Chiefs fire Crennel, restructure organization

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm •  Published: December 31, 2012
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"It has been by far the hardest year I've ever had as a professional," Hunt said. "I was miserable throughout the season, just in terms of what I was seeing. It was so hard on me because I want the team to succeed, not only for everyone in this building but most importantly for our fans. It just killed me that we weren't competitive. I hated it."

Crennel, whose career record as a head coach is 28-55, was hired in 2010 as defensive coordinator. Respected by his players, he was appointed interim coach last December when Pioli fired Todd Haley with three games left in the season.

Crennel immediately brought a sense of stability to a floundering franchise, defeating the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers and winning at Denver in the season finale.

With the support of the players, Pioli made Crennel the permanent coach a few weeks later, giving him another opportunity as a head coach after four failed seasons in Cleveland.

This season was a disappointment from the start, too. The Chiefs were blown out by the Falcons in their opener, trounced by the Bills and later lost eight consecutive games.

Empty seats began to multiply at Arrowhead Stadium, once one of the NFL's most intimidating venues. An organized fan rebellion paid for banners to be towed behind airplanes asking for Pioli to be fired, and the majority of fans dressed in black for a home game against Cincinnati.

Nothing Crennel did seemed to work, either.

He fired himself as the defensive coordinator and turned those duties over to linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. He shuffled his quarterbacks, changed inspirational posters outside the locker room and even tinkered with the way practice was run.

But injuries were numerous, turnovers plentiful and penalties crippling as blown assignments became the hallmark of a team that was rarely competitive in games.

Then came the morning of Dec. 1, when tragedy struck.

Belcher, a part-time starter, shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, multiple times at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. The linebacker then sped to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, who tried to talk him out of more violence.

After thanking Pioli and Crennel for his chance in the NFL, Belcher shot himself in the head.

The Chiefs played the following day against Carolina, and Crennel was praised for the way he stoically led a team in turmoil. Kansas City put together its best performance in a 27-21 victory.

It wound up being their last win. The Chiefs were blown out by Cleveland, shut out by Oakland and beaten by the Colts before an embarrassing finale against the Broncos.

That was enough to finish Crennel, and enough to put Pioli's future in jeopardy.

"I kept looking for the team to improve, to show signs that we were turning the corner," Hunt said, "and we just never got there."

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