CLARK HUNT: “Good afternoon everybody. I want to thank you all for joining us on short notice today. This has been a very difficult day for the Chiefs, as we’ve parted ways this morning with Head Coach Todd Haley. These types of decisions are never easy, but ultimately, we felt that we had to do what was in the best interest of the football team. As I’ve said many times before, our goal is to build a team that can consistently compete for championships, and one that our fans can be proud of. While there have been some bright spots throughout this season, it is clear to me that we are not making enough progress toward that goal. I do believe that we have a strong foundation in place with a core group of talented players, and I am confident in the future of the team. Before I turn it over to Scott [Pioli], I want to thank our fans for their patience and continued support. We are committed to building a team that they can be proud of year-in and year-out, and we will not rest until we realize that goal.”
SCOTT PIOLI: “Like Clark said, this is a difficult day, difficult morning. Clark and I visited with Todd this morning and talked with him in private and let him know what our decision was and what direction we were going to head. This is, again, a difficult decision. Things like this are never easy. They’re never easy for the individual, their family, and truthfully, for the team, the fans and everybody else that’s involved and everyone that loves the Chiefs. That being said, we had the conversation with Todd. We talked to him. We then met with the staff, and after meeting with the staff, we had a conversation with Romeo Crennel and I do want to let you all know that moving forward that Romeo Crennel is going to be our head coach. Again, this is a difficult day for everybody, and we’ll open it up for questions.”
Q: When did you guys decide this was going to be the move that you were going to make?
PIOLI: “Clark and I officially decided this morning. We had talked a little bit last night. The firm belief, I think, that we have is during emotional times, it’s never a good time to make a decision and or overreact to things immediately during that moment. We got together this morning; we talked about it and made the decision, then shortly thereafter we got together with Todd.”
Q: What was the final straw?
PIOLI: “I don’t think there is a final straw in every decision that we try to make, not only Clark and I, the organization, the coaches. I know that we’ve talked about this in the past, that it’s never one thing. I think it’s an accumulation of information and thoughts. When we finally got down to talking about where things where, that this was the best decision in order to create more consistency and progress.”
Q: Why now? Why not next week or wait until the end of the season?
PIOLI: “Something that we did after every game as a group collectively – Clark, Todd, myself – we got together, the three of us. Over time, the decision was going to be made at some point as to what we were going to do, and I don’t think there was any one thing that said, ‘This is why we’re going to do it.’”
Q: About the timing, it’s two weeks before Christmas, the man has five children. Was it really that necessary for the timing now rather than the end of the year? Was there something about doing this that paved the way for something you felt had to happen later that you couldn’t wait three more weeks?
HUNT: “Just to build on what Scott said, timing in these situations is always difficult. There never seems to be a right time. We just felt that the inconsistent play that the team had experienced, really throughout the season, including during yesterday’s game made today the right day to do it. We want to give the guys a chance to finish the season on a high note. Mathematically, we’re still alive in the playoffs. We wanted the guys to go out and face the Green Bay Packers and play to the best of their ability, and we thought a change was important at this time.”
PIOLI: “In respect to some, there’s never a good time for a decision like this. There really isn’t. It’s never an easy decision and there’s never a good time for it. Again, I understand the question. There’s never a good time.”
Q: Did his sideline demeanor factor into this at all, especially yesterday getting the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty?
PIOLI: “No. Again, there was no specific event. There’s not anything where we can say or I can say, ‘This is the specific reason as to why this is being done and why the change is being made.’”
Q: What was Todd’s reaction when you spoke with him this morning?
PIOLI: “Again, I don’t want to get into what Todd’s reaction was. It was a private conversation and I have a lot of respect for Todd and I don’t want to characterize what his reaction was. I’ll say this: I know it was very professional, collectively. Without speaking about Todd specifically, I think everyone was professional and that would probably be the best way to characterize it, professional and respectful.”
Q: Scott, do you feel like you gave him enough talent to win with this year?
PIOLI: “I think we have a locker room that not only has talent; I think we also have a good makeup of character in that locker room. That being said, I do believe what is abundantly clear is that ultimately that is my job and we’re clearly not at a spot where we need to be with our record the way it is and with us being in the position that we’re in. So, clearly, I need to do my job better as well. I do want to say that I believe in the players that we have here and I need to do my job better and we need to continue to improve this roster and improve the depth on this football team.”
Q: How would you characterize your relationship with Todd Haley as the season went on up until the decision to fire him?
PIOLI: “I was asked that question, I think, a couple weeks ago, two, three weeks ago. We had a good working relationship, we really did. We communicated as we needed to communicate, just like we did in the beginning years. I would say it was a good working relationship. We worked and talked about work as we always did from the day he started here back in 2009 and we started here together.”
