Tapped phone lines. Bugged offices. Monitored emails.
It's the stuff of spy movies and, according to an eye-opening report in Sunday's edition of The Kansas City Star, it's a description of life with the Chiefs, a host of former employees claim.
The more than two dozen employees interviewed by The Star cite an extreme change in culture in Kansas City after Scott Pioli was hired as general manager in 2009. Pioli, who rose to prominence with coach Bill Belichick in New England, allegedly cites protection of privacy and intense attention to detail as tantamount in building a winning model.
But the widespread fear of being watched or listened to -- a persistent Big Brother vibe on Arrowhead Drive -- stands above all.
"The level of paranoia was probably the highest that I had ever seen it anywhere," a former high-ranking staffer told the newspaper. "... If you make the wrong step, you might not be able to pay your mortgage."
Some examples of the alleged atmosphere include:
» Former coach Todd Haley stopped talking on his personal cell phone during the past year -- fearing it to be bugged -- and repeatedly checked his office for listening devices.
» Certain floors and areas of the team facility were made unavailable for non-football employees.
» Non-football staffers with an office window facing the practice fields were ordered to draw their shades during practices. This included Chiefs president Mark Donovan.
» One former executive was sent to human resources for referring to Pioli by his last name. Pioli also had Donovan castigate department heads over a candy wrapper left in a stairwell for a week.
» Fearing they were being spied on, some employees set appointments with colleagues to meet outside the building for face-to-face conversations.