CLARK HUNT: “Good afternoon everybody and thank you for being here and Happy New Year. This is a very exciting day for the Chiefs franchise. As you probably already know, we are here today to introduce Romeo Crennel as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. We are delighted to have a man of Romeo’s character and experience leading the Chiefs franchise. In 30 years in the National Football League, Romeo has been a Super Bowl champion five times, and throughout his long and distinguished career, he has established himself as one of the most respected men in the game of pro football. After a thorough interview process that spanned the better part of four weeks, it was clear to Scott [Pioli] and I that Romeo was the best person to continue to develop our young football team, and the best head coach to lead the Chiefs into the future. We are thrilled to have Romeo Crennel as our head coach, and now I want to turn it over to Scott to say a few words.”
SCOTT PIOLI: “Thanks for being here everyone. I really appreciate it. This is an exciting day for the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Chiefs fans. I’ve known Romeo for quite some time and understand and know what he is and who he is and what he represents. He’s a guy who is a great football mind, he has a great deal of integrity, he certainly knows how to get the troops motivated – to say the least – and he’s somebody I know that knows how to create a great deal of energy, emotion and respect among the players. I’m excited about this day and I know the fans should be and will be very excited about this. With that being said, I’ll turn it over to Romeo.”
ROMEO CRENNEL: “Thank you for coming as well. After all these good comments, I don’t know how I can follow this up, but I would like to thank Mr. Hunt and the Hunt family for giving me this opportunity to lead the Chiefs going forward. It is a great opportunity because there are only 32 of these jobs in the world, and to be able to sit here representing the Chiefs, I think it’s very special. I think – and if I may call him Clark, which he always asks me to do – I think Clark has a vision for building a championship team and the commitment that it takes to get that done, and I’m on board with his vision and I want to help him do that. I think Scott has put a plan in place and began to lay a foundation. The thing I hope to do is to help build on that plan and help continue to build that foundation and tweak it as we need to tweak it to get where we need to be because we’re not where we need to be yet. But, I think that there is a good nucleus in that locker room. As I told the young men at the end of the season, I think that they have some substance, some character to them. And I think going forward we have an opportunity to develop and build that competitive team that will hopefully give us a chance to be on the championship track year-in and year-out. I’m excited about that and I’m looking forward to that, so I accept the challenge of leading the Chiefs into the future.
“I know that this job is not always the easiest job to have because I had one once before that didn’t turn out like I wanted it to. So, I’m going to work very hard to try to make this one turn out the way I want it to, and the way I want it to is to be a consistent winner, to win championships, and we’re going to try to get that done while I’m here and sitting in this chair. I think that it’s important that the players understand that team is important to me. I want our players to be a team, in all facets of the game. It’s not the defense versus the offense or the offense versus the defense or offense versus special teams. I want us to be the Chiefs and everybody has a role to play. They have to understand what that role is and they have to play that role to a high degree of efficiency. A lot of times when you have roles, everybody thinks that their role may not be important because some roles are more important than others, but every role is important, every player on this team is important and I want them to understand that. I want them to be good teammates, both on the field and in the community. I want them to understand what being a good teammate is, how you have to trust the guy next to you, how you have to trust the guy behind you, because when you can do that, then your team can operate efficiently. That’s what I want for our team, to be able to operate efficiently week-in and week-out, which will give us the best chance to win. Also, those guys in that locker room, I want them to understand that they have a responsibility in the job that they have, and that responsibility is to the Chiefs, that responsibility is to their families and that responsibility is to themselves. I tell them all the time, I say, ‘You are responsible for you,’ because we all have decisions that we have to make, things that come up, and I want them to make the right decisions, to make good decisions and understand who it impacts if they do not make the right decision or they do not make a good decision. I want them to understand that. Along with that, I want those guys to be strong, I want them to be tough, I want them to be physical, I want them to be aggressive, I want them to be tenacious, I want them to be hard-playing. Now, did I leave anything out? Smart, OK, yes, definitely. I should have had that at the first of the list, top of the list. Smart, yes, we do need smart players because this game is just not a brute-strength game; there’s a game of strategy involved, and all of these guys are involved in that game of strategy. I think one of the things that helps in that game of strategy that you have to play is that you have to be fundamentally sound, so I believe in fundamentals. Every position has a skill set of fundamentals that they have to master, so we have to make sure that we give them a good foundation that they can go into battle with to play the game on Sundays. If they master those fundamentals and techniques, then that will help them when the going gets tough, and the going does get tough in the fourth quarter when you’re tired or you’re going against one of those guys who decided to bring his lunch pail that day and you know you’ve got a tough battle every time the ball is snapped. Those fundamentals can help get you over the hump. They can help get you through, so I’m a strong believer in fundamentals. So, we’re going to work on fundamentals and develop fundamentals as we try to develop the players on this team.
