The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally found their man. Or, more accurately, Art Rooney II found his man. After all, the Deuce seems to be the one calling all the shots these days. I wonder if he even bothered to consult his head coach or superstar quarterback before making his latest move.
It appears former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley will be named the Black and Gold’s new offensive coordinator. This will be a homecoming for Haley, a native of Upper St. Clair and the son of former Steelers player and director of player personnel (1971-90), Dick Haley. Upon graduating from Florida in 1991, where Todd’s athletic resume consisted solely of playing for the Gators vaunted golf squad, young Haley hooked on with the New York Jets as a scout and later as an offensive assistant under Charlie Weis while the elder Haley served as their player personnel director. Ah, I love the smell of nepotism in the morning.
Despite getting a foot in the door because of his dad, Haley did work his way up the NFL food chain on his own merit. He served as an offensive assistant/wide receivers coach in Dallas under Bill Parcells, then became Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive coordinator when he moved down to Arizona. This would be the first time the Steelers recycled something from
Pittsburgh West Arizona instead of vice versa. Anyway, after helping the Cardinals reach the Super Bowl, Haley left for the head coaching job in Kansas City. Under Haley, KC had a miserable first season but rebounded to go 10-6 and capture their first AFC West title in seven years in his second. This year was shaping up to be another wasted campaign although that was only marginally on Haley as he lost his starting quarterback, All-Pro running back and top wide receiver all by mid-season.
Of course, coaches have seasons where they’re snakebitten and survive, especially when they’re coming off a division title. The reason for Haley’s sudden dismissal is the same reason I’m worried about him joining the Steelers. The Chiefs were stuck playing Tyler Palko and GM Scott Pioli saw exactly what Pitt fans saw in Palko; not much. So Pioli picked up Kyle Orton off the waiver wire which for some reason irritated the stubborn and paranoid Haley. Despite Palko’s obvious incompetence, Haley refused to play Orton, almost daring Pioli to fire him. He got his wish.
This isn’t the first time Haley has run afoul of his co-workers. His career is littered with a history of not getting along with management, fellow coaches and/or his players. In KC, Haley kept another Steeler alum, Chan Gailey, on as OC when he took over, only to relieve him of his duties about a month into the season. The next year, they brought in former Patriots and Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis but Weis left abruptly after only one year for what would seem an inferior job as OC at Florida. While in Arizona, Haley feuded with several players, most publicly being a sideline blowup with Kurt Warner and shouting match with Anquan Boldin. At Dallas, Haley was said to have a poor relationship with a number of players, most notably Terrell Owens. Okay, I can’t hold that one against him.
But I am worried how his abrasive personality will mesh with a veteran and, frankly, accomplished team like the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t some raw rookie who needs a boot up his ass. Maybe the young receivers could use a little discipline but I’d think that’s the quarterback’s job. I can just see Haley reaming out Ben on the sideline and Ben being all, “See these two rings? How many do you have? Zero? Then shut the f@ck up.” That’s not exactly the kind of team unity that spells championships. In fact, it sounds a lot more like the circus in Dallas than the Steeler Way.
Then again, the Steeler Way has always been the coaches coach and the owner doesn’t interfere. Art II’s meddling already blew that tradition all to bits so if he’s going to be another Jerry Jones, why not bring Cowboys-style chaos to Pittsburgh as well. If Haley can deliver a 4,000 yard passer and two 1,000 yard receivers next year, I’ll certainly eat my words. However, I have a feeling Haley’s Comet may not have been worth the
76 year five year wait.