The speculation persisted throughout the latter days of Todd Haley's tenure in Kansas City that a strained relationship with general manager Scott Pioli wasn't built for the long-haul. The signs were clear enough that Haley reportedly even considered resigning as recently as last week.
Despite what appeared to be writing on the wall for many, his players insisted the move to fire Haley still came as a surprise, according to The Kansas City Star.
âIt was a little bit of a shocker,â running back Jackie Battle told The Star. âTodd is a very passionate coach and wants to win. It caught me off guard a little bit. We went to the playoffs last year and won the AFC West, but I guess the teamâs moving on.â
While addressing reporters to announce Haley's dismissal, Pioli said he never got the sense the coach had lost his locker room. Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson stressed that was indeed the case.
âWe definitely believed in him,â Johnson said. âMy best wishes are for him, and I hope he does well in the future.â
Haley is hardly to blame for the injuries to the team's two best players -- running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry -- or the roster put together by Pioli, who has accepted his share of the responsibility. So Johnson might be speaking for many of the Chiefs when he refused to place the blame on Haley.
âIâm a player, so I never blame a coordinator or a head coach,â Johnson said. âAt the end of the day, itâs the players out there playing, and we have to make the plays.â