Watergate meets Arrowhead, allegedly

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On one weekend every year, four highly-significant football games land on the NFL’s center stage.  This year, as we were still digesting the epic Saints-49ers finish and a Broncos-Patriots game that never really got started, and while we were anticipating Texans-Ravens and Giants-Packers, the Kansas City Star nearly slipped a potential four-alarm story through the national five hole.

According to Kent Babb of the Star, former Chiefs coach Todd Haley believes that the team bugged rooms at the facility and “tampered with” Haley’s phone.  (The team denies the accusation.)

That’s the most compelling takeaway from a lengthy article that details many of the actual and/or perceived idiosyncrasies of the Scott Pioli regime.  Much of the information comes from former employees who naturally aren’t happy with the changes that were made, no matter how unreasonable or reasonable or necessary or unnecessary they may have been.

But the most potentially powerful nugget, as culled by Peter King in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback, comes from Haley’s allegation of wiretapping.

Like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, it’s unwise to accuse the Nathan Jessups of the world of serious misconduct absent, you know, facts.  If Haley believes that the Chiefs are bugging rooms and/or tapping phones, Haley needs to provide chapter-and-verse evidence.

If he’s right, people won’t simply lose their jobs; they’ll possibly land in jail, and for good reason.

The allegation is so inherently troublesome that we think the league should launch an immediate investigation.  This is a far bigger issue than brazenly videotaping defensive coaching signals during games, the foundation of the “Spygate” scandal in New England.  If Haley is right, the Chiefs have been violating state and federal law in the name of truly spying on their employees.

That’s why accusations of this nature shouldn’t be tossed around recklessly.

We’ll give Haley the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not embellishing, exaggerating, and/or fabricating.  If the league reacts the same way, the investigation will have already begun.

124 responses to “Watergate meets Arrowhead, allegedly

  1. Sounds a little like a tinfoil hat situation to me.
    I’ve never thought Haley was particularly stable…

  2. “I may be wrong, but aren’t companies allowed to record their employee’s work/office phones?”

    If they advise them they are doing so, and many jobs (especially call centers) do, than it is definitely a standard practice. Most employees at companies have to sign a waiver that notes their computers may be searched and so forth.

  3. I don’t get why nobody would want a great coach like Haley as their head coach.

    Oh I forgot, he isn’t the “yes man” suck up type so many GMs and owners want.

  4. Why give “Haley the benefit of doubt” and not Clark Hunt? Especially minus any evidence. The KC Star is a dying paper and the reporter is just beefing up his resume for when he applies for a job at TMZ.

  5. Surprised this hasn’t hit national media yet like it should, this is an unbelievably bad mark on this franchise and especially bad on Scott Pioli! Chiefs need to can this guy asap, for this, and a terrible job in 3 years!

  6. Companies can record telephone conversations, but only with the consent of the employee being recorded. It was Haley’s personal cell phone that he felt had been tapped.

  7. The league investigate a franchise for poor working conditions and possible felonies?

    Never happen and if they did, what could they do?

    Two words: “Al Davis”

  8. Whether or not this is true, this makes me embarrassed to be a Chiefs fan. Lamar Hunt would’ve never hired a guy like Pioli, and probably wouldn’t have considered hiring Haley.

    I know the Chiefs don’t have the richest history of winning championships, but they generally have tried to come across as the “good guys”. Pioli is instead trying (and failing so far) to rebuild the Patriots.

  9. Turns out the “wire tapping” was just some old Morse Code, deflected by sunspots and bouncing around the ether for a century or so. Picked up by Todd’s headset. Some kind of warning about a plot to assasinate Duke Ferdinand of Austria. Whoever he was.

  10. Haley went to buy gas the other day. Kid behind the counter pointed a finger at him and said “People are saying [stuff] about you!”. Then he made crazy googly eyes and laughed at him.

  11. When you’re winning, its considered being thorough and demanding. When you’re losing, its considered being a j****f.

    Tom Brady’s success has certainly made some j****fs a lot of money, and allowed them promotions into jobs which they probably would have never been considered for.

  12. trbowman,

    I’ve seen some trollers in my day, but you are the KING of them.

    and on PFT, that’s saying something.

