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Defining Leadership

Posted Dec 3, 2012

Crennel, Pioli and Gibbs add stability in difficult times

It was a weekend to forget and remember. What began as terrifying tragedy on Saturday morning was later used by the Kansas City Chiefs as a moment of triumph, highlighted by a 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

There are those of the opinion that the game should not have been played. After all, the Chiefs family had just lost two of its own and three more of its members (general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs) were in the vicinity when former player and friend LB Jovan Belcher took his own life.

All of a sudden, the thought of leading a team that was 1-10 on the season, winless at home and enduring criticism, seemed trivial compared to what the Chiefs family now faces.

Although Romeo Crennel and company have rallied the troops in the past, overcoming injury and defeating the unbeaten Green Bay Packers, as a few examples, absolutely nothing compares to the current situation. Nowhere in their job descriptions was there a script that could be followed. There was no protocol to follow. No glass case to break in the case of this emergency.

What could possibly allow a coach, his general manager and defensive coordinator to endure such horror and 30 hours later lead a team in front of not only its fans but the entire country?

“You have to rely on each other, rely on your family, your friends and your faith,” Crennel said. And the Chiefs head coach did just that and did it remarkably, to his players’ admiration.

“He’s been a rock for a lot of guys and he’s been the definition of a leader,” said Chiefs C Ryan Lilja, who fought back tears. “He’s been really consistent and you know he’s hurting, you know he’s hurting but he has a job to do and really, his job the last couple days was to lead this group of men not necessarily to win a football game, it was to help us cope. I don’t think you can ask for a better leader in that situation than what he’s done.”

Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki echoed the same sentiments about Crennel, Pioli and Gibbs.

“I couldn’t imagine what he went through, and Scott (Pioli) and coach Gibbs and for them to stand up in front of us and be strong and just be great leaders for us was unbelievable,” Moeaki admitted. "I just can’t imagine what they were going through and a huge part of yesterday’s win goes to them. They really stepped up for us and were there for us.”

The role of head coach doesn’t end after sixty minutes of football on Sunday afternoons. A head coach, better yet, a leader must also help manage the endless emotions within each of his players and according to Chiefs LB Brandon Siler, Crennel does just that.

“It’s tough dealing with this,” Siler said. “It’s tough getting all of us to deal with it. Everybody has to deal with it in their own way and he was there. So, I give him kudos. He’s the toughest out of all of us to be there and still have to go out and coach a team and win a game with a bunch of guys who are hurting also.”

So, should the game have been played? Yes, because the Chiefs fearless leader, who agreed with his team, said so.

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