Chiefs’ Hali enters camp under cloud of controversy
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali started training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
But he was still a center of attention.
Earlier this week, just a couple of days before players started reporting to St. Joseph for training camp, Hali vented frustration with playing time last season and his displeasure with teammates who did not show up for Kansas City’s organized team activities (OTAs).
“Fans should know this. only played 7 snaps last year 2017 playoff game against the Steelers,” he said in a series of tweets on July 22. “I was told the reason I wasn’t playing was they wanted me fresh for the playoff. Can someone explain to me how I played 58 snaps in the first game when we made the greatest comeback in Chiefs history? Am I needed in KC anymore?”
Then he started in on fellow team leaders Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters, who skipped all the OTAs, though not by name.
“I haven’t missed any off-season workouts in 11 years w/the Chiefs. I’ve played in every game except four in my 11 year career with Chiefs. Let’s look at the Super Bowl champs I am sure they had 100% attendance for OTAS AND OFFFSEASON WORKOUT this year.”
Hali spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since his tweets. He said he was not surprised that he created some controversy.
“I’m not surprised because I usually don’t talk,” Hali said after the first full-squad workout of the summer. “I’m a team-first guy. Whatever we need to get done, I’m on board.
“Fortunately my teammates didn’t pay much attention. I think it got blown out of proportion.”
Hali was probably most frustrated about only getting those seven snaps in the team’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
“I can still play the game,” Hali said. “I’m not going to lie to you. I’m a competitor, and I want to compete. It’s not about who’s better on the team. I don’t want to be phased out.”
None of Hali’s teammates was interested in criticizing him in front of the media.
“I don’t care about none of that,” Houston said. “That’s my brother. We’ve got a relationship, and I’m not letting outside stuff go on. We know what’s going on between us.”
Berry, who is a captain, said he did not know anything about the tweets, because he’s not on Twitter. He said that he had no issue with Hali, though quarterback Alex Smith teased him.
“I know what kind of person Tamba is,” Smith said. “We had some fun with it, especially with the old guy. I think it’s funny that the old guy is (the one who) provides the drama.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he was fine with Hali voicing his opinion.
“Tamba’s a unique character on this team,” Reid said. “He’s a big brother type. He’s old and he’s ornery.
“Everybody knows he loves to play the game. That’s all done.”
Hali looked a little bit embarrassed on the first day of camp, especially since he was one of very few players who did not participate. Asked if he would do it all over again, knowing what he now knows, he said he would, but maybe not the same way.
“I’d do it a little bit differently,” he said. “I wouldn’t be on Twitter. I probably would have contacted Coach to figure it out.
“I feel like I can still play, and that’s why I went on my rant.”