Scott Pioli remains on the Kansas City Chiefs payroll, but Chiefs owner Clark Hunt literally and figuratively shoved his general manager to the sidelines this week.
And in doing so, Hunt took steps this week to take greater control over his family's NFL franchise that was founded 50 years ago by his legendary father, Lamar Hunt, who died in 2006.
Many fans want Pioli gone. Hunt said he won't decide on Pioli's future until he selects the new Kansas City Chiefs head coach, which he hopes will be in a matter of days.
But Hunt made clear Monday that it was he, not Pioli, who decided to fire head coach Romeo Crennel after the team ended 2-14 and clinched the first pick in the NFL draft.
"It was my decision, although it was one that Scott agreed with as well," Hunt said.
He also made clear that he, not Pioli, would select Crennel's replacement.
"We are going to have a search committee. I am not going into the dynamics of the search committee," Hunt said, adding it would have "internal and external" members. "We are very well organized."
He said it would be "a very efficient and thorough search," that he hopes to complete in a matter of days, and certainly within two weeks.
But two decisions by Hunt could perhaps reveal more about Pioli's future in Kansas City than anything else.
For the first time in franchise history, Hunt said the coach will report to the owner rather than the general manager.
Hunt did not reveal how he would referee disagreements between his general manager and coach.
And when it came time to tell the players about Crennel's firing, Hunt let Crennel first break the news, and then he spoke. Pioli wasn't in the room and has made no public comments this week.
Hunt said he has much love, admiration and affection for Crennel. He said firing Crennel was a touch decision, but the NFL is a performance-based business. And his next comments were perhaps ominous for Pioli's future in Kansas City.
"Nobody gets a passing grade on the way the team performed this year," Hunt said. "And that includes Scott, and he knows that. And he takes responsibility for it."
Some believe Hunt hasn't dismissed Pioli yet because they are working out a severance deal, but Pioli's departure will come by Feb. 1.
But Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King said Tuesday that he doesn't think Hunt has made a decision yet about Pioli.
"I don't think Clark Hunt knows yet," King wrote on Twitter.
In an interview with KCTV sports anchor Michael Coleman, Hunt said he is seeking a proven leader to replace Crennel. He said he wants a coach with integrity, strong football knowledge and one who will hold himself and his team accountable.
He reiterated that he was "extremely disappointed about our results this year,," and he felt the fans pain.
"I kept waiting for it to turn around and it just never turned," Hunt said."We played poorly throughout the season ... I was miserable."
Hunt said he like the fans wants to return to a packed Arrowhead crowd lustily cheering their team in the playoffs.
"I want nothing more than for Kansas City to be successful on the field," he said.
To read more about the firing of Crennel, click here.
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