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In Kansas City, blame goes all the way to the top

Todd Haley, Scott Pioli

Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, left, and general manager Scott Pioli, right, talk during NFL football training camp in St Joseph, Mo., Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


It’s become fashionable -- and easy -- to point to coach Todd Haley as the man responsible for the Kansas City clusterfudge. But in light of eight quarters of football in which, on average, the Chiefs have been outscored at a rate of more than 11 to less than two, the buck doesn’t stop only on the head coach’s desk.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star accurately points out at the finger of blame should be pointed higher.

G.M. Scott Pioli hired the coach who suddenly can’t, and to the extent that the acrid smoke of dysfunction currently is billowing from the team’s headquarters, Pioli is the chef who put in ingredients in the vat and began to stir. Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports reports that the dysfunction between Pioli and Haley could be on the brink of all-out war, if it’s not already there. (And Chiefs fans surely will feel their stomachs continue to turn like cooked pigs on a spit as they process Silver’s prediction that Pioli wants to hire the man who ran the Broncos ship aground in only two seasons.)

As to the on-field employees, it’s Pioli who has spent -- or who hasn’t spent -- money on making the team better. Though few free-agency spending sprees ever have resulted in immediate success, the fact that, as of August 29, the Chiefs had more than $32 million in cap space suggests that the Chiefs plan to take full advantage of the next two years with no spending minimum, riding the fumes of an unlikely 2010 playoff berth to fill the seats at Arrowhead Stadium, and to stuff the mattresses with cash.

If that’s what’s happening, the oil slick of culpability goes all the way to owner Clark Hunt, who ultimately bears the blame for assembling a work force that has been worked over by two franchises that have no playoff berths between them in more than a decade. The Chiefs are indeed in bad, bad shape right now, and someone needs to rise above petty bickering and turf battles and provide real leadership.