KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt Cassel returns to Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday night, this time as the quarterback of the opponent, the Minnesota Vikings. No doubt that Kansas City Chiefs fans will welcome him back the way they sent him out, with a loud chorus of boos.
Cassel deserves better than that. He wasn’t the solution for the Chiefs at quarterback and didn’t deserve the contract Scott Pioli gave him, but there are much bigger villains for that dreadful time when the Chiefs had Pioli as their general manager and Todd Haley and then Romeo Crennel as coach.
The Chiefs surrounded Cassel upon his arrival with a mostly dreadful group of skill players. Dwayne Bowe was their top receiver, but he missed four games in Cassel’s first season because of an NFL suspension. Their other wide receivers were Chris Chambers, Bobby Wade, Lance Long, Mark Bradley and Terrance Copper. Their tight ends were Sean Ryan, Leonard Pope and Brad Cottam. Their running back was a washed-up Larry Johnson until Johnson’s behavior forced the Chiefs to dump him and play Jamaal Charles.
With that kind of talent, even Peyton Manning couldn’t have done much better.
The Chiefs won the AFC West in 2010 and Cassel played in the Pro Bowl. But then things got really sour between Pioli and Haley and the whole operation became toxic.
The Chiefs desperately wanted into the Manning sweepstakes during this time, but he wasn’t interested in coming to Kansas City for a good reason. It wasn’t because of the weather or the barbecue. He recognized how bad things were for the Chiefs and wanted no part of it.
The Chiefs had big problems in those seasons that no quarterback could have solved. Cassel was mostly guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So go ahead and boo Cassel on Saturday night. That’s your right. But just know that if you do, you’re booing the face of those problems and not the source.