Call it fear and loathing in Kansas City.
An incredible story by Kent Babb in the Kansas City Star details the paranoia former Chiefs coach Todd Haley and colleagues felt simply walking through the halls of the team's office complex.
The recently fired Haley believes the Chiefs went to great lengths to eavesdrop on him and other team employees. The former head coach had a sneaking suspicion that the Chiefs bugged a number of rooms in the team's practice facility.
Haley thought Chiefs management had the ability to monitor employees' conversations, according to the Star. Fired during the 2011 regular season, Haley was so paranoid that he believed his personal cell phone -- not issued by the team, had been meddled with.
Over his final year as coach, Haley completely stopped talking on the phone and regularly checked around his office for listening devices.
The Chiefs have vehemently denied reports they monitor employees. CEO Clark Hunt told Babb, "We needed a culture that pursued excellence. One that valued honesty and integrity, one where the employees would be held accountable."
The Star reports that ever since former Patriots executive Scott Pioli landed in Kansas City in January of 2009, massive staff turnover has taken place and strong insecurity about executives watching and interfering with employees has run rampant.
Longtime Chiefs employees in non-football capacities were no long allowed on certain floors after Pioli took over. Employees with windows facing the practice fields were forced to keep their shades down during practice. The team sent a security guard around the business office to interrupt business if he found a shade raised.
Babb spoke with one former employee who said, "It got to a point where people just kept their heads down, didn’t want to go outside the box and jeopardize getting in trouble."
This isn't the first time Pioli has been tied into an NFL spying story; he was working with Bill Belichick in 2007 when the Patriots were punished by the NFL for "Spygate" in a game against the Jets. During that scandal, a New England video assistant secretly filmed Jets coaching signals.
The Star reports the Chiefs do have the equipment that allows them to monitor phone calls and emails from workers. Chiefs president Mark Donovan denied conversations are being monitored or that the practice facility is bugged.
"You may think it’s harmless," Donovan told the Star when asked about some of the measures, such as lowering window shades. "Other people may think it’s very harmful to our competitive advantage ... It’s about winning."
Spygate II is not the only issue facing Pioli and the Chiefs. Last year, three of the team's former high-ranking staffers sued the organization for age discrimination. In the suit, filed in December, one 52-year-old longtime team employee alleged she overheard Pioli telling a coworker that he planned to "get rid of everyone who was with Carl Peterson, especially anyone over the age of 40."
The team vigorously denied these charges.
Since Pioli took over, Chiefs are 21-27. They will enter the 2012 season with former Patriots coordinator Romeo Crennel as head coach.
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