SBD/January 17, 2012/Franchises

Chiefs Deny Tapping Phones, Monitoring Employee Whereabouts At Arrowhead Stadium

Pioli has fostered culture of secrecy, extreme attention to detail since he was hired in '09
The Chiefs have "adamantly denied that they tap phones or listen in on conversations," but as the team "enters another period of transition after elevating defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel last week to head coach, interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees suggest that intimidation and secrecy are among the Chiefs’ principal management styles," according to Kent Babb of the K.C. STAR. Since the Chiefs hired GM Scott Pioli in '09, "life for many inside the Chiefs’ front office has been marked by massive staff turnover, fear and insecurity about how closely they are watched." Numerous current and former staffers "paint a picture of constant worry -- and, in a few cases, of alleged age discrimination." Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt "rejected the notion that Arrowhead is a difficult place to work, but he said there has been an emphasis placed on responsibility." He added that change "is often uncomfortable." Pioli three years ago "began ushering in a new culture on Arrowhead Drive." It centered on "secrecy, extreme attention to detail and putting an end to the way things had been" under former GM Carl Peterson. Some of the "first changes involved shutting off access and protecting information." Non-football employees, including "those who had worked for the Chiefs for decades, were told that they weren’t allowed on certain floors, or in certain areas of the team facility." Former Chiefs Dir of Stadium Operations Steve Schneider said, "It's not Lamar Hunt's organization anymore." A few former employees, though they "don’t deny that the working environment was tense," said that they believed Pioli and Chiefs President Mark Donovan "simply carried out changes that Clark Hunt, a graduate of the results-oriented Goldman Sachs training program, had authorized." Former coach Todd Haley this past year "stopped talking on the phone and repeatedly checked his office for listening devices." The team said that there is "nothing to substantiate Haley's fears, but some believed that anything was possible." A common notion "is that employees are constantly being watched." When they "arrive and leave, where they're going within the building and who they're talking to." But Donovan "denied that conversations are monitored or that the building is bugged" (K.C. STAR, 1/14).

EVIDENCE NEEDED FOR TAPPING CLAIMS: PROFOOTBALLTALK’s Mike Florio wrote if Haley “believes that the Chiefs are bugging rooms and/or tapping phones, Haley needs to provide chapter-and-verse evidence.” 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” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/16). SI.com’s Peter King asked, “Does Haley have proof that a federal crime has been committed and his phone was tampered with, or an office he works in has been bugged so team management could spy on him and other employees?” If he has proof or something “more than simple paranoia, out with it -- and expose the team for something incredibly scurrilous.” If not, that is “a damaging rap to lay on someone, or an organization.” Haley “needs to set the record straight” (SI.com, 1/16).
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