Friday, March 9, 2012

let history be your guide

Let the fun begin!

And mere moments after that, the Star’s editorial writer Yael Abouhalkah (a man who, in the interest of full disclosure, I agree with 95% of the time) wrote that the “Cheap Chiefs” will “never” make Peyton an offer, at least a legitimate one.

Here’s the thing, Ol’ Pete, Adam, and Yael.  A wise man once wrote that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, or something like that.

Guys?  Chiefs fans?  Look at the history of this franchise, at least since Jack Steadman was booted from being involved in the day-to-day operations back in 1988.

The Chiefs might be “cheap” (they aren’t, but that’s another post for another day).  The Chiefs might have whiffed spectacularly at the QB position in the draft (agreed), in free agency (sorta agree) and via trade (strongly disagree).  But there’s one thing they have ALWAYS done, whether Carl or Pioli was calling the shots, and it is this:

The Chiefs have ALWAYS gone after the best quarterback on the market when the need for an upgrade exists.

You think I’m joking?  Let’s do this step by step.

1988: yes, we’re going back to the “Dark Ages”, the Jim Schaff / Jack Steadman years of debacle after failure after outright disaster.  With Todd Blackledge dumped for draft picks*, and Bill Kenney at the end of the line, what did the Chiefs do?

They traded for Steve DeBerg, the best quarterback available**.

(*: Chiefs acquired a fourth rounder in the 1988 draft for Blackledge.  To the surprise of no one, they drafted a worthless wide receiver from Ole Miss named JR Ambrose.  On the other hand, the Chiefs traded a backup safety named Mark Robinson, and two 1988 picks (fourth round, G John Brunin, Tennessee; eighth round, RB Anthony Simpson, East Carolina) for DeBerg … AND traded the number three pick (S Bennie Blades, Miami) and number twenty nine pick (LB Chris Spielman, Ohio State) to move up one spot to draft … Neil Smith, DE, Nebraska.  Just like Carl’s final draft really helped built the foundation for the Chiefs going forward … so did Jim Schaff’s final effort.)

(**: no matter how poorly you thought the 1980s Chiefs were run, and keep in mind, we fired our head coach AFTER our first playoff appearance in fifteen years because of a player mutiny keyed by our place kicker … how about your Tampa Bay Bucs!  Who traded NOT ONLY Steve DeBerg (solid pro, multi-time Pro Bowler) BUT ALSO Steve Young (Hall of Famer) in back-to-back seasons to make room for Vinny Testaverde!  Combine those brain farts with Bo Jackson taking one look at Tampa and opting to ride a bus in the minor leagues instead, and yeah, let’s just say, as bad as things were in KC, it was rainbows, sunshine, and lollipops compared to the situation in Tampa.)

1992: After four years of DeBerg (ok, 3 ½, I know DeBerg and Kenney basically split the 1988 season), the Chiefs decided to go in a different direction, believing (correctly) that DeBerg had taken them as far as he could (the divisional round).  There was one decent free agent on the market via the old Plan B system: Dave Kreig, a multiple time Pro Bowler for the divisional rival Seahawks.

The Chiefs signed him, went 10-6, and were shut out in the wildcard round at San Diego*.  Which led to the realization that Dave Kreig wasn’t the answer either.  So …

(*: occurred on my 16th birthday.  One can legitimately argue, in hindsight, it was the most fortuitous loss in franchise history, as it caused Marty to clean house on offense.)

1993: the Chiefs aggressively pursued the best quarterback available, a man coming off of not one, but essentially TWO years of not playing: Joe Montana.  It cost us a first round pick and a worthless backup cornerback*, but the Chiefs paid the price.

(*: the Montana trade specifics: Chiefs sent S David Whitmore and a 1993 first rounder (Number 18 overall, reshipped to Arizona, who drafted T Ernest Dye, South Carolina), for Montana and the 49ers 1994 third rounder (Number 92 overall, used to draft WR Lake Dawson, Notre Dame).  That’s one HELLUVA fleecing by one Carl D. Peterson!)

1994: knowing Montana had at most one year left in him, the Chiefs pursued the best option for them that was available: Montana’s old backup in San Francisco, Steve Bono*.

(*: Chiefs gave up a fourth rounder in 1995 (resent to Philly, used to draft QB Dave Barr, Cal).  I’m telling you, Carl was ON FIRE from 1993-1997 in the draft.)