  13. “One executive, who’s no longer with the team, was sent to human resources for casually referring to Pioli by his last name; the executive said, however, that first names were acceptable”

    ————

    And who sends Pioli to HR for failed expectations?

  14. Kent Babb supposedly interviewed a total of 24 current and past Chiefs employees. Haley isn’t the only one of them that felt phone conversations were being recorded. It is a felony to record conversations without consent, especially if it’s the personal phone of an employee. The league should investigate the matter. The season ticket holders and fans need to know the truth if this is how the organization is being ran.

  15. Haley’s own fault for growing that beard…I’m guessing they placed a bug in his beard…that or maybe it explains the beard, he was thinking the razor was bugged.

    Don’t know what to make of this, in one regard I think Haley is a good candidate for wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet and living in the Spruce Moose, but there’s a lot in that story that leads me to believe Pioli thinks he’s running some sort of cult out of the Arrowhead Compound too.

  16. “Stephanie Melton, who worked 11 years on the team’s operations staff, recalled Pioli’s reaction after she and a coworker, after working past midnight on a weekend, had parked a courier van in the unmarked space usually occupied by Pioli’s car. The women had forgotten to move it, and Pioli was livid the next morning. Melton said she was made to feel for several days that she’d be fired.”

    ———

    This guy should be kissing Brady’s arse every day. What a Richard.

  17. Pioli was brought up in the Patriots’ culture, where pretty much anything goes to get a win.
    What did you expect?
    What did Pioli know and when did he know it?
    Just follow the money, says deep route in KC, er, deepthroat.

  18. Look ANY THING is an upgrade from the Germ Edwards regime here—remember? The guy who took the Chiefs to the worst 2 years in their HISTORY? You know, the guy who wanted to get rid of Jarrod Allen…..the same Jarrod Allen that led the league in sacks (after a 4 game suspension)

    Long live Pioli!!!!!!!

  19. After reading the entire article, seems to me that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

    It is uncontroverted that employees would meet offsite if they wanted to speak candidly, and would take separate cars to meet offsite, so as to avoid the watchful eye of big brother. That’s just flat-out strange.

    Someone needs to tell Pioli that it’s football, not international espionage.

  20. Chiefs fans, except that Pioli is a disaster & not the genius everyone expected! Cut your losses, move on!

  21. ssgonesolo says:
    Jan 16, 2012 10:37 PM
    Weed makes you paranoid… BOO!!! This story alone is… INSANE!!
    ——————————————————–

    Weed? Weed? and you’re getting this information from where? Personal experience? I doubt it. And what information is there that he smokes weed? NONE. so you sir are a douche

  22. Shades of Brodhead bugging coaches offices . . .

    Isn’t the wiretapping law different for phone signals that are broadcast, e.g. cell phones, than for land lines?

  23. “This is a far bigger issue than brazenly videotaping defensive coaching signals during games, the foundation of the “Spygate” scandal in New England.”

    ===============================

    Yeah, because that scandal didn’t cause any damage to the league’s credibility (like allowing a team to steal three Lombardi’s), or to anyone’s career (like the devastation it caused to the careers of Kurt Warner, Dick Vermeil, and half the Rams’ organization).

    In fact, I find bugging your own failure-of-a-coach’s hotel room far less offensive than allowing a team to steal half-a-decade’s worth of regular season and playoff wins, and then burning the evidence for them.

  24. Don’t doubt it one bit that the GM is doing this as is the case in New England,but they get away with it there because they win. Winning lets you get away with rude coaches,GMs and management. Lose like the Chiefs and the GM must go for his actions.

  25. Oh man… chip in the head, sunspots and Morse code, Kleenex boxes on the feet…..

    There’s some good stuff here…

    Thanks for the laughs!

  26. Speaking of the Chiefs, they’d be the perfect team for Peyton Manning.

    Great, young talented defense, a good receiving corps if Bowe is re-signed, as well as a strong ground game with a healthy Jamaal Charles.

    All they’re missing is a quarterback. Pioli needs to wake up and see Cassel isn’t someone you can consistently win with.

    That division is easily the Chiefs with Peyton Manning.

