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Getting acquainted

Chiefs listen intently as new coach is introduced

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Friday January 12, 2001 5:42 PM
Updated: Friday January 12, 2001 11:59 PM

  Tony Gonzalez Tony Gonzalez was the third tight end in NFL history with 90 receptions in a season. Stephen Dunn/Allsport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Dick Vermeil brought up a lot of players' names when he was introduced on Friday as the new head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

None of the names belonged to Kansas City players, though -- not to quarterback Elvis Grbac, not even to tight end Tony Gonzalez or guard Will Shields, the Chiefs' two Pro Bowl representatives.

Vermeil, who led the St. Louis Rams to last year's Super Bowl title before his brief second retirement from coaching, referred early and often to players from that team -- running back Marshall Faulk and wide receivers Az Hakim, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, among others.

But when Vermeil was asked which players he had already identified as key components of his Kansas City team, he demurred.

"It's hard for me to say," Vermeil said. "I don't want to say something that I'd have to take back."

Vermeil did praise the Chiefs as a team, despite their 7-9 record in 2000.

 

"I came here for a charity, before they played Carolina late in the season [Kansas City won 15-14 on Dec. 10]. I watched them play, and I enjoyed watching them play," Vermeil said. "They played very, very physical and very, very hard. I was impressed with a lot of guys, but to single out any one player is tough to do."

One of the two players who attended Friday's news conference said Vermeil's wait-and-see attitude was to be expected from any new coach.

"He hasn't been around. He hasn't seen the personality of guys. All he knows is what he's seen on TV," wide receiver Derrick Alexander said. "A guy can impress a coach in training camp, do the things a new coach wants to see, and he can go out and take somebody's job."

A few jobs are likely to be taken, Vermeil said, if the Chiefs are to be the third team he leads to a Super Bowl.

"Nine players on the world championship St. Louis Rams were on that roster when we took over three years earlier," he said.

He added later, however, that, "If we were ever fortunate enough to go to the Super Bowl, I think there would be a higher percentage of people on this roster who would be there when we go."

Alexander, who led the Chiefs with 1,393 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches this past season, said he wouldn't mind seeing Vermeil install the same sort of wide-open offense the Rams used to win the Super Bowl.

"I think we've got the guys and the personnel to run the same kind of offense," he said. "But it depends on who the offensive coordinator is as to what kind of offense they bring to Kansas City."

The players weren't much affected, running back Donnell Bennett said, by the public dispute between the Chiefs and Rams over Vermeil's contract status. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue eventually had to settle the issue, ruling Wednesday that Kansas City owed St. Louis a second-round pick this season and a third-round pick in 2002.

"The thing we want to do is win," Bennett said. "It takes a good coach, a good philosophy, and an understanding of that philosophy to win. Now that all the extracurricular stuff is over, we can concentrate on what our business at hand is."


 
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