“We do have a good group of young men on this team that have some substance, as I mentioned, and going forward, I think that I’m looking forward to working with them. I’ve worked with them for three weeks now and I’m excited about the way they responded and how we went forward, so I’m looking forward to going forward with these young men as we go down the road. The thing that I can tell you is the plan that’s in place and the process that we work, that you have to go through, we’re going to go through that, but we’re going to work very hard day-in and day-out to make the fans of the Chiefs proud of what we’re able to do. Like I tell the players, do the very best that you can do and then we’ll let the chips fall where they may. I think that goes for me as well. I’m going to do the very best that I can do. I’m going to try to make Mr. Hunt, Mr. Pioli and the Chiefs Nation; I’m going to try to make them proud of the choice that they made. With that, I know that you might have some questions. I thought I would answer those questions ahead of time, but I decided not to because I know that we have some player questions, some coaching staff questions and all of those things, so at this time I will open it up to you.”
Q: Who is going to be your offensive coordinator?
CRENNEL: “Alright, now, part of this process is we have to go through. Scott and I, like he said, we’ve known each other for a while. I’ve seen what Scott has been able to do in the role that he plays, and I think that we’re going to be able to work very well together. I think that’s one of the intriguing things about this job and about having Scott as the general manager, so we’re going to collaborate on what we think is best for the Chiefs. With his input and with my input, we will choose someone, whether it’s in the building or outside the building, to do that. I think right now it’s a little early for me to be able to sit up here and say I know exactly who it’s going to be because to be truthful with you, I don’t know who it’s going to be. Like I said, it could be in the building, it could be outside the building, but we’re going to do our homework and then we’re going to come up with who we think is the best candidate.”
Q: What did you learn from your last head coaching job that you will do differently here as the Chiefs head coach?
CRENNEL: “Any time you sit in the head coaching seat, you gain a tremendous amount of experience, so that experience that I’ve gained from my last situation I think will benefit me tremendously in this situation. I think here at the Chiefs, they have a good history. We have good ownership, we have a plan in place that we plan to work and improve, so I’m going to use all of those experiences that I had in the past to try to be the best that I can be, which will allow the Chiefs to be the best that they can be.”
Q: Will you hire a defensive coordinator or will you handle that too?
CRENNEL: “That’s part of that process that we’re going to go through. We’re going to look at everything and talk through everything and try to figure out what’s best for the Chiefs to do. If we determine that it’s best for me to do the job, then I’ll do the job. If not, then we’ll go through that process and name someone else.”
Q: You mentioned the Cleveland experience. Was that a good experience for you looking back? Are you glad to have gone through that to get you ready for this?
CRENNEL: “Yes, because probably if I hadn’t gone through that experience, I wouldn’t be sitting here now. I think one of the things that hopefully was intriguing about my candidacy was that I had been a head coach before. When you’re in the seat for the first time, there are a lot of things that happen that even though you’re an assistant and you think you have all the answers and know exactly what is going to happen, you don’t know what is going to happen because things occur every day that you’re not quite ready for. So, you have to learn to deal with them. I think that’s one of the things that helped me in these last three games, having had that head coaching experience, knowing what to expect, anticipating some things so that allowed us to put a decent product on the field.”
