Chan Gailey Becomes Chiefs' Forgotten Man

Ron TepperCorrespondent IIJune 2, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - 2008:  Chan Gailey of the Kansas City Chiefs poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Getty Images)

In 1996, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a problem.

They had drafted a talented athlete, Kordell Stewart, and didn't know how to use him. Surely, he wasn't polished enough to play quarterback, but nobody had ever seen a quarterback with a rocket arm who could run a 4.4 before.

Chan Gailey, their offensive coordinator, came up with an idea. "Let's make him a slash," he said.

"What's a slash?" people asked.

Chan Gailey said, "You'll see."

In 1997, the team decided they wanted Kordell Stewart as their quarterback. Stewart worked hard with Chan Gailey and the Steelers had an 11-5 season. They came up three points short of a Super Bowl.

Under Gailey, Stewart looked like a superstar waiting to happen. The following year, Gailey left the Steelers and both Stewart and the Steelers fell from grace and wondered why.

Chan Gailey's biggest attribute has been his keen perspective on how to adapt. Most coaches wish they had that quality.

Many Coaches are out of Football because they don't

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Last year, the Chiefs were in trouble. Their top two QBs were injured in the same game and both would be out of the season.

In stepped Tyler Thigpen. This young kid from Division 1AA whose only job was holding a clipboard was thrust into action. At a point early in the season, Chan Gailey was forced to come up with a whole new offense to accommodate this young kid and, by going to a Pistol Spread Offense, it allowed Thigpen to become a success; the offense held their own.

Thigpen, in fact, looked so good that many thought that he had a future.

Tony Gonzalez was one of those believers.

And now we enter this year and we have new management with new ideas, and I wonder if Chan Gailey will have any input at all and that's a shame

Scott Pioli wanted a new defense, and gave Pendegrast the freedom to be innovative.

Now, Gailey is a different story. There is no doubt that Haley is a great offensive guru. His adjustments that he made at half-time for Arizona in the Super Bowl proved that. He admits that, for the first time, he now has to be involved with the entire team as a head coach, rather than only concerned with the offense.

But my humble opinion is that there is truth in the saying "Old habits die hard," and without a doubt it will be Haley, and not Gailey, who runs this offense and calls the plays.

So, in Gailey, we have a man whose role changes from innovator to merely teacher.

Can Haley and Gailey coexist? Does either need the other?

We are about to find out.