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Chiefs fans owe Haley an apology

After taking the heat for the Chiefs' woes last season, Todd Haley deserves an apology.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyler Palko?

 

Todd Haley's fault.

 

Dwayne Bowe's diva streak?

 

Todd Haley's fault.

 

The losing culture? The tension? The misery?

 

Todd Haley, Todd Haley, Todd Haley.

 

This fall was supposed to be about sunshine. Remember? Sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, and Romeo Crennel. Blood pressures were down, expectations were up. That was the mantra of the spring, echoed again in the summer: A new day was dawning on Arrowhead Drive, now that Tyrannosaurus Todd had left the building once and for all.

 

Oh, what fools we were. What absolute fools.

 

A year ago this week, Haley was in his third season as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, a roster racked by knee problems — injuries had effectively ended the season for tight end Tony Moeaki, safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles  — had rebounded to a 4-4 record.

 

But that bunch then dropped four of its next five, and Haley was shown the door by general manager Scott Pioli. The keys landed in the waiting hands of the kinder, gentler Crennel, who finished the season 2-1. Happy days were here again.

 

Oh, what fools we were. What absolute fools.

 

Forgive us, Todd. It wasn't you.

 

This November, Haley is the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator, and his Steelers (5-3) are doing what the Steelers do, winners of three in a row and chasing a postseason berth. Haley's offense rates among the NFL's top 10 in third-down conversion percentage (first, 51.3); time of possession (second, 34:40); and passing yards per game (10th, 262.4), despite having to sift through a rotating cast at tailback.

 

The Chiefs? Well, they have a healthy Moeaki, a healthy Berry and a healthy Charles. Also, they're 1-7. An awful 1-7. A historic 1-7. So historic that they're the first NFL team on record since 1929 not to hold a lead in regulation, at any point, through its first seven games.

 

Banners fly over Arrowhead Stadium on game days asking for Pioli's dismissal. Fans are preparing to wear black en masse, funeral style, to mourn a campaign that's gone completely off the rails.

 

The Chiefs' big free-agent acquisition on the line, Eric Winston, shredded locals for allegedly cheering an injury to quarterback Matt Cassel. The Chiefs' big free-agent acquisition at cornerback, Stanford Routt, just got cut.

 

The only thing missing is a laugh track.

 

And now Kansas City visits Pittsburgh. On Monday Night Football, no less, where there's nowhere to run, no place to hide. The NFL's worst franchise will be foisted upon the league's biggest stage.

 

"Anytime you've got a guy on your team who used to play for another team, there's always a little incentive that you want to win for that guy," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters on Wednesday. "We haven't practiced yet, but throughout meetings and stuff, you can kind of see it a little bit. I don't think he's admitted it yet."

 

Forgive us, Todd. This could get ugly.

 

This fall was supposed to be different. Remember? When the Chiefs failed to capitalize on their 2010 playoff berth last fall, fingers pointed at Haley, whose temper made him a convenient scapegoat.

 

Then, over the winter, stories emerged. The former coach feared that his phone, his office, or both, had been bugged. Former staffers recounted an atmosphere of paranoia and purging in the Chiefs front office, of how Pioli ruled by fear and micromanaging, how a family organization was being stripped, bit by bit, of its very soul.

 

Insiders whispered that it was probably just a case of sour grapes, the whines of the loser in a power struggle. Exaggerations. Agendas. Collateral damage from a bitter divorce.

 

Forgive us, Todd. You were right. And now the Chiefs lumber into Monday as 13-point underdogs, Christians marched to the lions' den.

 

Whose fault is that?


You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com