Q: What is the hope that Romeo Crennel brings to the table that was missing or lacking prior to this move?
PIOLI: “I wouldn’t characterize it as what’s missing or what’s lacking. Romeo is going to do things the way that Romeo knows how to do them. He’s been a head coach in the National Football League. He has a way of doing things that some things I’m sure are similar, some things are probably different. We’ll find that out. Again, I’ve not worked with Romeo when he has been a head coach. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out and see what’s similar and what’s different. But I know this: I know that Romeo is very similar to Todd. Todd is extremely passionate about football. He’s passionate about this football team. He’s passionate about these players. He was very focused on winning. I think Romeo has a lot of those very qualities.”
Q: Will he be a candidate for the permanent coaching position?
PIOLI: “We talked with Romeo and I think he’s someone we’re going to definitely be talking to. We’re trying to take care of today. There’s a lot of moving parts right now. We asked Romeo and offered it to him and he accepted, and I think it’d be safe to say that he will be one of the people that we’re considering moving forward.”
Q: Clark, how much did Todd Haley’s demeanor or his antics on the sideline bother you as an owner?
HUNT: “Every coach has a personality, and over the years we’ve seen different personalities win, whether it’s a Tony Dungy on one end of the spectrum or whoever the coach is who is making the most noise on the other end. There are a lot of different ways to win in the National Football League, and Todd was always himself, and I don’t fault him for that at all. He is a very passionate person who is very competitive, and that energy that he brought to the team I thought was a positive.”
Q: As you look at the process at what may happen next in looking for a new head coach, one of the issues is there are only two teams looking for a head coach right now. Does that help you in some way, getting a head start if that’s the direction you choose to go?
PIOLI: “On a day like today, I find it a little bit difficult to think that it is an advantage or something exceedingly positive, but it does put us in a situation to talk to other people. But again, the primary focus right now and the energy that is going to be spent today, tomorrow and the next four days is going to be focused on getting ready to play the Green Bay Packers and doing everything that Romeo and the coaching staff need. Is there a potential opportunity? Maybe there is, but we’re not looking at just 2012. 2012 is important. I think what’s important is understanding that mathematically there’s still an opportunity here and the fact that we have a football team that is going to be playing on Sunday and we need to get ready to help our coaches beat Green Bay.”
Q: Among the in-house candidates, why was Romeo best? You have other guys on the staff who have been head coaches, you have some others who presumably could have been. What was it with Romeo?
PIOLI: “Because I think there’s some of the same things. Romeo’s approach… I know the respect that Romeo commands from the players in the locker room. Like you said, there’s a number of people who have some head coaching experience. Emmitt [Thomas] has been an interim coach, Jim [Zorn] has been a head coach, Mo [Maurice Carthon] has been around long enough. There are a number of people to consider who have great qualities. I also think that Romeo has done this, he’s done it recently and I think watching how the players react and respond to Romeo had something to do with it.”
Q: Clark, what are you looking for in a head coach?
HUNT: “Scott and I had a brief conversation about that here in the last 24 hours, and in a lot of ways, I think some of the qualities that Todd brought to the job in terms of being a competitor, somebody who is passionate, somebody who is a good leader, somebody who is very smart, somebody who will work well with Scott, who has assured vision for the type of football players they’re looking for. Those would be some of the things.”
Q: By your actions today, you are saying we made a mistake when we hired Todd, there was something missing, what was missing?
PIOLI: “I don’t perceive Todd, I want to be careful, I don’t perceive Todd Haley as a mistake. Todd Haley is a good football coach, I’ll say that. I think what we need to do is figure out what direction we are headed in and how we are going to continue to make progress, how we can get some consistency back and again, here is what is abundantly clear and I’ve talked to Clark about this, there is accountability on my part as well. I made the decision, or Clark gave me the ability to make the decision on hiring the head coach. We are at a place where this didn’t work out and I need to be held accountable, I will be held accountable and we’ll continue to move forward.”
Q: Were you hearing something from the fans or seeing something from the players that made you feel you needed to do this in spite of last year’s success or in spite of the injuries this year?
HUNT: “We definitely have had one of those years where we have had a number of injuries and injuries to key players. However most years that’s typical in the National Football League and as a team you have to find a way to overcome that and we just weren’t able to do that this year. Our play was up and down the entire season, at times it was up and down during a given game and I think those really contributed to our decision, the fact that our play was not consistent at all.”
Q: When did you start thinking that maybe a change should be made at head coach?