  27. bbkld5 says:

    The league investigate a franchise for poor working conditions and possible felonies?

    Never happen and if they did, what could they do?

    Two words: “Al Davis”

    Not only do you exercise poor timing and bad taste, you don’t even make sense.

    FAIL.

  28. This story has the feeling like no big deal on the surface but will end up blowing into something massive in the next couple weeks, kind of like the Penn State story did.

  29. “wait a minute, your telling me the Chiefs coaching staff have their own offices?”

    “all we get is a few card tables set up in the locker room”

    -Marvin Lewis

  30. “trbowman,

    I’ve seen some trollers in my day, but you are the KING of them.

    and on PFT, that’s saying something.”

    A troll because I’m not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom?

  31. After reading the full article I’m starting to feel like the Chiefs may even be watching ME… I have to burn my hard drive… wait did you hear that?… Pioli is that you??… I have to go

  32. lostsok says:Jan 16, 2012 10:36 PM

    “I may be wrong, but aren’t companies allowed to record their employee’s work/office phones?”

    If they advise them they are doing so, and many jobs (especially call centers) do, than it is definitely a standard practice. Most employees at companies have to sign a waiver that notes their computers may be searched and so forth.
    __________________________________

    chiefwildcat says:Jan 16, 2012 10:38 PM

    Companies can record telephone conversations, but only with the consent of the employee being recorded. It was Haley’s personal cell phone that he felt had been tapped.
    __________________________________

    This is an area of work that I have had years of experience with. I am not a lawyer, but I have had to deal with legal departments as the IT consultant, who has implemented these systems without employee knowledge under the orders of management.

    First, and foremost, it really depends on the state you are in. In the vast majority of states, they can record you on their phone system, and they do not have to let you know. A notable exception is California: They can still record you, but they have to tell you. The majority of states do not require such disclosure. They can also monitor your computer use without telling you.

    http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs7-work.htm#2a

    http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs7-work.htm#3a

    As far as Haley’s cell phone goes, if it is his personal cell phone, and it was tapped, a crime has been committed. If the Chief’s are listed as the owner, the laws of their state apply, and it will probably be treated like a computer (in other words, the company owns it, they can monitor it). There have been quite a number of rulings that have backed this doctrine up.

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/is-it-illegal-to-video-record-an-employee-without–453171.html

  33. The only reason someone would take the precautions Pioli is taking would be because he absolutely knows someone has taken advantage of a team unaware by obtaining information through illegal means.

    I wonder where he learned of a team doing such a thing?

  34. If violations of state and/or federal law are involved, then why should the league investigate? Why not the people who SHOULD investigate – state and/or federal law enforcement?

    And what league rules were violated? That is the ONLY area that should get the NFL’s attention. If during their investigation, they come across, or become aware of, information of a violation of law, they are liable for interfering with an investigation if they don’t quickly get that information to the proper authorities, which are the state and/or federal law enforcement units.

    Having ONLY the NFL investigate is like having the parking garage investigate a murder that happened in the parking garage, and telling the police that they can’t enter the parking garage, since the police don’t own the parking garage.

  35. It has been acknowledged that Mr. Haley While playing flag football in the back yard with the kid’s and little woman fell into a cinder block wall . It was necessary to install a metal plate in his scrubby little unshaven noggin . Mr. Haley insist that on clear nights he get’s messages from other worlds . And to go further Mr. Haley thinks that Clark Hunt is indeed an Alien and is spying on him also . He insisted that his office was the real Starship enterprize

  36. I may be wrong, but aren’t companies allowed to record their employee’s work/office phones?”

    If they advise them they are doing so, and many jobs (especially call centers) do, than it is definitely a standard practice. Most employees at companies have to sign a waiver that notes their computers may be searched and so forth

    ———–
    Can’t speak about telephone conversations but definitely not true regarding computers (especially in tech environment). Laptops and computers are company property and so is any content on them (they don’t need your waiver to look).
    As a matter of fact most (all?) company computers are regularly backed up.

  37. “If he’s right, people won’t simply lose their jobs; they’ll possibly land in jail, and for good reason.”

    A FULL scale NFL investigation should be launched!

