- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some Chiefs fans became so dissatisfied with GM Scott Pioli this season that they hired a plane to carry a banner over Arrowhead Stadium on game days with the message to fire Pioli. There's no need to go to such lengths anymore.
The most reviled man -- whether it’s deserved or not -- in Kansas City sports is no longer in the picture.
As part of the movement to bring high-powered coach Andy Reid to the Chiefs, the organization has parted ways with general manager Scott Pioli.
This is not the way it was supposed to happen.
As excited as Kansas City is to welcome Reid, they were just as excited when ownership hired Pioli nearly four years ago. He was the top GM candidate available in 2009 and the Chiefs were given a lot of credit for bringing him on board.
He was well-respected for being part of New England’s success as Bill Belichick’s right-hand man.
But, in the end, Pioli didn’t succeed as the main decision-maker in Kansas City. The Chiefs made the playoffs just once in Pioli’s tenure (in 2010) and they flatlined in 2012 with a 2-14 record, earning the No. 1 pick in the April draft.
As the 2012 season unraveled it became evident that ownership likely would have no choice but to fire both Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel. However, Pioli was kept on Monday after Crennel was jettisoned.
Owner Clark Hunt was open to keeping Pioli, perhaps in a simliar role to the one he had in New England. But the franchise will move forward with Reid as the main decision-maker. He is expected to bring in his own general manager who he can work closely with. The favorites are John Dorsey and Tom Heckert. Reid has a history with both men.
This is the right way to go. I don’t think it would have worked between Reid and Pioli. Starting a new era without Pioli makes sense for everyone.
Pioli said in a statement that he leaves Kansas City knowing he didn’t get the job done. Ultimately, Pioli will be remembered in Kansas City for failing at his two biggest tasks: Finding a quarterback and a coach.
In Pioli’s first move big move as Chiefs GM, he traded for quarterback Matt Cassel from New England. He thought Cassel could enjoy the same success in Kansas City as he did as Tom Brady's injury replacement in 2008. Cassel was good in 2010, but his play slipped in 2011.
Instead of finding a replacement (the Chiefs were rebuffed by Peyton Manning early in the process and they bypassed quarterback Russell Wilson in the draft), Pioli rode with Cassel again. The quarterback struggled and was benched during the 2012 season.
Pioli also failed with two coaching hires in Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel.
These moves made it very difficult for Pioli to succeed. They weren’t his only failures, though. He drafted just one Pro Bowl player -- Eric Berry in the first round in 2010. Four of the Chiefs’ five Pro Bowl players were on the roster when Pioli took over. He also failed to take advantage of a strong salary-cap situation.
Pioli also has a reputation for not being easy to work with. Haley went as far as to say he thought Pioli spied on him and there were accounts of other employee uneasiness.
Friday’s decision has been met with celebration by much a fan base that was fed up with a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in 20 years. Like his hiring did four years ago, Pioli's dismissal brings hope to the fan base.
In the end, Pioli is still a smart football man and I can see him getting looks at other spots. If he doesn’t become a candidate for other openings, he could end up in Atlanta, Chicago or New England. He has ties to all three places.
As for the Chiefs, it is now all about Reid’s leadership. The Chiefs hope he has enough success to keep any flying protests grounded.
1dEric D. Williams
23hEric D. Williams