HUNT: “This is a subject that Scott and I really just addressed in the last week. Clearly throughout the season as we had the swings from being successful to not being successful, we tried to evaluate what was going on but we really didn’t get around to feeling that we needed to make a decision on the head coach until the last week.”
Q: Scott was there a feeling that Todd lost his players in the effort they were giving?
PIOLI: “I didn’t get that sense; I saw a team that competed pretty hard week in and week out, last week they competed hard. I don’t think he had lost the football team, no I didn’t.”
Q: Scott would you be open to a coach that would want some form of player control or would that be ruled out?
PIOLI: “I’m not sure I understand the question.”
Q: Some coaches want more control about what players come in versus others, would you be open to somebody like that?
PIOLI: “Yes I’m open to it. That’s pretty much, I mean that’s how we kind of did things here now. In every organization someone’s going to have the final say so but one of the things that I know that I was, and I’ve said this time and time again and even at the time of hiring Todd, I thought Todd was a very good evaluator of talent and the fact that he was that person, he was involved. So yes, I’m open to it because that’s what we’ve done the last three years is having, I can’t make final decisions on things like that on my own, so yes. The answer is yes.”
Q: Scott, how long until this program can be competitive to the point where you want it to be?
PIOLI: “Again I think we’ve made some progress the last couple of years, and then we’ve hit a point where some of that progress has slowed down. I think we have again, a good, strong core of players here and I don’t put time frames on things but clearly I need to get to work too. Because if we are going to be a good football team and continue to get better and consistently compete for championships then I need to make sure we have a good roster.”
Q: Scott, did you agree with the quarterback playing time situation since
PIOLI: “It was not an issue at all. What we were doing was not an issue with me and I know the first week that Todd, one of the things we talked, I talk with the coaches, I talked with Todd and the coaches on a week to week basis when we were making the decisions and they were making decisions on things like that. And one of the things that was in the back of our head too with the
Q: Clark, how good of a job is this, how easy of a sell will it be?
HUNT: “I’d like to think that our head coaching job would be very attractive. Certainly the history of the organization, our tremendous fan base, Arrowhead Stadium and many of the great people we have associated with the franchise, I think would make this attractive really to any head coach.”
Q: Have you contacted anyone?
HUNT: “No, we have not.”
Q: You both used the word consistency, lack of consistency. It would appear that your opinion was that it didn’t have anything to do with a lack of talent, but a lack of coaching.
PIOLI: “No I think that’s how you are framing it. It’s something that Todd and I talked about and Todd talked about publically every week. It was a matter of our consistency and I would say I think we have an excellent coaching staff. And clearly, I think I’ve said this before, I need to do my job better. We need to have a better roster and I feel that we have a good, solid core of players and clearly it’s not good enough and I need to do my job better.”
Q: Why was your team inconsistent?
PIOLI: “There’s a lot of different variables for a lot of different, a lot of different reasons. A lot of different reasons.”
Q: A handful, two, three?
PIOLI: “A handful of reason.”
Q: An example?
PIOLI: “There’s a lot of reasons and we discuss those internally and again, without getting into specifics, I really don’t want to get into the specifics and some of the things, again, I do know that part of it did have to do with injuries and replacing players but that’s not the sole or exclusive thing that without getting into details and conversations the reasons that the coaches have felt and I’ve felt.”
Q: Do you think the rumors about Haley’s future had any effect on what happened on the field for the players?
PIOLI: “I don’t, again without speaking to the players, I don’t have those kinds of relationships with players where I ask them questions or they give me, so I don’t know that would be purely speculative.”
Q: Clark, can you talk about the job Scott has done and are you confident he can do the things he says he is going to do going forward to rebuild this franchise?
HUNT: “As I mentioned earlier, I do have a lot of confidence in Scott and I do believe he’s going to help us be successful over the long run. Probably no one is harder on himself or holds himself more accountable than Scott. So as hard working as he is, I know he will double his efforts to make sure we are better next year than we were this year and better the year after that.”
Q: When would you like to have a new coach?
PIOLI: “What I want to do, what we want to do is get ready to play the Green Bay Packers and try to beat the Green Bay Packers, and then get ready for the next game and try to win that game and then try to win the next game. And this will be an ongoing process and we’ve got time to make a decision and again we’ve got someone upstairs that’s going to be working very hard who’s going to be considered as well.”
Q: Clark, do you listen to fans, do you hear what they have to say and the potential for ticket sales to drop, how much did that factor into this decision?
HUNT: “We’ll take this as the last question. [It] really didn’t have a bearing at all on the decision. I obviously value the support of our fans tremendously and our goals as I mentioned earlier is to put a team on the field that can win a championship and really that’s our sole focus. As it relates to ticket sales or whatever this decisions doesn’t really have anything to do with that.”