Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Kansas City Chiefs [Print without images]

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Hali is a true example for younger Chiefs

By Adam Teicher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On a hot and humid afternoon, every Kansas City Chiefs player was sweating coming off their practice field on Wednesday but Tamba Hali really had it going. A team PR assistant handed him a towel, which he used repeatedly to wipe his face while answering a few questions from the assembled media.

When he was done, Hali would allow himself a break but eventually would head back to the gym for another workout, this one with his personal trainer.

In there was a lesson his teammates would do well to heed.

Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali is trying to inspire his younger teammates with his work ethic.
"The only way I know how to compete in this league because I don't come with the talent a lot of guys come with is to work at it," said Hali, a Pro Bowl outside linebacker. "We've probably got about 60 days left until we're sitting in camp. Every day counts from dieting to the work. I put extra couple of hours in the evening with my trainer just to stay on top of things."

That type of work ethic has allowed Hali to last eight NFL seasons. Perhaps uncertain how many more years Hali, a high-effort player if there ever was one, can give them, the Chiefs drafted pass-rushing outside linebacker Dee Ford in the first round.

Ford may eventually nudge Hali out of a job, but that won't happen this year.  In the meantime, adding Ford can only help Hali. The Chiefs' pass rush can use an upgrade after stalling over the second half of last season.

That's particularly true as long as the Chiefs' other Pro Bowl outside linebacker, Justin Houston, holds out.

Not every veteran would get this, but Hali does.

"As an older guy, I've got to step my game up and make sure I can play a few more years here and at the same time knowing this kid is coming, he's going to be able to help us," Hali said. "We were in situations last year when we had only one pass-rusher in the game. When two guys are in the game, it's kind of deadly. Now we've added a third. Hopefully we can get all of us on the field.

"I've got to help this guy. The Chiefs have been loyal to me and kept here for a long time even when I had three sacks (2008). They still believed in my talent and kept me around. The best thing I can do with all the knowledge I've acquired is pass it along to these guys."

One thing Hali needs to share with all of his teammates is his sense of urgency. He is one of four Chiefs players 30 or older. He has accomplished much from a personal standpoint in his time with the Chiefs, but none of his teams have so much as won a playoff game.

That's another lesson the younger Chiefs should observe.

"It's all about winning this championship," Hali said. "I haven't been [this] focused on winning a championship.

"It's very important right now that our focus is to win a championship. We can't sell ourselves short. We have the best coach in the game. I'm getting older. I felt like Dee Ford [when he first came into the NFL in 2006], come out here, chase everything around [on the practice field] and then go have fun with my family, do whatever I want. When I'm done here, I've got to get some sleep and work out again. I want to get myself to be able to . . . help our team. All our guys should be doing the same."

But will they? The Chiefs are getting in their work on the practice field but few seem as committed as Hali.

"I know a few guys that [are]," Hali said. "I hope everybody feels the same way. Honestly, we really should pass this on to the younger guys as fast as we can. They have to understand that. This thing is not for long."