Q: Scott, knowing your relationship with Bill Belichick and knowing that one stop does not define a coach, how much did you lean on that during this process?
PIOLI: “I don’t know if it was so much the experience with Bill, though that is in the back of my head. Again, seeing some different people, not just Bill, but other people who have had opportunities, experiences, and then again, in the second opportunity, being able to grow from it. I think the other thing is the past experience of working with RAC, or Romeo, in a couple different places and then having the time and the experience of watching him go through these last three weeks was interesting too because he was put in situations to see him be the head coach and do the head coaching job. As we talked each week during this three-game stretch, we even exchanged ideas and things that had come up in the past that were relevant maybe to the Cleveland situation that he was dealing with now, so it was a combination of those things.”
Q: How have you seen him change, grow and lean on his experience since you guys parted ways in New England?
PIOLI: “We had experiences in New York (Jets), we had experiences in New England, and we’ve had experiences here. I think there are a lot of different ways where we’ve both grown, changed, evolved. There are some conversations that happened in the last three weeks clearly that he and I had never had before because there are conversations between the general manager and the head coach, dealing with different situations that are just beyond the normal day-to-day conversations that you’ll have or the football conversations you’ll have with an assistant coach. We had to deal with certain situations where players had questions or players had situations where we had to not only make a decision or he had to make a decision, but we shared different ideas about more impactful things that really affected the organization and the team for a game that you wouldn’t normally have with an assistant coach or a coordinator, just because those conversations are very different.”
Q: Romeo, you are immensely popular in the locker room. The players really were pulling for you. Are you a “players’ coach?”
CRENNEL: “I’m not exactly sure what a players’ coach is. Sometimes, I think players think that a coach who is on their side is a players’ coach or who always rules in favor of them may be a players’ coach. Now, I know that that’s not always the case with me. I think that basically I’m a good guy. I think this is what players appreciate: players appreciate honesty; players appreciate you telling them like it is. They don’t always want to hear it, but that’s what they appreciate and that’s what I try to do to the players. I try to tell them what I believe, what I feel and how I think it should be done. So, I think that that’s what they appreciate, that I will be fair with them. They don’t always like it, they’re not crazy about it, but they appreciate it. They’d rather be told the truth than to be lied to or beat around the bush with them. They don’t want that. Whether I’m a players’ coach or not, I’m not exactly sure. A lot of times what happens is when there’s change, you like the change because there’s change. Now, after I sit in this seat for a while, they might not think I’m a players’ coach.”
Q: Was Romeo’s personality needed in this situation?
PIOLI: “Again, I’m not sure what a players’ coach is either because if you ask different people they have different definitions. Here is what I do know: Romeo is genuinely a tremendous human being and an incredibly honest human being. I also know and have been around him long enough, including these last three weeks, I think where he surprised some other people. He believes in accountability, and the players want accountability, the players believe like RAC says; they don’t always appear to want accountability, but players want to be led. Football players want to be led and there is a great deal of accountability and I’m not sure what the definition of a player’s coach is but what he is, RAC is honest, truthful, he’s hardworking, incredibly hardworking actually, and he’s going to hold this team accountable and he’s going to hold the players accountable and he’s going to hold his assistant coaches accountable and truthfully, he is going to hold me accountable and that’s and important thing and part of the relationship and the partnership that we have, is that we have mutual accountability to one another.”
Q: There seems to be a bit of a perception that because of your history with Romeo it was a forgone conclusion that he would be hired. How much is that the case?
