Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City Chiefs

I’ve often said that what you believe to be true is true for you, no matter how it plays out in the real world. A good example is Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who has this belief that he gets stronger during the second half of games. In an interview Hunt said he’s always been someone who gets stronger as games wear on. This is a powerful belief that has helped to make him the NFL’s rushing leader through the first four weeks of the season. Hunt believes he gets stronger and because of this belief he actually does get stronger.
A number of years ago, Missouri University’s football team was playing Oklahoma University and Oklahoma was a huge favorite since they had an All-American quarterback. With just a few minutes to go in the first half, Oklahoma was winning 21-0. But on the last play of the first half, Oklahoma’s All-American quarterback was injured and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher and was out for the rest of the game. When the second half started, Missouri seemed to have a different mindset. Even though they were still competing against the same Oklahoma defense that held them scoreless in the first half, they were able to score three times in the second half but eventually lost the game by a point, 21-20. What made the difference? Their “belief” they could win once the Oklahoma quarterback was out of the game. And the Oklahoma team more than likely believed that with their quarterback out of the game, they could lose…and they almost did.

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Tyreek Hill was fortunate that Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is a compassionate man who, himself, has been through some rough times with his own children. That compassion triggered his decision to give Hill a second chance. There are some pundits who believe that Reid is taking a huge risk, but he’s not. And here’s why: Not only has Tyreek Hill admitted the errors of his ways, and has promised that he’s going to come back as a “better man, be a better citizen.” Tyreek is also receiving: Counseling. That’s right, counseling. Now there are some who will look at that and say “so what?” – but history has proven that when athletes receive counseling, and are encouraged to confront their demons that they may have been carrying around since childhood, those athletes will elevate their performance to a new level. This is a result of their enhancing their feelings of self worth and also becoming more focused. Watch for Hill to not only be good at his job, but I predict, because of his counseling, he will be even better than before.

When Jamaal Charles fumbled twice last night during the Chiefs-Broncos game, it was as much the coaching staff’s fault (and the front office’s fault) as it was Jamaal’s.

Here’s why: Jamaal is a professional athlete but even professional athletes are human beings first, and then athletic performers. They have problems just like the rest of us mortals. And I’m not talking about deep-seated psychological problems. I’m referring to problems they might be having with their wives, or girlfriends, or financial problems, problems with a coach, or problems with a teammate. If they keep their problems bottled up, if they withhold them and don’t tell anyone about what’s bothering them, it will negatively affect their game during competition. They will not be focused and are more susceptible to fumbles, dropped passes, and missed tackles.

Former NFL coach Joe Gibbs realized this late in his career when he was negotiating an athlete’s contract and figured out the athlete, even though he was making millions of dollars a year, was having financial problems. Former NFL running back Eddie George, when Tiger Woods’ issues became public, stated: “Ninety percent of all NFL athletes are having extra-marital affairs.” If true, why doesn’t the coaching staff and front office do something about it?

Much has been written about the importance of the turnover/takeaway ratio in the NFL. Few however are able explain the reasons turnovers happen.

Some say it’s because the opposing team has focused their defensive efforts on the practice of ripping the ball out of the runner’s hands, or other reasons.

While there may be some truth to these theories, my experience working with athletes and players has made it clear that when athletes are carrying around unresolved issues in their lives, they are more prone to making mistakes. When they are withholding their feelings, when they have misdirected anger at their teammates or coaches, or when they’ve had an argument with their wives or girlfriends (or both) they are prone to fumbling the ball, or dropping a pass that hits them in the numbers, or jumping off sides, or, if the player is a quarterback, throwing multiple interceptions in a game.

The reason is simple: They are not focused.

And it all starts with the coaches and assistant coaches (and the front office) and how they interact with their players, how they listen to their players issues and personal problems, and the type of feedback program they have created internally that allows players to air their grievances (both personal and team related) without being punished.

It’s no coincidence that the NFL teams with the best turnover/takeaway ratio are successful, while those with the worst are not.

Very often when colleges and professional teams are looking for a new head coach they look for someone who is strong-willed, who is a take-charge type of guy and will instill the fear of G-d in his players. The Marine drill sergeant type who isn’t afraid to “kick a few butts” and will let the team know in no uncertain terms that it’s “my way or the highway.” This is the type of person a team should hire, right? Wrong!

The best head coaches are those coaches who have been through some type of adversity or tragedy in their personal lives that makes them have great empathy for their players. And that’s one of the most important characteristics a coach can have. When his players know he cares about them as human beings first and then as athletic performers, they’ll play their hearts out for him. And this is something a coach can’t fake. Either he has it, or he doesn’t. Here are three examples of coaches who have it:

Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2012, his oldest son Garrett, died of a heroin overdose.

Cuonzo Martin, men’s basketball coach at the University of California, is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in 1997 while playing professional basketball in an Italian League in Europe.

Clint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, is a former alcoholic and has a daughter who has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

All three of these coaches have been highly successful and the primary reason is because they have great empathy for their players. They don’t want their players to fear them. But rather, they want their players to know they love them.

I don’t get it. As I am writing this, it is Thursday evening and the Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Oakland Raiders on the radio. Notice I said “on the radio” because if you want to watch it on television you’re SOL (Sure Out of Luck) because in order to do so you must have a paid subscription to the NFL Network. Maybe they’re trying to boost their radio audience? Or maybe they’re just being hogs. But one thing is certain, there are a lot of frustrated fans who are missing the game on television because they don’t subscribe to the NFL Network. These are the same fans who have stuck with the Chiefs over the years no matter how many games they’ve won or lost. Many are the same fans who have season tickets and are happy to pay inflated costs just to attend the games, especially for food and soft drinks and beer. Shame on you Clark Hunt. I doubt that your father would have allowed this to happen. And if there’s anything to this “Karma” stuff, then I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Raiders win.

In the Kansas City Chiefs-San Diego Chargers game last Sunday, with only four seconds remaining on the clock, the Chiefs’ Ryan Succop trotted onto the field and then missed a 41-yard field goal.  But wait.  The Chargers had lined up with an illegal formation and had the refs seen it, the play would have been run again, but this time closer to the uprights. Sorry, said the refs, illegal formations are not reviewable. Excuse me?  I had always thought the purpose of a rule was to make sure that justice was served and that no team be allowed to win if they committed a rules violation.  Not so, said the NFL.  But had this rule not been in effect, Succop would have had a second chance, even closer to the uprights, and had he hit it, the Pittsburgh Pirates would have been in the playoffs.  If I were attending the post-season owners’ meeting, that’s one rule I would definitely recommend be changed.

I’ve always maintained that any NFL team who is going to play Denver at home are at a disadvantage because of the mile-high stadium UNLESS they arrive in Denver 3 or 4 days prior to game time so they can become acclimated to the high altitude. While watching the game on television last night, I noticed from time to time the camera showed Chiefs players sitting on the bench with oxygen masks. So I went to the Internet and the best I could determine was that the game was played November 17th and the Chiefs arrived in Denver November 16th. If this is true, it could be the reason why Payton Manning wasn’t sacked once in the entire game. The defensive linemen may have been too exhausted and gasping for breath.


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