The trade is a clear sign that the Patriots believe Tom Brady will be his old self at the start of the 2009 season. This is good news. We have lived in an information vacuum concerning all things Brady since the cover boy QB went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the first game of the 2008 campaign (against the Chiefs, oddly enough). There were multiple reports of post-surgery infection and slow recovery, and neither Brady nor the Patriots offered much in the way of clarification.

…Read More!

Pioli Has NFL Talking About The Chiefs

When it came to free agency, it figured to be a quiet weekend for the Chiefs in the first days of the signing period.

When it came to free agents, it was quiet.

When it came to adding talent to the Chiefs roster, it was very loud.

The whole NFL was talking about the trade the Chiefs consummated on Saturday morning with New England. The Chiefs gave up the 34th selection in this April’s NFL Draft. In return, they got quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel.

Scott Pioli gave up a second-round choice to establish his leaders on offense and defense with the Chiefs. That seems a very small price to pay to get two starters who can still play, but can also help bring changes in the locker room.

If we can believe NFL gossip, there was quite a bit of intrigue Saturday morning as other teams around the league tried to get in on the Cassel sweepstakes. Supposedly Denver, Detroit and Tampa Bay were all talking with the Patriots. There’s even a rumor that Denver was offering up current Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade that would have included Tampa Bay and New England.

Whether true or not, Cutler now thinks his team was trying to deal him and he’s not very happy about the whole situation.

“I’m upset,” Cutler told the Denver Post.  “I mean I’m really shocked at this point.  I could see why they want Cassel.  I don’t know if they think I can’t run the system or I don’t have the skills for it.  I just don’t get it.  Or if they don’t think they can sign me with my next contract.  I just don’t know what it is.  I’ve heard I’m still on the trading block.” …Read More!


2011 Senior Bowl
Chiefs Players
College football
Combine 2010
Combine 2011
Cup O'Chiefs
Draft 2010
Draft Profiles 2010
Game Coverage
Hall of Fame
Mouth Of Todd
Other News
Practice Update





         Copyright 2010 Bob Gretz. May not be used or reprinted without the expressed written consent of Bob Gretz.