PIOLI: “When we first made the change we talked to Romeo – Clark and I talked to Romeo – and we told Romeo at that point in time that he is in serious consideration for the head coach. And as we talked about, the three of us talked about at that point in time, we felt an obligation to the Kansas City Chiefs, the fans, the players and anyone who loves and cares about the Kansas City Chiefs that we were going to be very thorough in this process, and we were. There was no forgone conclusion who it was going to be because there were people out there that we didn’t know, that we needed to interview and we went out and talked to well over half a dozen people. This needed to be a thorough process and I think one of the things, not to talk too much about family business, but I think one of the things RAC said at the time was I want you to go out and talk to other people because if you make this decision I want you to know that you are making the right decision. So really, I wouldn’t say that it was a forgone conclusion. And yes, I have known RAC for quite a while, actually I met RAC, he doesn’t remember this probably as well as I do, he remembers it but not all the details – I met RAC actually when I met Bill Belichick back in the mid 1980s so I’ve known RAC for quite a while. We worked together like I said for a number of different years and obviously there is a little bit of family history too. I recently saw a picture of RAC, a great picture with a great mustache with my wife when she was only 10 years old. It’s a shot from Texas Tech that is quite the image actually. I’ll sell that to someone out here too.”
Q: How important were the last three games in arriving at this decision?
PIOLI: “Well I think the three games had a lot to do with where we arrived at this decision. Again, I’m not going to sit here and compare what was happening, what wasn’t happening. To me, what was more important, what was happening in the now, in the moment, and I think some of the things we saw was there was a great deal of accountability and consistency. There was also a different energy from the football team, for whatever those reasons are, so yes a lot had to do with those last three weeks.
Q: Romeo indicated that you had a vision for building this team. Can you share that with us?
HUNT: “When I became chairman of the club five or six years ago, one of the things that I mentioned at that time is that I wanted us to be a team that drafted well and developed the players that we drafted. I think going all the way back to 2008 and some of the picks before that, we have a number of young players who are a part of the core of this football team and we’ve made an effort the last couple of years to resign some of those guys as their contracts come up and I think we really have a foundation as Romeo mentioned that we can build this football team off of and one that I believe realistically has a chance to win a championship. One of the things that I learned about Romeo during the last three weeks and also during the interview is although he portrays a very calm demeanor, he is an incredibly competitive person and that came out I think during the last three games of the season and we were just this close to making the playoffs with Romeo and the helm. During our interview I asked him a question, something along the lines of ‘Romeo, why do you want to be the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs’ and he said because I want to win a Super Bowl as the head coach. And that spoke volumes to me and that’s the kind of person that I want leading the franchise as we pursue of goal of winning a championship.”
Q: Who is going to be your quarterback?
PIOLI: “He’s going to do that as well.”
CRENNEL: [Laughter] “No, I’m not able to do that so I’m eliminated from consideration. We have Matt [Cassel] and [Ricky] Stanzi under contract. Kyle [Orton] is an unrestricted free agent so we have to go through that process here again of evaluating our team, our team needs, and then go through the free agency process to see what happens there. See the thing about free agency is those unrestricted free agents, they have a choice. They can decide whether they want to return or whether they want to go elsewhere. And so we can have a desire to potentially get a guy back but if that guy decides he wants to go somewhere else there is nothing we can do about that. So right now we have Matt and we have Stanzi on the squad and we’ll see what happens after this free agency thing is over.”
Q: Do you want
CRENNEL: “Kyle did a tremendous job for us and I’m probably not sitting here if Kyle hadn’t done the job that he did and I’m very appreciative of that. I’m also appreciative of that fact that he is an unrestricted free agent and we have to go through the process you know. I would be unfair to him not to say that I appreciated what he did for me. And I’m not going to say that I didn’t appreciate it but the situation is the situation and we have two quarterbacks under contract, he’s not under contract so we’ll play it out, we’ll see what happens.”
Q: Can you win with
CRENNEL: “Matt Cassel has won here. I mean we’ve been to a playoff with Matt Cassel so I don’t think that Matt Cassel has fallen off of the wagon overnight. I think he’s a good talent, a good quarterback and he’s taken us to a playoff so I anticipate that he can do it again.”
