Chiefs show little emotion over Crennel firing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Perhaps Kansas City Chiefs players were simply drained from the misery of a 2-14 season.

Perhaps they were drained from a tumultuous season that included the tragic murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher.

Perhaps they were just relieved to put 2012 behind them.

For whatever reason, Chiefs players seemed especially emotionless on Monday as they talked to reporters about the dismissal of their head coach, Romeo Crennel.

Crennel was fired Monday by Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, who, along with Crennel, addressed the team just moments before reporters were allowed into the locker room at the team’s training facility.

“It is what it is,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said. “The owner felt a change was needed, and that’s his prerogative.”

Said cornerback Brandon Flowers: “Romeo is a great guy. (But) it’s a league where you have to win, and we all understand that. If you don’t win, you don’t stick around — whether you’re a coach or a player.”

Crennel, though, appeared to be more than just another coach to several Chiefs players. Some, including nose tackle Shaun Smith, often referred to Crennel as a father figure.

But even Smith seemed resigned to the fact that Crennel’s time in Kansas City was up, even after only one full year at the helm.

“You don’t like it, but it’s just the same thing as when a coach has to make cuts,” Smith said. “In the end, you hope they make the right decisions.

“But when you win two games, that happens. Well, even Lovie Smith got fired and he won 10 games. It’s just the way it is sometimes. It’s a sad day, but every year, coaches get fired. It just happens. It’s the business we’re in. There’s always going to be change.”

Added wide receiver Terrance Copper: “Romeo is a high-character guy. But in this business, you got to win. He doesn’t play. The guys in uniform do. But they fire coaches. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.”

Cornerback Travis Daniels suggested Crennel likely wasn’t surprised by Hunt’s decision.

“There’s always going to be change in this business,” Daniels said. “Romeo has been around a long time. He’s had a lot of success. I don’t think this one year will define him.

“But he understands the business. He knows you have to win to stick around. He was upbeat when he talked to us.”

Crennel was not available to reporters but did issue a statement. Perhaps he was relieved that it is finally over.

“He’s been through a lot with all the losing and the Jovan Belcher thing,” Shaun Smith said. “He said he was going to take the time off and relax, prop his leg up and enjoy the snow. I’m going to do the same.”

Smith said he didn’t think there was much more Crennel could have done to reverse the team’s fortunes in 2012.

“At the end of the day, coaches don’t play,” Smith said. “He’s not the one out there executing or missing tackles or fumbling the ball or missing field goals. Coaches can only do so much.

“But that’s the way it is in this league: Players mess up, and coaches get fired. You live with it. You move on.”

Perhaps Chiefs players, too, were more concerned about their own futures. Center/guard Ryan Lilja matter-of-factly told reporters he had played his final game in the NFL and would be retiring.

Numerous other players, including Smith and Daniels, are not under contract for next season.

“There’s lots of guys wondering where they’re going to be next season,” Daniels said. “My contract is up, and I hope I’ll be around next year. But you never know, so you think about that.

“We go through days like today all the time. You go through it during training camp. You get to know guys, and then they get cut. It’s our business. It’s sad, but it’s the nature of the league.”