  38. @ bedmanokc

    The decision to get rid of Jared Allen was made my Carl (Five year plan) Peterson, not Herm. It was either pay Jared or Pay Larry Johnson. Carl chose the latter due to him considering LJ like a son. Don’t blame Herm for Peterson’s mistakes. He wasn’t in KC long enough to do anything. As for Pioli, the man is an arrogant jackhole who believes he built the Patriots all by himself. Just another case of BB making so-so football people look good.

  39. Man, now I’m just thinking about what would happen if the worst of these accusations turned out to be true. Would only Pioli be held accountable, or would it go all the way up to Clark Hunt?

    If Hunt was found to be a participant in weird activities, would he have to give up ownership like Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. did?

    That’s a lot of “if”. But it’s still interesting to think about.

  40. I think you guys have this backwards. Haley was working a 60-70 hour a week job in this environment. When you take someone as obsessive and intelligent as an NFL coach and expose them to this added pressure, yea, they get a little nuts. If my boss was tapping my personal phone and I knew it but couldn’t prove it; that would push me in a direction I don’t want to go.

  41. according to team president Mark Donovan, when discussing whether the Chiefs bugged phones in the building to monitor employees:

    “I’m not going to say that we’ve never done it, but it’s not something we do. It’s not how we operate this business.”

    That’s a pretty damning statement from the team president. He as much as admitted they’ve done it.

  42. I may be wrong, but aren’t companies allowed to record their employee’s work/office phones
    ———————————-
    Only with warning and notification.

  43. Gee, lets look at Pioli’s mentors; as much as I like him, Bill Belichick is paranoid and secretive and Bill Parcells, who is also his father in-law is paranoid, secretive, a control freak and a d-bag!

    I’m a Pats fan but was never impressed with Pioli and I would not be surprised in the least if he wasn’t behind this.

    Pioli is not the “Football Man” he’d like us all to think he is, he got the KC job based on his relationship with BB, granted they worked well together but Pioli was more a check and balance for BB than an actual personnel guy himself.

    Now Pioli is a desperate man in over his head IMO, how else would you describe this sort of thing, oh yeah and Haley is no peach either.

  44. It sounds like there are two phenomenons going on.

    First, people are afraid of change of leadership and rightly so. New leadership often demands different things. No different than in my office when a new CFO takes over. This point is brought home by the equipment guy who said about the previous regime change, “I remember the same feelings and people saying the same things. I was a young kid working in the equipment department, and everybody was talking about how everybody was worried about getting fired. … Any time there’s change, that’s just the feeling that people have.”

    Second, the association with the Patriots is causing the already fearful people to see conspiracies. The incredible attention to detail leads people to pick up things that most people don’t. That could explain why people feel they are being bugged. The bosses telling their employees to watch what they say was probably also a cause for the fear.

    Look, some companies just pay incredible attention to detail. My wife is always on camera. If she has a button undone or a sleeve rolled up, she will get a call from her boss. They have all kinds of rules that on the surface are nuts, but when you ask her why that may be it’s usually because someone took advantage and they made a blanket rule to stop that type of activity. Yeah it sucks, but you can understand why they did it.

    Same with the Pioli regime. The Chiefs sucked. There wasn’t enough attention to detail and those people were let go. It sucks, but sometimes the little detail is important.

  45. 6ball says:
    Jan 16, 2012 11:14 PM
    .

    If guilty, they should be forced to assume Santonio Holmes contract.

    .

    ———————-

    You sir are brilliant!

  46. @ Tjacks7 – In some States it’s actually illegal for companies to record phone lines without prior notice. As lostsok mentioned, even in call centers, they must notify you prior to the call (which is why it’s usually an automated message while you’re on hold) that the conversation could be recorded for quality/training purposes.

  47. Hey “Rexismyballsack”…devastation to Vermeil? Get your facts straight Moron…he had already left the Rams as Martz was their coach by then…and as far as Warner is concerned he did just fine once he ended up with the Cards unless you forgot a great SB against the Steelers or was that against the 3-peat all talk no results Jets?