1996: after an epic collapse (losing 4 of 5) to miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Chiefs concluded that Steve Bono wasn’t the answer … and had no faith in Rick “Dick” Gannon either.  So what did they do? 

They signed the biggest name on the free agent market, Elvis Grbac, to a massive free agent contract.  Once again, when faced with having to upgrade the quarterback position, the Chiefs aggressively pursued the best option available.

2001: after a decent five year run with Grbac at the helm, and with Dick Gannon having moved on to the raiders, the “Day of Reckoning” with the salary cap had finally arrived, and the Chiefs were forced to cut Elvis Grbac.

The replacement?  Was the best quarterback available, Trent Green.  It cost us a first round pick (12th overall, used to draft DE Damione Lewis, Miami).  Once again, when the Chiefs had to upgrade the quarterback position, they aggressively pursued the best option available.

2006: with the retirement of Dick Vermeil, and the nearing retirement of Trent Green, the Chiefs smartly decided to upgrade their options at the backup quarterback position.  They (stupidly) wasted a high draft pick on Alabama QB Brodie Croyle*, and (smartly) signed the best backup quarterback available, Patriots backup Damon Huard.  Huard would double-handedly (along with Larry Johnson’s career year) save the Chiefs season, and milk a wildcard berth out of a team with five win talent everywhere other than QB and RB.

(*: in the interest of full disclosure, NOBODY was a bigger fan of drafting Croyle than I was.  And NOBODY was more fired up for Croyle taking over as the starter in 2007.  So I can occasionally be wrong.  But when I’m right, like the DJ / Aaron Rodgers debate in 2005?  I’m en fuego.)

2009: with Trent Green having retired, Damon Huard ineffective save for one amazing eight game stretch in 2006, and Brodie Croyle anything but effective, the Chiefs once again had a gigantic hole under center.

And ONCE AGAIN, the Chiefs aggressively pursued the best quarterback available, acquiring Matt Cassel (and Mike Vrabel) for a second round pick BEFORE free agency began.  Let that sink in – for the EIGHTH time in 20 years, the Chiefs aggressively moved to upgrade the quarterback position by grabbing the best available player at the position.  (The Pats used the pick to draft Patrick Chung, S, Oregon).

And now?  I ask you, Chiefs fans, based on HISTORY, based on tangible evidence and fact, why do you doubt the Chiefs are all in to upgrade the position? 

You can argue with the results of the actions the Chiefs have taken (although overall, most have been winning moves, albeit short of the ultimate prize), but you CANNOT argue with the fact that the Chiefs have been, if not THE most aggressive team in football, then amongst the most aggressive teams in football, when it comes to upgrading the quarterback position.

Facts don’t lie.  For twenty plus years, when the Chiefs have had a glaring hole under center, they have moved swiftly and aggressively to plug it, and have paid the price necessary to plug it.  Why do so many Chiefs fans and media pundits who cover this team daily, doubt that we’ll fail to do that in 2012?

If you want to ignore the Carl Peterson years as the “past” and “not reflective of the current regime”, fine.  Then riddle me this, Batman: when Scott Pioli came to down in 2009, what was his FIRST major personnel move?  (Trading for the best QB available).

And last fall, when the Chiefs playoff hopes were fading fast because of Cassel’s injury and Palko’s incompetence, and a former Pro Bowl quarterback hit the market six weeks before the postseason began, who signed him?  (Scott Pioli and the Chiefs).

Twice in the Pioli years, when the need has been glaring and obvious under center, the Chiefs went out and got the best fix available.  Why do you doubt they’d fail to at least TRY and do that now?

Those who fail to learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it.  So keep doubting the Chiefs pursing an upgrade at QB if you want, Chiefs fans.  Be pessimistic, be negative, be Debbie Doubters.

 Me?  I look at the past, the history of this franchise, and I feel very confident in closing this post by saying the following.  IF Matt Cassel is starting under center come September 9th, it won’t be because the Chiefs didn’t go all out in an attempt to upgrade the position.

(editors note: all relevant trade facts courtesy of Pro Sports Transactions.  Sorry I forgot to include that on the first publish.  I hate plagerism of all kinds, and apologize profusely to the good folks at PST for forgetting to include a link to their site when citing their data earlier.)

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