Q: Do you see any realistic scenario where Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel are on the roster next season?
CRENNEL: “Well you know that still has to be determined. A lot of that will have to do with what Kyle feels because he is unrestricted. If he was under contract and we had both of them here I think it would be more of a dilemma for me than it is right now. But he’s unrestricted and he’s not under contract so we’ll have to see how the free agency thing plays out.”
Q: What did you learn from your first hiring process with Todd Haley that you may have applied to the hiring process of Romeo?
PIOLI: “I’ve learned a lot, not only through that process of hiring but I’ve learned a lot over the last three years. And I think I said this when I first took over the job and I think I said it at the last press conference we had, there are a lot of ways I can do my job better and I’m going to do my job better. And there are things that I don’t even know of today that I need to do better that are going to need to be better when we have a conversation three months from now. I think there was a chance and ability to be more thorough at this point in time from a timing standpoint, to figure out and interview more people and talk to more people than we had that the last time. And there were a lot of things that were not only learned during the hiring process but over the course of the last three years.”
Q: Romeo, personnel-wise how far away are the Chiefs from winning a Super Bowl?
CRENNEL: “I don’t know that you can ever say that you know definitively how far away a team might be. I think we have a good nucleus in the locker room but every year is a different year in the NFL because of the fact that there is free agency, there is a salary cap that you have to manage, there are draft choices that get added to the team so every year you have to build a new team. You’ve got a nucleus in place but when those new players get added or some players leave you have to rebuild that team chemistry that you have and that’s why I have to harp on team and let guys know that team is important so that we can build that chemistry quicker, and the quicker we can build that chemistry, the better chance we have of becoming a championship team. I was thinking back about teams that I’ve been on that are good teams and when you have a team, back when I was with the Giants and with New England and we were able to go to Super Bowls, that second Giant team and we went in 1990, we were a good football team and we kind of felt like going in that we were going to be a good team but there was no guarantee that we were going to win a championship because you have to play every Sunday. In New England, the first championship, no one ever thought we would have any kind of chance to win the Super Bowl but we got hot at the right time and we won the Super Bowl. The next year, we tried to do too much and we were out of the playoffs. And then the next two years we were able to go and win championships and those last two years we felt like we had a good team, had a good quarterback in place, a good defense and we were able to go and win championships. This team, we are still working on it. I think that we have to, all the time you are always trying to add more depth to your team, more competition to your team and I think that’s one of the things that we have to do: add more depth and competition because competition makes everybody better.”
Q: Scott, did you get any calls or outside interest from other organizations in Romeo?
PIOLI: “To be fair to any other teams, I wouldn’t comment on what other teams did or didn’t do. I don’t think that would be fair out of respect to other clubs, so I don’t think I would speak about someone else’s business.”
Q: It’s been referenced a couple of times that this team was just a play or two away from making the playoffs. Was that a consideration in terms of wanting to keep continuity by keeping Romeo?
PIOLI: “Well again, talking about the many reasons why, there are a lot of reasons why this is the right hire. I think continuity and consistency, having Romeo as the head coach and having, you know we can talk about the staff some more, but having things like that in place really does add to the likelihood of success by having someone who has intimate knowledge of the team, who the players also have intimate knowledge of and anytime you can create or have consistency, especially when you believe that things are headed in the right direction, being able to create that along with bringing new energy, I think that’s a positive.”
Q: Are there any in-house candidates for offensive coordinator such as Jim Zorn or anybody else on the offensive staff?
CRENNEL: “Now, you want me to name names and I’m not going to name names. Like I said, we are going to do our research and we are going to consider everybody – guys who are in the building, guys who are out of the building – and then we’ll make a decision that we think is the best.”
Q: Is Bill Muir still a part of the coaching staff?
CRENNEL: “Yes, he is.”
Q: Do you anticipate some turnover on your staff?
CRENNEL: “I’m not going to be able to say that either because we haven’t gone through that process yet. Let us go through the process.”