    And as for those three “stolen” superbowls no one in their right mind thinks that unless you’re a fan of a loser team who hasn’t won a title in over 40 years…62-16 regular season record and 3-3 postseason since Mangenius ratted out his boss for doing what he himself had done and most other teams were doing. That of course includes their 18-0 start, when the league and everyone else was watching their every move, before they got run over by the NYG’s.

  48. phillyphever says:
    Jan 16, 2012 10:53 PM
    Lamar Hunt has to be rolling in his grave right now the way his son is ruining that franchise.
    ———————————————————–
    Not sure he’d be rolling…cheering, maybe. The Hunt family has a long history of paranoia, from McCarthy, to Nixon, to the John Birch Society, to Lamar helping set-up a right-wing intelligence network, the International Committee for the Defence of Christian Culture. Can’t say bugging Haley would fall too far out of the realm.

  49. What’s wrong with a little wire tapping here and there?

    Funny how these things always seem to have a New England connection usn’t it?

    Josh McDaniels not only got caught videotaping walkthrough practices while in New England but got caught again while in Denver. Then, while completely legal, the Patriots re-hire McDaniels while still under contract to St.Louis just before a playoff game with McDaniels’ old team.

    Both Kansas City and New England should be investigated if for no other reason than the old saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

  50. I am a Die Hard Chiefs Fan. I supported Haley all the way up until he decided to continue to play Tyler Palko, even after they acquired Kyle Orton. He lost me at that point. No good coach in their right mind would play Palko over Orton. Haley should have been more concerned with winning games than his phone being bugged. I think Crennell will be a Big upgrade over Haley. He was a Major League Jerk and embarrassed the Chiefs organization.

  51. This accusation has to be taken very seriously by the league, and I’m sure it will be.

    As crazy as I think Haley is, he can’t be dumb enough to say something like that without knowing he’d have to back it up.

    You just don’t make this kind of accusation without being positively sure.

    As for Pioli, his reputation for being a jerk precedes him, I wouldn’t doubt this being true for a minute.

  52. Hey, the real truth is that the Chiefs used crittercams on flies to keep track on what was going on! So, stop dreaming up silly fairy tales!!

  53. If they taped anything or tampered anyone’s phone, send them to jail. BUT THE REMAINING COMPLAINTS ABT ‘secrecy’ AND ‘extreme discipline’ WHAT WAS REALLY NEEDED TO CHANGE THAT EMBARRASSING ‘2&14’ CULTURE. If you think it is too much serious, go get public job.

  54. i’m a north jersey guy. pioli married bill parcells’ daughter. i heard stories about pioli once from someone who claimed to have gone to college with parcells’ daughter and knew them. i never really believed any of it, but after reading the kc star article, all i can say is….wow.

  55. The days of the American worker being treated fairly have faded away. Even in the NFL people are treated like cogs. For those that think Haley is a goofball, you need to read the article. Little was about him.

  56. I’m sure every employee in the NFL signs releases ackowledging that electronics are property of the team subject to monitoring…..standard operating procedure. Obviously, the former employees couldn’t handle moving forward into the 21st century. They preferred “Mayberry RFD”…..which would allow them cruise the internet or chat with Aunt Milly on company time…..IT DON”T WORK THAT WAY NO MO

  57. It sounds like many employees were lackadaisical and the new regime was overbearing. The wiretapping stuff is bad, if true. Some people love flaunting/abusing their newfound power. Regardless of how it came to be, the Chiefs organization has a morale problem that needs to be addressed. “The beatings will continue until morale improves” is not the right mentality but it is likely the one being used.

  58. Everyone assumes that Haley is crazy but there has been accusations from multiple employees, including lawsuits. One woman that was employed for 10+ years lost her job because she parked in Piolis parking spot.

  59. After all of this, one has to wonder how easily it will be for Haley to get another job in the NFL.

  60. In general, I do have to wonder about the whole telephone recording concept. Sure, the person that works at an office can sign a waiver, or whatever, but if that person is talking to someone outside of a company, the person outside of the company hasn’t signed anything. So I don’t know how legally a conversation can be recorded under those circumstances.

  61. “Hi this is Todd Haley, our conversation may be recorded for “training purposes”, please hold for the next available member of the coaching staff.”

  62. “Both Kansas City and New England should be investigated if for no other reason than the old saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    Hey Denverdude7,

    I assume you also want your Donks investigated for potential salary cap violations since Elway is back with the franchise. You know, “where there’s smoke there’s fire” after all.

  63. Those that were allegedly affected by the allegation should go to the authorities and bring charges against the Chiefs organization. Then if the charges stick should the media jump on them.

  64. Funny how so many in here are dismissing Haley when the GM of the team came from New England and was involved in similar situations with SpyGate. Dont worry though, similar to SpyGate, the NFL will quickly brush it under the rug and then burn the rug.

  65. I’m sure the Chiefs crazy ownership thought Al Davis was sending spies to work within the organization. This has been going on for years within the land of mullets and rusty Camaros. The Chiefs have been dysfunctional behind the scenes for decades. They’re redneck fans are just in denial about these sort of things, but sadly for them, yes, your favorite team is just as nutty as my Raiders used to be. The key word here, is “used to be” for the Raiders. Enjoy a few more decades of futility Chief fans.

  66. This is the same guy who claimed that his wife found a dead rat in her salad at McDonalds! Honest! Go figure.

  67. Haley does sound paranoid, but if you read the article, so do lots and lots of other Chiefs’ insiders. It absolutely does not sound like an environment conducive to success when all anybody can think about is whether Big Brother is watching.

    Pioli sounds like an obsessive-compulsive at best…and a sociopath if the bugging stories are true. He monitored how long it took a candy wrapper to be swept up in a back stairwell? Employees were encouraged not to have friends outside their own department? People got sent to HR for referring to Pioli by his last name? Somebody parked in his favorite (unmarked) parking space and nearly got fired for it?

  68. The first question I always ask myself in situations like this is “Why?”.

    What motivation could an organization have to bug the office of it’s coach? To tamper with his PERSONAL cell phone?

    I’m drawing a blank. Certainly nothing comes to mind that would justify the risk.

    Then I look at the person making the charge and the person being charged.

    If you had to bet on one of them being clinically insane, would you bet on Scott Pioli or Todd Haley?

  69. realitypolice says:

    If you had to bet on one of them being clinically insane, would you bet on Scott Pioli or Todd Haley?
    ————————————————-

    Pioli spends his days planting candy bar wrappers around the building, what do you think?

  70. denverdude7 says:
    Jan 17, 2012 3:31 AM

    Both Kansas City and New England should be investigated if for no other reason than the old saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
    ___________________________

    The Bronco’s should also be investigated for impersonating a professional football team Saturday night.

  71. “The allegation is so inherently troublesome that we think the league should launch an immediate investigation.”

    Ha ha ha. If the league “investigated” this, the outcome would only result in their destruction of evidence.

  72. kwoodc says:
    Jan 17, 2012 8:28 AM
    Everyone assumes that Haley is crazy but there has been accusations from multiple employees, including lawsuits. One woman that was employed for 10+ years lost her job because she parked in Piolis parking spot.
    ________________________________
    She SAYS that’s why she lost her job. A lot of people exaggerate to save face. They also exaggerate if they feel they could possibly have a lawsuit brewing for wrongful termination. Believe me I used to work in HR and heard a lot of garbage. I also worked in a company that had an ownership change and know that change causes all kinds of angst and manifests itself in the comfortable people who are skating on things they’ve done decades ago “shooting their way out of town” (so to speak)sometimes. This is almost like a team going from a lackadaisical players coach to a disciplinarian.

    That said, I am not trying to maintain that Pioli may not have done some things wrong. I just find it odd that no employee in the Pats’ past has ever made these types of accusations about him. This reeks of a resistance to a culture change. Pats had to dump a ton of malcontent types who were used to the perpetually chipper Peter Carroll when BB & Pioli took over.

  73. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Bill Belichick was Pioli’s mentor — suspicion of truth, control freak and paranoia seem to be characterizing the Chief’s organization now. Minus the wins!

  74. @deten1970

    That’s because the Chiefs don’t have Tom Brady, who, let’s face it, would make any coach look like a genius. The current NE coach had better retire before Brady does, otherwise, he will look like a moron, rather than a genius.

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